Soil Care in the Common Good Garden

By Jamie Pacheco, BTLT Programs Manager

At the end of the 2020 season Dev Culver, Common Good Garden volunteer leader, pulled soil samples from the majority of the beds used for growing in the Common Good Garden. Soil tests indicated that the 4 plots with the most use have extremely low levels of nitrogen, mid range micronutrient levels, and mid range organic matter levels. The new section of the Common Good Garden has more available nitrogen, and to some degree more organic matter, however these plots also had mid range amounts of most other nutrients.  

This year, Culver, and the rest of the volunteer crew who farm the Common Good Garden at TSCG, cover cropped one of the 8 beds that are used for growing food for Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program. Cover cropping is an important tool for adding nitrogen back into the soil, breaking plant and soil disease cycles, and building soil hummus. Oats were used, which will winter kill, allowing us to plant the bed in the 2022 growing season. The 2021 soil tests should show more organic matter and higher nitrogen levels going into the 2022 season.

Delaney Bullock, Bowdoin College student, ran a soil fertility growing trail in one of the beds of the Common Good Garden at the Tom Settlemire Community Garden. Bullock’s project was part of an independent study, and was overseen by the Merrymeeting Food Council who partnered with BTLT to gain access to growing space for Bullock. The growing trial compared crop growth grown alongside seaweed and green crab emulsions. Click here to read more about the trial! This section of the garden should show higher levels of organic matter and trace minerals in the 2021 soil test. Ocean products are a great source of trace minerals because they are abundant in ocean ecosystems.

We highly recommend that plot holders test their soil and modify the soil management practices based on the findings of their soil tests.