Soil question

Asked July 23, 2016, 8:32 PM EDT

Hello, I'm vegetable gardening 3 miles south of Philomath on Alsea Hwy, up on a hillside. It has seemed for years like the soil is missing something. This spring I put on 4 inches of horse manure/wood chips from the fairground and tilled it in with ammonium sulfate at 10 lbs per inch per 100 sq ft. This year's garden also seems to be struggling. Question 1: I'm wondering where to get a good soil test locally? Question 2: Something seems to be periodically eating the leaves off of my green - cleans then all off and leaves the stalk. Once they start to form new leaves, at a certain point they all get cleaned off again. whatever it is that is doing this, it ignores the lettuce, tomatoes, corn, and squash. I have an electric mesh chicken fence around the garden hoping to keep varmints out. Any ideas what could be eating my green bean leaves? Thanks!

Benton County Oregon

1 Response

Hello I have added a link that will take you to an OSU Extension publication that will give you the addresses and phone numbers of multiple soil labs that support this area. Also included is a chart of basic services each provides. I suggest that you call two or three of the labs listed, explain what it is that you are looking for and then pick one you feel best meets your needs.

This link takes you to an OSU Extension Publication that shows you how to take a soil sample Horse manure that is well composted (6 months to a year) as a soil amendment is useful. Raw manure mixed with wood chips not so much until it has had a chance to age. If it was tilled in and allowed to sit for several weeks prior to planting it would have had a chance to break down some. The wood chips could be a source of your garden’s poor performance this year. Wood chips incorporated into the soil can cause the soil’s available Nitrogen to get locked up by the microbes that need the Nitrogen in order to break down the wood chips. Since you applied a hefty amount of Nitrogen and then tilled I think a soil sample is your best bet to figure out what is going on.

Finally your mystery green (bean?) destroyer. I had the same problem with my beans this year. When I worked the soil before planting I found lots of the small slugs so I believe that the problem in my garden this year was slugs as the leaves first were notched and then had large holes in them and then were gone leaving only a stump of a stalk. The slugs attacked the bean before they could grow a second set of leaves and after the leaves were eaten the plant could not continue to grow. Sometimes birds attack bean seedlings when the seeds first emerge from the soil as the seed coat is still attached to the leaves, they get snipped off very efficiently by the bird who wants the remaining portion of the seed not necessarily the leaves. The birds are also very good at going down a row and ruining a row of emerging beans. I now put bird netting over my bean seedlings until they have dropped the seed coat off their leaves. You can also use a light row cover. Since I lost most of my first set of bean seedlings (under the bird netting) I sprinkled slug bait and reseeded and now have a healthy stand of bean seedlings. To be sure, try going out at night with a flashlight and checking your effected plants that is when you are going to find the slugs if that is indeed the problem or you may find something else.