Raised Bed, Atlantic Dill Giant Pumpkins

Asked April 17, 2016, 2:17 PM EDT

I'am 2 years into trying to grow Atlantic Dills. As my research expands, I am trying to enhance my chances through soil prep, and fertilizers. One of the biggest equalizers, is the short growing season in CO. I have chosen a raised bed because I can more quickly produce adequate soil, and amend. The proper ph is suggested in the 6.5 to 6.8 range. I am now hovering around 7.0 to 7.2 range.
I need suggestions on how to drop the ph into that desired zone?
Also, where can I send soil samples for testing?

Weld County Colorado fruits and vegetables

1 Response

Thank you for contacting the Weld County Master Gardeners.

I commend you on this difficult challenge. As you’ve stated, Colorado does have a short growing season, and even that can change depending on where in Colorado an individual lives. Colorado has a semi arid climate, that’s cool and dry with highly variable temperatures and precipitations. But this challenge is easily overcome by the use of greenhouses, cold frames, windbreaks and garden tunnels.

The major challenge to Colorado gardeners is Colorado’s soil, and the soil’s ability to support plant growth. 80% of all plant problems are soil related; basically it’s all about the root-soil interface! For successful gardening, Colorado gardeners need to understand the physical properties of our unique soil as well as understanding the soil as a living system with organisms that need to be nurtured. It comes down to understanding the soil’s physical properties and working with what you have. Colorado soil is low in organic matter, with a high clay content and high pH that is generally high in calcium carbonate also known as free lime. If your soil contains free lime, it is impractical and somewhat impossible to change or lower the pH because free lime is a buffer against pH changes. Unfortunately some vegetables, flowers, or trees etc just cannot thrive in Colorado; even working with a raised bed you still may not be able to bring the soil to the right conditions for optimal growth of Atlantic Dill Giant Pumpkins.

I’ve included a few links to information that I believe will be of assistance to you in trying to obtain your goal. I’ve also included links to how soil is collected for testing, where you can obtain soil testing kits and where the soil testing kit can be sent to.

Soil, Water and Plant Testing Laboratory at Colorado State University; includes locations to pick up soil kits. http://www.soiltestinglab.colostate.edu/

CMG GardenNotes: #221 Soil Tests http://www.ext.colostate.edu/mg/Gardennotes/221.html

CMG GardenNotes: #213 Managing Soil Tilth: Texture, Structure, and Pore Space: http://www.ext.colostate.edu/mg/Gardennotes/213.html

CMG GardenNotes: #222 Soil PH http://www.ext.colostate.edu/mg/Gardennotes/222.html

How Your Soil Test Results are Like a Margarita: Posted by: Tony Koski, Turfgrass Extension Specialist, 2014, March 1. http://csuhort.blogspot.com/2014/03/how-your-soil-test-results-are-like.html

Liz U
Weld County Colorado Master Gardener
525 North 15th Avenue
Exhibition Building, Island Grove Park
Greeley, CO 80631
(970) 304-6535