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Soil Information and Germination Tables



NITROGEN - Nitrogen forms new cells and is essential to total plant development. A shortage of nitrogen halts plant growth and cell production. Symptoms of nitrogen deficiency are a yellowish brown color along the veins and tips of leaves, stunted growth of the plant, or paleness in color on older leaves. Too much nitrogen can cause tall, spindly plants that easily topple over and nitrate poisoning (look for a strong red tint to the leaves). Nitrogen is also essential to the compost pile, as it aids in the breaking down of old plant residues. Good sources of nitrogen include: blood meal, cottonseed meal, fish meal, soybean meal, rabbit manure and tea grinds. By growing a cover crop of legumes in the fall to raise the nitrogen level for the next springs crop.

PHOSPHORUS - Phosphorus produces vigorous seed and root development. A shortage of phosphorus slows cell division and results in stunting of growth and late maturity of the plant. Phosphorus deficiency may cause your plants to grow spindly and have purple streaked stems. Since phosphorus moves very slowly in the soil, it is essential to have it available during early plant development. Good sources for phosphorus include: bone meal, rock phosphate and colloidal phosphate. Incorporating organic matter (compost) into the soil makes the phosphorus present more readily available to the plants.

POTASSIUM - Also called Potash, this nutrient helps produce strong and sturdy stems. It advances root growth and helps plants resist disease and cold weather. A shortage of this nutrient causes stunting and stem weakness. Symptoms include a yellowing of leaf edges and yellowing of the leaves veins. This nutrient must be available during early plant development. Good sources of potash are: cow manure, compost, granite meal, greensand and wood ashes.

pH - pH is a measure of acidity or alkalinity on a scale of 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. The pH of the soil affects many elements, including nutrient availability, plant nutrient uptake, and microorganism activity. Because soil pH affects many factors, it is important to maintain proper pH throughout the growing season. Considering the complexity of factors involved, the recommended soil pH for each individual variety is very important. Regular pH testing will allow you to make informed decisions if soil pH adjustment is necessary. For soils that are too acidic, add lime to the soil in the fall. Some sources of lime are: Dolomitic limestone. This will raise the pH of the soil while supplying calcium and magnesium. Apply in late fall for next years crops. Hydrated lime will provide quicker results because of the smaller particle size and is especially useful for raising the soil pH quickly. Be aware that hydrated lime may cause severe injury to young plants. Apply at least 3 weeks before planting your crops. Wood ashes (not charcoal ashes) can also be added to acidic soil to correct the pH level. For soils that are too alkaline, add powdered agricultural sulfur, aluminum sulfate or iron sulfate to the soil for a quick fix. For a long term solution, continually add acidic organic matter to the soil, such as peat moss, pine needles and oak tree leaves until the pH level is correct.

COMPOST - The single most important addition to any garden is compost. Compost enriches the soil in the garden, promotes the development of beneficial insect populations, helps retain moisture and aids in stabilizing the pH level. Every gardener should have a compost pile or bin near their garden. Just about any plant material can be recycled into valuable compost, along with coffee grounds, eggshells (crushed), cow manure and horse manure. If you add lawn clipping to the compost pile, make sure they have not been treated with any chemical herbicides. In the fall, make sure to shred any leaves before adding them to the pile. DO NOT add diseased plant material to the compost pile or weeds that have gone to seed.

SEED GERMINATION SOIL TEMPERATURES

In general, it is better to sow your seeds a little late rather than too early.  If the soil temperature is not warm enough for the variety of seed you are sowing, the seed will often rot in the ground before it has a chance to germinate.  This is especially true with seeds that have not been treated with a chemical fungicide. ( We do not recommend using treated seeds).

Remember - the temperatures listed below are for the soil, not the air.

In the spring,  the air temperatures may be warm for a few days, but this will have little effect on the soil temperature.   Only when the days and nights both stay warm for an extended period of time will the soil temperature start to rise.

VARIETY
OPTIMUM SOIL TEMPERATURE FOR GERMINATION
DAYS TO GERMINATE AT OPTIMUM SOIL TEMPERATURE
 Bean, lima  85 degrees F  7 to 10 days
 Bean, snap  75 to 80 degrees F  7 days
 Beet  75 degrees F  7 to 14 days
 Broccoli  65 to 75 degrees F  5 to 10 days
 Brussels sprout  68 to 75 degrees F  5 to 10 days
 Cabbage  68 to 75 degrees F  5 to 10 days
 Cantaloupe  80 to 85 degrees F  5 to 10 days
 Carrot  75 degrees F  12 to 15 days
 Cauliflower  65 to 75 degrees F  5 to 10 days
 Celery  70 to 75 degrees F  10 to 14 days
 Collard  70 to 75 degrees F  5 to 10 days
 Corn  75 to 85 degrees F  7-10 days
 Cucumber  70 to 85 degrees F  7 to 10 days
 Eggplant  75 to 85 degrees F  10 to 12 days
 Endive  70 to 75 degrees F  10 to 14 days
 Kale  70 to 75 degrees F  5 to 10 days
 Kohlrabi  70 to 75 degrees F  5 to 10 days
 Lettuce  65 to 70 degrees F  7 to 10 days
 Melon  80 to 85 degrees F  5 to 10 days
 Mustard Greens  70 degrees F  5 to 10 days
 Okra  80 to 85 degrees F 7 to 14 days
 Onion, bulbing  70 to 75 degrees F  10 to 14 days
 Onion, bunching  60 to 70 degrees F  10 to 14 days
 Parsnip 70 degrees F  14 to 21 days
 Pea  65 to 70 degrees F  7 to 14 days
 Pepper  78 to 85 degrees F  10 to 14 days
 Pumpkin  70 to 75 degrees F  7 to 10 days
 Radish  65 to 70 degrees F  5 to 7 days
 Rutabaga  65 to 70 degrees F  7 to 15 days
 Spinach  70 degrees F   7 to 14 days
 Spinach, New Zealand  75 degrees F  10 to 15 days
 Squash, Summer  75 to 85 degrees F  7 to 14 days
 Squash, Winter  75 to 80 degrees F  7 to 14 days
 Swiss Chard  70 to 75 degrees F  7 to 14 days
 Tomato  75 to 80 degrees F  7 to 14 days
 Turnip  65 to 70 degrees F  7 to 14 days
 Watermelon  75 to 85 degrees F  7 to 14 days

 


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