Testing the soil is especially important because I am planning on putting in a vegetable garden next year. In order to get a good yield of vegetables, it is critical for the soil to contain the right nutrients. As discussed in the last "Pimp My Soil" post, simply spreading a fertilizer around can be both wasteful, can pollute waterways with runoff, and could result in adding the wrong type or amount of nutrients to the soil. So, it was best for me to find out which nutrients, and in what amounts my particular patch of soil requires. I am doing the test now in preparation for next spring when I will be installing the garden and so that I will have a sort-of baseline measurement for the quality of my garden soil.
Here are the results of my soil test from Michigan State University (MSU) Extension:
Follow Your Personalized Recommendations
Important: Always apply fertilizers according to label instructions
Desired fertilizer ratio - 1:1:1
Option 1 Characteristics: More readily available for plant uptake, more concentrated form of nutrients, generally less expensive per pound of fertilizer nutrient.
OROption 2. Manufactured Fertilizer: Apply 5-5-5 fertilizer at 47 pounds per 1000 sq ft before planting and till into soil. Make a second application of 5-5-5 fertilizer at 23 pounds per 1000 sq ft 3 weeks after plants emerge and till in between the rows.
OROption 3. Natural Organic Fertilizer: Apply 2-2-2 fertilizer at 120 pounds per 1000 sq ft before planting and till into soil. Make a second application of 2-2-2 fertilizer at 60 pounds per 1000 sq ft 3 weeks after plants emerge and till in between the rows.
Option 3 Characteristics: Nutrients released more slowly, can be more expensive if high rates are needed, and can supply organic matter.
Approximate conversion of lb of nutrient needed to cups of nutrient needed: Ground limestone (1 lb = 1 1/2 cups); Most complete fertilizers (such as 12-12-12, 1 lb = 2 1/4 cups); Urea (46-0-0, 1 lb = 2 1/2 cups).
It is recommended that compost be applied each year to the soil after harvest and tilled in. For every 100 pounds of leaf/grass compost applied per 1000 sq ft of garden area your fertilizer rate can be reduced by 1/10.
» Phosphate (P < 25 ppm)Your phosphorus soil test level is low. In addition to the fertilizer suggested above, apply 3 lb 0-46-0 (or 15 lb 0-10-0) fertilizer per 1000 square feet in the fall and till in
» Potash (K > 50 ppm and K < 100 ppm)Your potassium soil test level is low. In addition to the fertilizer suggested above, apply 2 lb 0-0-60 (or 5 lb 0-0-24) fertilizer per 1000 square feet in the fall and till in
» Lime recommendation for mineral soilsNo lime needed.
» Organic Matter RecommendationOrganic matter in your soil is 8.5%. Your soil has an adequate level of organic matter and no further actions need to be taken. Mulching gardens annually with 1" of organic mulches can help maintain soil organic matter and reduce the amount of commercial fertilizer you need to apply. You can reduce your fertilizer rate by 1/2."
WHAT I WILL DO TO FERTILIZE:
My soon-to-be vegetable garden is about 500 square feet in size.
Because of these results I plan on adding a 2" layer of compost from Tuthill Farms in order to maintain a healthy level of organic matter in the soil and to reduce the amount of fertilizer that I will need. Hopefully this will slightly acidify the soil as well since the soil's pH is quite alkaline at pH 7.8.
I also want to use organic fertilizers because these will not cause salt build up in the soil over time the way that manufactured fertilizers can. It will also be slow-release, and less likely to cause problems if any did somehow run off into the lake. Here is what I have chosen to use:
4lbs Corn gluten meal (8-0-0) (Nitrogen) will be added to the garden area before planting. Three weeks after the plants emerge, I will add 2 more pounds of this to the area.
4lbs Bone meal (0-10-0) (Phosphorus) will be added to the garden area before planting.
2lbs Potash (0-0-60) (Potassium) will be added to the garden area before planting.
I will work the fertilizer into the soil before I plant. I will also be keeping an eye on my vegetables in case that any need a small amount of top dressing. Hopefully this will improve my soil a great deal and make for some lovely veggies during harvest 2016! Please check back at the blog then to see the results
If you too would like to get a soil test too, please go to http://msusoiltest.com if you live in Michigan, or do a Google search for your local extension office's soil test web page if you live elsewhere.