New to Gardening Forum Some help with soil sample, please.


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Live on the south east coast of Massachusetts.
I have been growing Tomatoes , cucumbers, peppers for many years for the most part trouble free , I get fresh compost from local farm and usually toss a handful of bone meal and lime around the plants every year.
The last few years it has been a struggle so I decided to get a soil sample test.
Lots of things going on in this sample and was wondering where I should start.
The garden was a complete loss this year for me. Lots of rain and mold/blight took over early. So now I want to get ready for next season
03B2328A-34E0-4C98-AAEA-3FE393A7303E.jpeg
 
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Hello and welcome to the Forums.

Questions arise from looking at this table.
What methods were used to do these analyses? Is this this the result of a single sample or an average of multiple samples?

The optima supplied are all given as ranges, this is certainly a step in the right direction. Still it is good to remember that different plants, crops, climates, seasons, growing methods etc. could each have their own set of optima.

Also take note that the physical amount of an element in soil is not the same as the level of availability to plants. pH can affect the availability of many nutrients. Also the relative abundance of different elements in relation to each other can affect their availability as well. Needless to say these inter-relationships can be complex.

Just for now, let's bypass these questions and concerns and take the table as a given.

According to this table your soil's pH is too low and it is too high in Zinc. All other elements are optimal or sub-optimal. You can raise the sub-optimal levels by applying fertilizers. However, if you want follow this table, you will need to re-test periodically to make sure the levels have reached and are staying within their optimal ranges.

Soil pH in nature is determined by soil mineral composition, climate, and less directly by vegetation, which itself is largely determined by soil and climate. In human-modified soils, mineral composition and vegetation can be partly controlled by humans, also irrigation can greatly modify the pH affects of natural precipitation due to climate.

You can raise pH by adding certain alkaline chemicals. Various forms of lime (Calcium carbonate: CaCO3) are most commonly used. You need to add enough over come the affects of your native soil chemistry and factor in how climatic conditions may try to shift pH back tot ht starting point. There are various formulae for calculating amounts of lime, and various methods for distributing lime into deeper layers of the soil. Note also that increased pH may decrease the availability of Zinc (Zn) in the soil.

Anyway, these are some points to start with. I'll rest my typing fingers and listen to what others want to add.
 
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Live on the south east coast of Massachusetts.
I have been growing Tomatoes , cucumbers, peppers for many years for the most part trouble free , I get fresh compost from local farm and usually toss a handful of bone meal and lime around the plants every year.
The last few years it has been a struggle so I decided to get a soil sample test.
Lots of things going on in this sample and was wondering where I should start.
The garden was a complete loss this year for me. Lots of rain and mold/blight took over early. So now I want to get ready for next season
View attachment 85340
The soil test was done by MySoil a mail in service. I took 4 cups from 4 spots around my 400 sqft garden. I was using a local extension service for my lawn but the location closed a few years ago.
In my frustration through covid trying to find another extension service I opted to try this MySoil test.
 

Meadowlark

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MySoil is excellent and no need to question those results.

If that was my soil, I would do two things: 1) add ag. lime and 2) plant nitrogen fixing legume cover crops. Set up a rotation system whereby you regularly utilize those cover crops and turn them back into the soil. Never plant your veggies in the same spot...rotate with cover crops.

Track your progress by annually testing the soil and comparing the results to the baseline.

You have excellent potential there and with a little work on the soil over time can have outstanding gardens.
 
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is it to late in the season to plant cover crops? Do you have any recommendations for the SE Ma area ? 400sqft garden ?
First thing that came up on google was a 13 seed mix on amazon ?
Good to know my soil is a good. Maybe I was expecting them to hold my hand more.
I applied the lime as per Mysoil ----was not sure if I should be correcting nutrient deficiencies now or in the spring.
I have free access to Horse Manure ? large composted pile?
 

Meadowlark

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If you want to try a Fall-Winter cover crop in Massachusetts, I would recommend Winter Rye (Secale cereale). Plant posthaste, your window for successful fall germination is closing fast.

If you can get some free composted horse manure compost, do spread a thin layer over your beds. It will be ready to work when Spring arrives.
 

Meadowlark

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If I had a 400 sq ft garden in your area, I would definitely take advantage of that free horse manure you mentioned and spread it over the entire garden every fall. Then plant in a cereal rye. Next spring, after tilling in the rye and manure, plant soy beans in about 1/3 of the garden space and the other 2/3 in your regular selections. This sets up a three year rotation program.

Then the following fall/winter again cover in horse manure and a cover crop in a mixture of small grains, oats, wheat, vetch, and the rye again. The following spring, after tilling, plant a different 1/3 area in the soy beans. Allowing them to fully mature without harvesting any of the pods....and so on year after year rotating that 1/3 cover area. You will quickly find that the garden even though reduced in effective production size by 1/3 will produce far more than it did before in the full space, require far less fertilizers, and will have less weeds and insects/pests than you could have imagined possible.

