Disappointing garden

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by soccerdad, Sep 3, 2021.

  1. soccerdad

    soccerdad Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    505
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC, Dunbar area
    I am not sure if my soil results are attached but I seem to have a surfeit of Phosphorus (and to a lesser extent Calcium and Sulfur). However, I read that it results from "excessive use of inorganic fertilizer or the use of composts and manures high in phosphorus" and none of those could apply in my case.

    upload_2021-11-30_13-52-37.png
     
  2. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

    Messages:
    2,393
    Likes Received:
    1,283
    Location:
    Nanoose Bay, BC Canada
    That's quite shocking, isn't it? Does the lab offer an opportunity for you to discuss the results with them?

    What is the pH of your soil?
     
  3. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    20,944
    Likes Received:
    656
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    If you are not the first user of the property somebody ahead of you could have left you a soil minerals legacy. Perhaps even due to activities other than home horticulture.
     
    Georgia Strait likes this.
  4. soccerdad

    soccerdad Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    505
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC, Dunbar area
    Ron, we've lived here for 37 years. All that I know about the previous owner's use of the garden is that whenever he had a bent nail he tossed it into the garden, presumably to add iron to the soil.
     
  5. soccerdad

    soccerdad Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    505
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC, Dunbar area
    As I read the report, it is 6.54. Only comments are "plants will respond to additional potassium" and "add nitrogen carefully, as needed" - although the nitrogen seems already to be more than adequate.
     
  6. vitog

    vitog Rising Contributor 10 Years

    Messages:
    1,697
    Likes Received:
    226
    Location:
    Burnaby, Canada
  7. soccerdad

    soccerdad Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    505
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC, Dunbar area
    No NaCl here. I have never seen it used in this city and have definitely never used it myself anywhere. .
     
  8. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

    Messages:
    2,393
    Likes Received:
    1,283
    Location:
    Nanoose Bay, BC Canada
    Rereading your first message on this thread @soccerdad, you say that the nutrient problems you are facing have only come up in recent years. That explains the fact that so many values on your soil test are so out of whack. Have problems with poor growth gotten worse over several years or did they come on suddenly? I'd almost suspect sabotage but I'm not inclined towards conspiracy theories. There must be an answer somewhere . . . I wish we had Extension Departments in Canada like they do in the US.
     
  9. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor

    Messages:
    1,816
    Likes Received:
    632
    Location:
    South Okanagan & Greater Vancouver, BC Canada
    Seaweed / kelp? Some people go and haul it off the ocean beach thinking they are helping something
    (Herring roe depend on healthy seaweed)

    mislabelled (or inaccurately mixed) commercial fertilizer or soil, whether organic or not?
     
  10. soccerdad

    soccerdad Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    505
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC, Dunbar area
    I am close enough to the ocean to get such stuff but I have never done so.

    Every year I end up buying a few bags of commercial soil so anything is possible but the amount I get would not be enough to raise my garden 1/32" if spread uniformly.
     
  11. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor

    Messages:
    1,816
    Likes Received:
    632
    Location:
    South Okanagan & Greater Vancouver, BC Canada
    And please remind me — I think you answered this already back in this or a diff thread — do you have raised beds?

    also - was there ever a garage or garden shed structure where you are planting now? I realize it might be difficult to ascertain.

    a furnace oil tank?

    how long does it take to mitigate a brown field - i don’t know.
    I hope you keep us all updated on this puzzle
     
  12. soccerdad

    soccerdad Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    505
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC, Dunbar area
    No raised beds

    Old garage not too far away. Too small for modern cars but there may well have been a car in it 40+ years ago. But if the soil was contaminated then, the plants would have fared as badly then as they do today - yet at one time I had no problems.

    I had a suspicion some decades ago that there may be a buried oil tank about 30 feet from the garden area.

    Brownfield remediation might take a long time. If the ground is just left alone, I can't guess how long but I think generations.
     
  13. soccerdad

    soccerdad Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    505
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC, Dunbar area
    I wonder if the test results are reliable. I hate to waste money but I might get a second company to test.
     
  14. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

    Messages:
    2,393
    Likes Received:
    1,283
    Location:
    Nanoose Bay, BC Canada
    That occurred to me too; it may be the only way you can be confident in the results before spending even more on mitigation efforts.
     
  15. Sulev

    Sulev Contributor

    Messages:
    1,159
    Likes Received:
    349
    Location:
    Estonia
    Did you get any instructions how to take a sample, and if not, then how did you took and mixed it?
    I was pessimistic, that the soil analyses helps you to resolve your problem, and I am still pessimistic, that another lab would help you somewhere further.
     
  16. maf

    maf Generous Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

    Messages:
    2,046
    Likes Received:
    1,664
    Location:
    Northamptonshire, England
    Did they analyse the micronutrients also? The report as posted was very short and I suspect only partial - would be interesting to see the trace element levels.
     
  17. soccerdad

    soccerdad Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    505
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC, Dunbar area
    I selected about 10 places in the garden in a checkerboard pattern and took a few tablespoons about 6" below the surface at each spot, mixing the result with a spoon.
     
  18. soccerdad

    soccerdad Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    505
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC, Dunbar area
    They say "add minor elements only when clear signs of lack are present" - but what would constitute such "clear signs", I cannot guess. Anyway, zinc is high whereas Cu, Fe and Mn are low; I will reproduce that part if I can:

    upload_2021-12-1_13-43-26.png
     
  19. maf

    maf Generous Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

    Messages:
    2,046
    Likes Received:
    1,664
    Location:
    Northamptonshire, England
    The high level of phosphorus will limit uptake of Zinc, so despite being in excess it is likely relatively unavailable. Molybdenum and cobalt levels are very low also, in addition to those you mentioned. Can't help thinking the main issue is excess phosphorus limiting uptake of micro's (Fe, Zn) combined with low levels of other micro's (Co, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo). For me, the poor growth of plants is a clear sign of lack of minor elements.

    Alfalfa pellets or meal are a cheap organic additive that is relatively low in phosphorus but high in trace elements and won't overdose your garden with anything.

    It is impossible to say where the excess phosphorus came from but if the previous owner was a gardener it is entirely possible they were a bit heavy handed with bone meal, that stuff can hang around for a long time. Is there any evidence PH has lowered recently as P from bone meal is only available at PH below 7?
     
  20. Sulev

    Sulev Contributor

    Messages:
    1,159
    Likes Received:
    349
    Location:
    Estonia
    Sounds right.
    Was the appearance of the soil similar everywhere or was there difference in color or texture?
     
  21. Sulev

    Sulev Contributor

    Messages:
    1,159
    Likes Received:
    349
    Location:
    Estonia
    According to your data, no nutrient can be major limiting factor of your plant growth.
    Could be, that biological factors play their role there. Like root knot nematodes, grubs or some other pests.
    Weather may also play significant role.
     
  22. soccerdad

    soccerdad Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    505
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC, Dunbar area
    Looked much the same everywhere but it was wet, as usual here, and so color differences would not have been obvious,
     

Share This Page