I used another Ferry-Morse® soil test
this morning on the vegetable garden. The colors are hard to capture, but I think that we were looking better than last time
. Our pH is definitely better — somewhere in between neutral and alkaline. Disappointingly the nitrogen didn’t register as any better. I much have chosen a bad spot in the garden. Given all the foliage bursting out all over the place, I’d say the nitrogen is fine. Phosphorus and potash are still about mid-range.
Out of sheer curiosity I bought an instant-read pH and fertility meter with one of my batches of seeds to see if it gave any different results. On the left is the pH and on the right is the fertility (This model gives NPK as all one reading). So the pH reads on the top of the dial, where the numbers are. It says that we are on the alkaline side of “ideal” — over 6 and close to 7. Pretty much what the tubes said. The fertility results read on the bottom of the dial and state that we are in the “ideal” category again, but pretty close to “too low”.
Maybe one of these days I’ll get a test from the extension office and we can put to rest the question of how accurate these tests are. In the meantime they seem to be doing the trick, because it was on the advice of the Ferry-Morse® tubes that we injected lime and washed dairy manure, and things are certainly growing better!
Something that the tests did not report on was the sheer volume of sand in the soil. You want drainage? You got it! To combat this we picked up a 50/50 mix of compost and manure rather than straight manure. We did this for two reasons: one, the super-duper drainage meant that all our trace minerals were washing away and the compost should help resupply what the manure doesn’t; two, the compost provides much needed organic matter to help retain moisture in the soil. Definitely seems to have helped.