Too much organic material in soil, too high pH, and what to do about cedar apple rust

Asked May 24, 2016, 10:47 PM EDT

Amanda Laudwein suggested that my wife and I contact you about details on the three garden problems above. Problem number one became apparent after receiving the results of multiple soil tests from our organic vegetable beds. We have too much organic materialand too high pH in a number of our beds and it shows in reduced yield and some increased incidence of fungal disease. Amanda suggested getting some clay soil and incorporate it into each bed to bind nutrients adequately. We have the fill dirt under a tarp now ready to go when it ever stops raining !! The pH problem probably resulted from using ashes from our wood burning stove and raising the pH too much. We have stopped this practice and are trying to find a suitable material to lower the soil pH. Problem number three may not be solvable since we have had this problem before. We have two arbor vitae trees in our front yard near a new pear treethat has now begun to show evidence of apple cedar rust. In our back yard our neighbor has a very mature eastern red cedar about 40 yards from the pear tree. Our questions are: 1- How much clay dirt should be allocated on average per square foot to our beds ? 2- What can we do to sufficiently lower the pH in our beds ? We have an organic garden so we are trying to avoid heavy duty industrial compounds. 3- Besides cutting down the two arbor vitae trees in our front yard is there any conceivable way to stop the cedar apple rust life cycle by using a relatively safe spray or treatment? I have attached half of the soil test results from And L Eastern labs for you to examine so you have a tangible idea as to what the soil conditions are for each test area. Thanks very much, Russell Belcher

Montgomery County Maryland

1 Response

After reviewing your soil test results,the soil pH is fine in the asparagus bed, pH 7.1 is not too high.If potato scab becomes an issue with the potatoes ,then you may want to decrease the alkalinity of the soil with the addition of sulphur.Although the organic matter content is high, it should not have any adverse effects on your crops. We would not suggest adding any soil to your beds.Adding a 10-10-10 fertilizer at 1 pound per 100 square feet will provide sufficient P and K to the soil.There is not much you can do to prevent the occurrence of apple cedar rust..An organic spray of copper applied early and frequently in early spring may help slow it down.