Most of the plants seem to be growing pretty slowly in the community garden. The tomato and pepper transplants that I planted a couple weeks ago have hardly changed at all and what we planted from seed is slowly coming up. I wondered if our soil might be lacking in some nutrients since we don’t have all of the great compost that we had last year. Sure enough, our soil sample results show that the soil is seriously lacking in nitrogen. We have plenty of phosphorus and potassium but we are in desperate need for some nitrogen. This sparked our discussion and research on where to get more nitrogen for soil.
We’re currently looking into purchasing fish emulsion which is a great natural fertilizer high in nitrogen. Until then, we’ve been looking into some other methods that we can do on our own. We had a semi-serious discussion of going fishing just for the purpose of catching fish to bury in the garden, a Native American method, and we even considered if there were any restaurants in the area that might have leftover fish scraps.
Other non-fish means of adding nitrogen to the soil include planting nitrogen fixing plants such as beans, peas, and clover. Did you know that kudzu is supposed to be an efficient nitrogen fixer? But we don’t want to plant kudzu in our garden. I’m thinking about planting some more legumes and I’ve already started thinking about cover crops such as clover for later this summer and in the fall.
Coffee grounds are supposed to be good for adding nitrogen to soil. However, it can make the soil more acidic. Grass clippings can also be added around plants to increase nitrogen. Another method is to mulch the garden with leaves over the winter.
Getting the soil sample results back has made me more conscious of what we need to be doing in the garden to maintain soil health. We can’t expect the soil to continuously produce for us if we don’t give it something back in return.