Need emergency soil amendments : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Last year we grew a 6000 sq ft garden of bugs and weeds (yes there were a few veggies in there). It was our first large garden on our homestead so I just added a litle organic fertilizer. I was so overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of my garden (and the fact that I planted my rows too close to use my tiller), that I prepared only a 20 by 60 area for this years garden and didn't bother with last years. I took good care of my small garden adding manure and a green cover crop but totally neglected the other.

Well folks the gardening bug has bit me harder than ever this year and I want my huge garden back! What can I add to my big garden to improve the soil quality before planting it. I want to plant half of it and put buckwheat in the other half. Meanwhile, I have no clue as to how to rapidly improve the soil on the side I want to plant before planting season. I want to use only organic methods. And I need to be able to do it myself. My husband isn't always available to help me.

Should I consider tilling up a new area or would that be even worse?

-- Tiffani Cappello (, March 06, 2001


Well rotted manure (horse, cattle, goat, sheep or chicken) is always safe to use, just be sure it is WELL ROTTED, meaning you can see no identifiable (sp.?) pieces of anything in it, like hay or straw or such. The heat of the rotting kills the weed and feed seeds in it then. You can get this from your neighbors that keep such animals and have old manure piles, you can back right up to the manure pile and load it into your pickup bed, well rotted manure is not overly heavy and can be done yourself, the loading and unloading, that is!

-- Annie Miller in SE OH (, March 06, 2001.

dinodirt 25 million old dirt. re-mineralizes tired worn out dirt.

10 pounds treats 1000 square feet.

e-mail me for more info.

-- Kenneth in N.C. (, March 06, 2001.

Hello Tiff, You didn't say whether your soil had a balanced pH or not. Shoot for a pH of around 5.7 or so, depending on what you are trying to plant. Some plants like a more acidic soil than others. If it is to acidic, I would as lime or woodashes to it. If it is too akalined, I would add pine needles or sawdust to it. It never hurts to add natural compost or cow manure,(make sure the manure that you use is well rotted). Fresh manure tends to burn up the roots of garden plants. I trick that I do is to take my vegetable,eggshells, and coffee scrapes from the kitchen and bury them in my garden area. They quickly break down and enrich the soil contiously, as I usually bury a tiny bucket of them every couple of days. There are several ways to help keep bugs away. One of the best ways is to buy heirloom quality seeds. A good place to buy heirloom quaility seeds at a low price is Just type in Heirloom Seeds in the search line and see for your self. Bugs usually will eat plants that have a imbalance in their soils, thus making them least resistant. Heirloom quality seeds assure you a healthy plant from the get go. Companian planting helps also to keep the bug populations down. Ex: Plant onions with tomatoes. They grow well together and the onions help keep aphids off the tomatoes too. potatoes and watermelon grow well together. Corn, grows well with squash and pole beans. The squash vines keep the soil cool for the corn and the corn shade the squash enough to keep it cool. Pole beans can grow up on the corn stalks, eliminating the need to stake them. Slugs are easy to get rid of if you just lay some boards down in your garden where the slugs are showing up. Get up early one morning and flipped the boards over and pick up the slugs. Drown them, burn them or eat them with garlic butter. This method works well with squash bugs and rollie pollies too, except they are not edible. Growing marigolds and some herbal plants thoughout your garden helps keep many harmful insects away. Another great way to keep insects away from your garden is to attract birds to the area. I built a bunch of bird houses and put them around the area where my gardens are. The mother birds nest in them and go after the grass hoppers, beetles,etc. to feed their youngsters. The proper use of mulch is important too. If you put it down before the soil is 68 degrees you will hamper the growth of many of your plants. Plants need warm soil to grow. Wait, until the temperatures are high before mulching. One exception is strawberry plants. They need a cooler soil and semi-shade to produce. IF you grow tobacco, grow it separately from the rest of your garden. It will attract the same harmful insects that potatoes and tomatoes attract, thus making it harder to control them. Organic gardening is much less expensive that regular gardening in many obvious ways. You use free organic material instead of fertilizer. You companion garden and use alternative methods of insect control instead of expensive insecticide. And finally, you avoid getting cancer and other diseases because you are eating chemical free food. The only draw-back of organic gardening is that you will be doing a lot more labor. But, to me it is well worth all the effort, as you will get the best quality vegetables fresh and healthy from garden to table. Sincerely, Ernest

-- Ernest in the Ozarks (, March 07, 2001.

Do any communities near you have a composting project? The ones where they compost all the lawn clippings and leaves they pick up all year long? That is usually sold economically, or if you're really really lucky, free to people in the community. I agree with Annie on the well rotted manure. Look for a smallish stable and ask them. We have only about 20-30 head at a time, instead of being a big 100 head stable, so ours is stacked out back, sometimes for a couple of years. Again, if you're lucky, it'll be a 'you shovel it, it's yours' outfit (the cost of manure disposal these days, lots of places are happy to get rid of it), or economical anyway. We just charge a fee for the neighbor with the front end loader who will fill your trailer or truck. Maybe you can find someone in your area like this (advertise in news papers under pets or horses?). One guy I knew had a mountain of the stuff out back, and the philosophy that if you wanted a bucket full it was $5, if you wanted a pickup truck full (and shovelled it yourself) it was $5, and if you wanted the WHOLE thing, and shoveled it, it was free.

IF you are extremely lucky, you can find a stable that beds with straw and get some of their product-of-barn, as this breaks down faster than wood chips do, and makes a more balanced product for the garden, but a lot of people are wising up that this is worth good money.

Another possibility is, do you have a parks system around there? They often have areas where they dump leaves that sit there and rot nicely. Another case of a shovel it yourself deal.

-- julie f. (, March 07, 2001.

Go back and read the thread on Sheet Composting. There's lots of info in there for you. If you hurry, you can fix your rows now and they will have a couple months to sit before you plant. Rabbit doo doo is cold manure, means you can put it right on the rows and it won't hurt your plants. I'm tellin ya, it's worth it to have some rabbits JUST for the doo doo. Do everything to invite the worms to your rows, keep them cool in the summer and warm in the winter, and they will come and stay. And don't chop them up with the tiller. I love sheet composting, it's allot easier, and it does make it's own little living enviornment.

-- Cindy in Ky (, March 07, 2001.

Tiffany,you received a lot of good info in the above posts' but you asked for emergency treatment.Here goes.Till the area you want to use. Since you have no compost,buy composted cow manure from Walmart.It's cheap.From your local feed store get some bone meal and some cottonseed meal.For each 100 feet of row I use 2 bags of cow manure compost,2 pounds of bone meal and from 0 -5 pounds of cottonseed meal depending on how much nitrogen the crop needs.This winds up costing about 3.00 per hendred feet of row and will get you a very good crop.

-- JT in Florida (, March 07, 2001.

Hi Tiffani,

For those whom want to know more about the dinodirt go to

It makes for interesting reading. We ordered some to go around some ailing trees and flowerbed. Inside Lily has perked up.

-- Kenneth in N.C. (, March 07, 2001.

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