Ashes to Ashes, And One Failed Garden
I didn’t think I was putting out too much woodstove ash on the garden last winter, but apparently, the story was told mid-summer when the garden suddenly up and failed. I mean it disappeared overnight after a period of heavy rain. I blamed the rain (though I couldn’t explain why; our soil is sandy and doesn’t get waterlogged like clay soil does.)
This March I had a soil test done by sending off a sample to Virginia Tech’s soils department. We have seen the enemy, and it are us. Prescription for correcting what ails our vegetable garden (other than an excess of deer and moles): it is TOO basic! ACIDIFY!
Soils over the growing season tend to become more acidic due to leaching of basic ions, and the usual remedy is to add lime to “sweeten” the soil. But in our case, we are advised to add acidic ions. Apparently the combination of wood ash and raked leaves was too much of a good thing.
And believe me, it isn’t easy to find agricultural acidifiers! Finally, after a good bit of shopping, I found AG sulfur (to acidify) and UREA (to add nitrogen only, there’s an excess of P and K in the soil) and after some tedious calculating, I broadcast 1.7 pounds sulfur and a half cup urea for each 100 square foot of garden.
With the rains we’ve had this past week, those amendments have soaked deeply into the soil so that this next week, we can get serious about putting in our DEER SALAD PARK otherwise known herebouts and cynically as a vegetable garden.