I take a pretty unscientific approach to my soil. In 25 years of vegetable gardening in many different locations, I have never once had my soil tested. I rely on my gut instincts and experience to know that as long as I get a good mix of organic ingredients into the soil, and follow up with a good quality feeding program, it is hard to have any soil related problems. This Spring I had a large crop of cold weather veggies in the tomato bed, and I figure they probably did a good job of depleting the soil of nutrients, so before I plant my tomatoes, I wanted to add a good amount of nutrient rich material. Here is what I have used in the past with great success, and what I just worked into my 130 sq. ft tomato bed...
1. 10 cubic feet of Bumper Crop, an organic mix of peat moss, compost, and pine bark.Makes the soil nice and loamy and helps retain moisture. I wish I had read the bag more carefully before I bought this. This comes all the way from California, which means it carries a pretty heavy carbon footprint to use in my Pennsylvania garden. Next year I will use something that is from a local source. (or better yet, get my act in gear and make my own!)
2. 10 cubic feet of Dehydrated Cow Manure, a well proven source of nutrients with a slow release, as well as another good moisture retainer. Also love it because it comes from Lancaster County farms, and all of my tomatoes are from Amish and Mennonite seeds.
3. Coffee Grounds, free from Starbucks. These add Nitrogen to the soil as well as acting as a pest preventer
So here is the tomato bed, all cold crops were removed as a final harvest yesterday. I froze quite a bit of spinach, and then shared big bags of greens with my neighbors.
The three soil builders have all been worked into the bed, and I am ready to finally put my tomato starts in the ground!
tomato bed May 26, 2009