Going for the Gold in Your Vegetable Garden!
By Bill McCaleb VCE Southside Master Gardener Association Coordinator Oh, the wonders of spring and the eternal emerging of the flora and fauna around us. I was looking at a garden late last year, and the gardener had been using the same area for several years to grow tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and cucumbers in an area that 20 years ago had been host to tobacco crops year after year. Yes, he had been rotating his crops, but each year he was getting poorer production and more disease issues. Let me just say, a “healthy soil will produce healthy plants”. I’m sure that phrase has been used by many extension personnel across the country as it is true where ever you go. I will borrow this quote and modify it a bit from Cool Hand Luke; “what we have here, is a failure to communicate (build soils)”. You can’t keep taking away your basic elements from the soil and expect success in gardening or in your lawn, or for that matter, in your landscape. Much of the nutrients that a healthy happy garden wants had been reduced over the years for this landowner, especially calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron uptake was minimal. Needless to say, it became evident after he did a soil test in the area where his garden is and the results came back. Some people have the option of picking a new area, remove the turf by solarization (that is a whole other article to come) and start afresh in a healthier location. Or, in this case, this was the only place that he had full sun and fortunately had a slight slope, so standing water (poor drainage) wasn’t an enemy to our annual vegetables that we love to grow. Yes, there is a solution to this dilemma for this person and all of us who need to replace what we take away. Compost to the rescue!