I was actually in the middle of writing a blog post about giant tomatoes and how they might be the next big thing that people will try a lot more of growing, especially since the world record hadn’t been broken for over 28 years.  And boom, just the next day the world record is broken by Dan MacCoy and his 8.41lb Tomato.

I may still do a post about the tomato scene, but I’ve put it on the back burner at the moment.

Soil Preparation

We’ve been having some great weather recently, so after putting the new fuel tank on the rotary hoe and getting some more oil as someone decided to put in the chainsaw as bar oil, it was time to dig some dirt.

It went really well until I randomly hit this:

Found in patch

and it got caught up in the tines, I was not a happy camper at this point and it took about 20 minutes to remove it, at one point I didn’t think I would be able to get it out.  Man I hate when people just leave things to rust and rot away.

So the patch looks good all dug up, and I started thinking about do I do a cover crop?  And I thought, no, not this year and I’ll explain that in a bit.

But I did get some lime

I’m not sure if I have mentioned this on the site before but this year I have been doing a horticulture course, which at the end of it I will get the national certificate in horticulture level 3.  It has been going really well and I have been learning all sorts of information but just this last couple of weeks we have started the soil papers.

Now as we all know soil is very important for anything grown in it, it provides the nutrients for the plants to grow and all of this can be better achieved if it has the right balance of beneficial micro organisms etc.

As for the PH level, mine is sitting around 5.7 and like a lot of locations around NZ it is in need to bringing it up to a better level.  A range of between 6 – 7 promotes the greatest availability of plant nutrients.  To understand that a bit better have a look at this diagram:

Nutrient Availibility with PH Levels

It shows you in a graphical way how easy the nutrients are available to the plants depending on the PH level.

My soil test results also indicated that my calcium and magnesium were on the low scale, so for a product to apply I went with this:

Dolomite Front Packaging

Dolomite has the added benefit of having magnesium in there as well as the normal calcium found in normal garden lime.

Dolomite back packaging

You will be able get this in bulk at a much cheaper price, but for my patch size, ease of handling etc 24kg’s of this at this point in time is enough.  Make sure to check out the recommended application rates and work out what you need.

Dolomite in the bag

Dolomite in the bag

So what else does the lime do?

As well as raising the PH level which it does by replacing hydrogen ions in the soil, it provides the two nutrients of calcium and magnesium.  It also makes any phosphorous added to the soil more available for plant growth and can hasten the decomposition of organic matter which increases the availability of nitrogen.

It is relatively cheap compared to other things you can add to the soil and has a lot of benefits, so it is a good idea to apply this early on before any other fertilisers.

Dolomite on patch

Spread out on the patch, then well watered in

Why no cover crop?

I don’t think a cover crop will break down fast enough to provide enough benefit for me to warrant putting one in.  But I do need a lot more organic matter, so I will be putting down a whole heap of compost and mixing it into the soil, hopefully within the next couple of weeks.  There is a possibility I may put some sort of cover on the top of that but time will tell how everything goes.

So there is way more I could talk about with soils and everything, but what I will be doing instead is going through the how-to pages on the website and updating these with a lot more information over time.  Is there anything new you will be doing this season?  Or is there something you want to try or want to find out more about?  Let me know in the comments below.