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Gardening: I grow vegetables in raised beds. Nitrogen in

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Gardening: I grow vegetables in raised beds. Nitrogen in the soil is deficient and the PH is high. In the fall I added Peat Moss and sulfer. I added blood meal twice--Oct. and Nov. and some cornseed meal in Nov.

Just tested the soil and there's been no improvement. Any suggestions on how to significantly increase nitrogen in the nexr 2 - 3 months (without increasing phosphoruos).

Also would like to lower the PH to slightly acidic

Thanks, Howard
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: General
Expert:  Michael replied 1 year ago.
Hello, Thank you for using this service. I wish to introduce myself. I am a Research Librarian with 20+ years of experience.

Nitrogen is the nutrient most often deficient for growth production in crops as well as what we grow in our gardens. Sounds like you have been working on various methods on raising the nitrogen content in your soil so let me offer to you some recommendations on idea to increase the levels.

All research I have done gives growers the option of having their soil tested for amounts of nitrogen, acid etc. You can check in your local area for services that can give you a detailed explanation of what type of soil you have and how to increase its productivity.

You can start right away by planting nitrogen-fixing vegetables to increase the content without increasing phosphorous. Examples of such vegetables include beans and peas. If though nitrogen levels are extremely low in your garden, planting nitrogen-fixing vegetables alone will not fix your problem.

You can proceed then by using commercial fertilizer but be sure it is phosphorous-free. All fertilizers contain a string of numbers that follow a three digit format. The first number is XXXXX the second phosphorous and the third potassium. Phosphorous-free fertilizers will always have a "0" as the second digit.

Another option is using manures as they are good nitrogen sources and are relatively low in phosphate.

Yet another option is to cover crops as the nitrogen is tied up in the soil and released later in the season.

As for your question on to lower PH, common sulfur is the least expensive choice but since you tried this, other option is using iron sulfate and/or aluminum sulfate which is sometimes recommended as a soil acidifier. Iron sulfate acts more quickly (2-3 weeks) but should not be used on a regular basis, as heavy metals accumulate in the soil becoming harmful to the plants.

I have listed here a link to research done at Colorado State University that have a good overview on this topic as well as instructions for feeding etc for you to use in your gardening this season:

http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/garden/07611.html


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