A couple of thoughts: 1) prior to tilling the soy beans or whatever growing season cover you choose, use a mulching mower and mow it short. This will provide large amounts of readily usable green manure as well as make the tilling task much easier. 2) I recommend soy beans because I have found them to be most efficient N2 fixers but field peas are also a good choice and works well with the lawn mower method. I've recently started using alfalfa sometimes mixed with soy beans for that summer growing cover/rotation crop.

Continue your soil tests... I've seen over 200% increases in N2 and other vital nutrients year to year using this management approach. It works....and for me works better than any other approach. I might add, this isn't a "book approach" or theoretical. I developed it, use it, and know it absolutely works.
 
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The following spring, after tilling, plant a different 1/3 area in the soy beans. Allowing them to fully mature without harvesting any of the pods....and so on year after year rotating that 1/3 cover area.
Allowing your cover crop to fully mature and not harvesting the seeds is an unusual strategy. Usually a cover crop is turned under before the fruit mature. I suppose this would increase the overall biomass produced. Is that your thought behind this? So the mature soybeen seed is just turned under with everything else. In this case, do you save some Soybean (Glycine max) seeds to start your next cover crop?
 
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Meadowlark

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Significantly more N2 is added to the soil if the seed harvest is limited or none. If the growing season permits the plants will regenerate from those non-harvested seeds. In my southern clime, several generations of summer cover from just one spring seed planting can be had by shredding and regrowing and shreding and regrowing again. I've done four generations that way without ever planting seeds more than once...all the while building the soil and fixing N2 with each generation. No tilling or turning the summer cover under until frost ends that phase and the fall/winter phase and covers are applied.

I don't know how long the op's growing season is...maybe only one generation of summer cover or maybe more before the fall/winter phase. One has to customize their approach for their own area. A system of summer covers, rotations, fall/winter covers can be perfected for every area. I've perfected it for my area and enjoy superior quality soil that has outstanding production year after year for over 40 years in the same spot.
 
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That sounds impressive. Do I understand that you get four generations of soybean in one season? How does that work with seed from the same maturity group? or do you mean that you have different maturity groups ripening at different times in the same field? That makes more sense to me, but maybe I am missing something.
 

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Getting off topic from the Op's post. I doubt the Op has the growing season length for more than one generation of summer cover/rotation, let alone four but for those who may be interested....

Plant it (field peas, cow peas, soybeans, etc) once in early spring, let it mature, shred it (one generation). It will reseed/regenerate itself from the shredded materials (second generation). Let it mature again , shred again (reseed/regenerate = three generations), repeat (four generations) until frost. Tough to get four generations but I have done it. Three generations is easy here. That is a lot of organic matter added to the soil.

The last three years I've also been experimenting with alfalfa as a summer and fall/winter cover/rotation. I just mow it every few weeks in summer and leave it through fall/winter. It has shown remarkable N2 fixing properties. Incredible soil building.

Here is my current alfalfa cover/rotation plot headed into winter. It has been mowed about six times over the summer and now will be left alone until spring when I will mow it again and turn it under for next years spring garden.

alfalfa late 2021.JPG
 
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Very impressive. That is an exceptional result, both to seasonality and generation. Most Soybeans farmers grow one crop a year or else rotate a soybean crop with a grain crop. Usually the longer the crop can be left the higher the yield. I'm not certain what variety or maturity group of Soybean you grow, but perhaps you should consider soy bean farming! Of course you haven't mentioned yield as it is not a crop, but it is at least enough to reseed the field. Of course, east Texas does have a longer growing season than the main Soybean Belt region, or Massachusetts. That must partly explain it.

This article is only tangential to what we are discussing, but it does have some interesting points:
https://agrilifetoday.tamu.edu/2014/07/30/first-soybean-crop-is-in-south-texas/
 
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I will do some reading , hope to pick up at least a bag of winter rye today?
Anyhow my garden is long over due for some good maintenance.
As I stated I had overwhelming problems in July and gave up. Removed the old rotted pine beds and tilled everything. Used Stay-green Fast acting lime. Not much inventory left around here. Used it per instructions to get the PH up.
BC8374BC-9DF1-4173-A7DD-1C74A5CBFD51.jpeg
 
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I will do some reading , hope to pick up at least a bag of winter rye today?
Anyhow my garden is long over due for some good maintenance.
As I stated I had overwhelming problems in July and gave up. Removed the old rotted pine beds and tilled everything. Used Stay-green Fast acting lime. Not much inventory left around here. Used it per instructions to get the PH up.
View attachment 85500
To this
image.jpg
 
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