Garden Plot Problem

Asked March 15, 2018, 9:29 AM EDT

SOS! I have a garden plot with Columbia Gardeners. Our plot is comprised of three large raised beds. We mulch with newspaper and straw. Our plot is usually very prosperous. Last year, my husband added soil to the beds using bags of Scotts Garden Soil. He tilled it in along with the old soil and the decomposed bedding that was left from last year. When we planted our vegetables, it was a disaster. Everything had a strong reaction to the soil and basically died or was stunted within one week. We replanted (such as tomatoes) and the same thing happened to the new plants. The only things that did ok were the onions. We then planted some tomatoes outside of the bed and they did well. My question is this. We are getting ready to get the plot ready for this year. What can we do to mitigate the problem? Should we just purchase top soil and add it to the beds, tilling it in well? Do you have any further suggestions? Appreciate any help you can provide.

Howard County Maryland

1 Response

How frustrating!
It will not be easy to figure out exactly what has happened in your garden, but we can suggest future direction.
First take a look at this page from our website about soil contamination:
http://extension.umd.edu/learn/gardener-alert-beware-herbicide-contaminated-compost-and-manure
Besides that, are there any chemical herbicides being used within the garden or nearby?
What we would suggest is a bio-assay test that you can do yourself.
This consists of testing the soil and straw from your garden.
If you actually have any of the Scotts soil by itself, you could test it as well. In a gallon container, take some of your straw, chop it up, and mix it with fresh/clean soil-less growing mix, 1/4 straw to 3/4 of growing medium.
Plant a couple bean or pea seeds and see if they germinate, and if they look normal when they come up.
Repeat the process with the soil from your garden, again 1/4 of your soil mixed with 3/4 of the soil-less media in a gallon container.

We would like to hear/ see what your results are. You could reply back directly to this question. It would help to know which garden as well.
Good luck!

cm