I’ve had veggie gardens for years, and always compost and mulch well in the fall and spring. We have a worm bin, and I spread the castings, use the “tea” in my watering (from the rain barrels), and I rotate my crops so the soil stays healthy. Despite all that, this year’s garden is off to a slow start.
Those are pepper plants, with peas & cucumbers behind them. I’ve been fighting off crows, who like to eat the seeds as soon as I sow them, but even so – everything looks dried up. I water thoroughly every few days when it’s hot, but I started paying closer attention because of how puny everything looks.
After a week of careful monitoring, I realized that the beds are drying out in a matter of hours. Seeds can’t germinate in dry soil, and it’s no wonder everything is small and weak. My soil has gotten very sandy. And the level has dropped – usually the beds are full to the top of the boards.
The compost I used had too much wood in it and not enough organic material. Veggie gardens draw a lot of nutrients from the soil, and they’ve run out of fuel. Friends told me I needed more poop in the garden, but it’s kind of late in the season to be supplementing the soil; to try and avoid burning my plants I mixed some steer manure with compost and put down an inch or so over the gardens, carefully going around the wee plants.
Look at the difference in color! My soil is all parched and lifeless. Poor plants, I’ve been starving them. I’ll water more often, and this fall I’ll load up on more manure; for now, I hope this saves this year’s harvest.