Q. As you have probably read, California received over 35 inches of rain this winter and as a result, our Community Gardens flooded and were under a foot of water for quite some time. The soil has taken a very long time to dry out and still is quite moist.
My question is this. Since we had runoff from surrounding areas, like a storage yard and a nature center, I am wondering what we should do to be sure our soil is not contaminated with bad bacteria. Someone suggested that we use lime at a rate of 3 pounds per garden plot (600 square feet). I know that lime will change the PH of our soil.
What would you suggest in regard to dealing with contaminated soil? And, what should we use if PH is changed? We have sent a sample of our soils to a lab for analysis regarding toxins. They are planting radishes and wheatgrass to see what those plants take up from our soil. But, it is time to plant things here and I was wondering what options we had to take care of any bad bacteria in our soil.
A. As it happens, radishes are an excellent thing to plant in your situation. They are hardy, will grow quickly, and show symptoms of deficiency, disease, etc. very well.
Do you have The Garden Doctor series? Watch your plants and see what they tell you.
Meanwhile, apply the Pre-Plant fertilizer mix in the recommended dosages of 2# in each 18″ X 30′ soil bed or Grow-Box (more than 10 times the rate someone suggested). And add Weekly Feed to each bed at the rate of 1# in each 18″ X 30′ bed or box. By the way, it takes 1000# of lime per acre to raise the pH one point. That’s 1# for every 4.365 square feet, so 2# in 600 square feet won’t do anything for or against your pH.
Ordinarily, you do not receive more than 20 inches of rain each year, do you? One flooding shouldn’t change the pH and make your soil acidic, so as to require lime. If you normally receive under 20″ of rain per year, the Pre-Plant mix should have gypsum, instead of lime, so since gypsum is pH neutral, it won’t raise your pH, but it does everything else lime will do for you.
I believe the chances are slight that you will suffer harm from disease, etc coming from your neighbors as a result of the rain.
Will the lab tell you your pH? Let me know what they say.
If it was my garden, I’d prepare the beds as recommended above, build the ridges, and plant. Planting won’t HURT you, and most likely will be a benefit.