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squash and pine needles...

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by KimF on June 08, 2004 04:54 PM

I planted 6 hills of squash(summer, zuchinni and pumpkin). The front 3 hills are doing great but the back 3 are yellow and puny. We have a fir tree above the bed and I'm wondering if the needles are making the soil too acidic? I am an enthusiastic but "brown thumbed" gardener. Does anybody have any suggestions? Any help will be much appreciated!
by Phil and Laura on June 11, 2004 02:17 PM
Hi Kim, That is a very good possibility, Contact your local county extension for an inexpensive soil test, I raise Giant Pumpkins, and of course other members of the squash/pumpkin family, I try to hover between 6.8 and 7.0, you can also get a cheap ph meter, but be sure to follow the directions that come with it, stores offer a myriad of test kits too. It doesn't matter if you are growing a GIANT or a few table squash, a real good website to visit, click on this: PUMPKIN-Itis
You Can get all the squash/pumpkin knowledge you could ever Dream of! [wayey]
P.S. I am Mr. Bumpy on that site, many diaries and pics.
by KimF on June 11, 2004 03:13 PM
Thank you so much! I tested the soil and the ph was at least 8. I've spread some lime around the plants and watered well. Now I just need to be patient. I am curious however, as a lot of the compost/mulch instructions suggest using pine needles. Does that just mean you need to sweeten the soil regularly? I will go to your pumpkin site this weekend!
by Phil and Laura on June 11, 2004 05:08 PM
Just be choosy of which plants get your pine needles! [wayey]
by Phil and Laura on June 12, 2004 04:46 PM
KIM, I was really tired last night and answered you briefly, now that I re-read your post...WHOA
A Ph of 8, that is Alkaline You added the Wrong ammendment! Lime will Raise the Ph!

Soils range from Acid-neutral-Alkaline
Most cultivated soils range from 4.5 to 7.5
Soil that is Higher than your desired level should be ammended with something to Reduce the alkalinity. suggestions: sphagum peat moss, at a rate of aprox. 1/4 to1/3 of the volume of soil or in medium loam a half cup of dusting sulpher to 9 sq. ft., turn the soil and water and it will drop your alk. about 1 full point. other substances are: cottenseed meal, manure, and good compost.
Don't feel like you are the Only One that doesn't understand the Ph thing....
by KimF on June 12, 2004 06:36 PM
Hi Phil(and Laura),

Thanks so much for your advice. This is too weird...My husband went to our local garden store (we live in a very small town) and they recommended lime when he described the problem. He also picked up a soil test kit. Oh well, I'm going out this am and will pick up one of your recommended fixes. Now I'm excited about fixing up the soil (I have two raised beds) in the fall so I can be better prepared next spring.

While I have your undivided attention, perhaps I can ask your advice about radishes. I'm careful about thinning them but many of them never really develop. We have a tremendous problem with slugs in this part of the country but I've learned the hard way to prepare for them ahead of time.

I really appreciate you taking the time to help so many of us greenhorns!

Best regards,
by Phil and Laura on June 15, 2004 03:26 PM
Yummy...Radishes, [grin] Well I have great Luck with radishes; However, I get them out early, Mine and Laura's plantings are Gone! I tilled Laura a bed Sunday, she is going to try some more, I will wait and see how they turn out. I mix them in (add a row) beside my onions when they are planted, they come up and harvesting them loosens the soil for the onions to develop. I also use them and Had laura do likewise, to mark the slower germinating crops like Carrots. Early plantings for growth in cool weather is the thing that I go by, and the bed I tilled for Laura gets only afternoon sun, so they May do well. as far as your slugs, I have none, They may attack your radishes, in your area of the U.S., I have heard some Slug horror stories! Flea beetles and Aphids are likely culprits too! In which case a floating row cover may help(remay) I did a lil search and for the west regions it said that the early planting dates for radishes in that araea was,4/2-6/5, not sure but it must start getting hot there around june 6th? Generally though, a 1/2 inch deep and an inch apart, usually light to moderately fertile soil. The reason Laura is planting more radishes is, after I ate a few...She SOLD the rest! [tears]

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