enter image description here The test came back pH a tiny bit to low but the sodium, sulfur, potassium and phosphorus are way to high. Manganese to low. We are square foot gardening. Raised beds. Made. Mel's. Mix with 1/3 Vermiculite 1/3 peat and 1/3 Eko compost(which comes from yard waste through the city. ANY ONE have any ideas on how to get things a little more balanced? Would lime help at all?

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    Are you saying this is the soil test for your Mel's Mix? Sep 1, 2017 at 22:43

3 Answers 3


I'm not currently an expert on soil science. However, it looks like adding extra lime (for calcium and to raise the pH) and especially manganese should help.

Low manganese is probably going to be an even worse problem after you add calcium/lime, since manganese is less available in more alkaline soil and more available in acidic soil. You'll want to use manganese sulfate instead of manganese EDTA, as the other may make it even less available. However, your sulfur is high; I'm not sure if manganese sulfate will be a problem there.

I think that the bar graph may tell you availability, and not the soil content, exactly (maybe I'm wrong). So, what I would recommend is correcting your soil pH first, and then doing another soil test, and see how the availability of the other nutrients changes. Changing the pH will change the availability of different minerals (whether for better or worse depends, but if you're correcting your pH, it's usually for the better).

Anyway, that high boron concerns me (more than the sodium). I wonder what caused it. If that doesn't go away after correcting the pH, you may need to do something to help wash it (and the sodium) out, provided you have water that isn't high in boron.

Adding lime should help with your sulfur problem, I'm guessing.

Blacksmith37's idea of adding nothing to the soil might be the best option. If you do that, you might try growing anything that will grow in it (including weeds) for a season or two and seeing if they use up much of the high nutrients. Mixing other soil into it may also help, if you have enough. Here's a list of more sodium-tolerant plants. Here's a PDF about plants that are sensitive and tolerant to boron.

If you have soft water or such, you'll want to stop watering with it.

  • Thank you. You all have been more helpful than the county extension office! Sep 2, 2017 at 1:28
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    And yes it is telling me what is available your correct... Should I do a test with our local county extension office that is testing soil content and not just availability before I do anything? Sep 2, 2017 at 21:35
  • Thanks. I wouldn't bother doing the content test unless you or someone else knows a lot about how the minerals interact with each other, and what some good balances to strive for are. The ppm numbers at the bottom, though (not the graph), aren't they the contents, or are they what is available, also? Sep 2, 2017 at 23:31
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    That's what's in my soil it says Sep 3, 2017 at 19:46

I would say; don;t do anything, especially stop putting on fertilizer ( N P K ).

  • OK I think I didn't give the exact info you wanted they are boxes.. Open bottom on the ground. So basicly just sides. . Then filled with sand. The Mel's. Mix is Not purchased pre mixed we mixed them. I'll try to add photos. My husband agrees. On the compost being the issue... So for this season it is what it is but for the next season we will be changing things that are. In the boxes.. Sep 2, 2017 at 21:41
  • I can't figure out how to add pjotos Sep 2, 2017 at 21:42

Go get some sterilized potting soil (without added fertilizer or water holding sponges/gels) and redo your planter. Potting soil is almost always in the proper pH zone neutral to a bit acidic. I am so glad you did a soil test!! How big is your garden? Please, a picture. Perhaps there is too much soil necessary to replace for your raised beds.

Yes, lime would help! Then I would add a simple balanced fertilizer next year that is lower in Nitrogen than the P and the K. Do you have a way to test pH on your own? Have you added any fertilizer? What is the drainage like for your raised beds? Raised beds are almost pots and should be treated like potted artificial ecosystems. I am assuming these are out of doors. Tell us more about the construction of these beds!

Good for you to get a soil test! I am impressed!

  • These beds are 24"tall the bottom is filled with sand and top 8 " filled with my mixed soil.. Or" Mel's mix. I have 2 boxes that are each 4x12. We did this because the older we get (and injuries) make it easier to care for and get into... Thank you for the tips. Replacing it 100% would be costly not sure I can do that. But I can just grow stuff to use up things... I can test on my own and yes it tells me what is available to the plants.. I'm new to all of this soil testing so I am clueless. Sep 2, 2017 at 1:32
  • So there are bottoms to these boxes? The sand will not help drainage oddly enough. Causes a perched water table where the soil, Mel's soil, will have to be saturated before the water begins to slowly move into the sand. 4X12 would be pretty easy to replace the soil as well as inexpensive. Drill holes in the bottom of those boxes, raise the boxes off the ground or patio and fill with plain old sterilized potting soil. I am worried that there are so many chemicals in your soil/compost. Not natural at all. Mel's soil...look on the list of ingredients please. Take a picture and send?
    – stormy
    Sep 2, 2017 at 18:32
  • I punched some numbers and basing a big bag of 'Happy Frog' potting soil which is top of the line potting soil at 2 cubic feet each bag (might be 2.2) that would mean 6 bags of soil at roughly $20 each or $120 for the two planters. Now this is the most expensive I ever buy. Cheap potting soil can be half that much and that would be perfectly fine. So you are looking at $60 to $80 for soil. I would go with the cheapest potting soil that is sterilized, no added fertilizers or sponges/gels. You could also raise the floor of those boxes by 6", drill holes in that and then install the soil.
    – stormy
    Sep 2, 2017 at 19:08
  • Mel's mix of soil, is it sterilized? Is the vermiculite, peat moss and Eko compost the Mel's Mix itself or added to Mel's mix? One of the worst things about compost you buy from a store or facility is that it is made up of homeowner grass clippings and other debris. This is most likely the source of all your chemistry. Full of pesticide residues (I've tried soils with compost added where i could not grow a petunia) and weed seeds. Weeds aren't a big deal to me but the pesticides are and the worse part is you have no way to know without a soil test. Soil tests do not show everything..sooo
    – stormy
    Sep 2, 2017 at 19:17
  • I would get rid of that sand and Mel's mix to start with a clean slate. Add drain holes. Raise the bottom and drill holes. A dozen inch wide holes. Where are these pots? On your patio? Is it covered? Make sure any plant you purchase is acclimated to the sunlight where these pots will go. If you are doing seeds plant on moist soil that has been firmed well. Do not soak when watering, Use a spray bottle until the plants have enough roots to suck up water. Use a simple extended release fertilizer (OSMOCOTE 14-14-14) at half the direction amount. Once per season. Plants are expensive...
    – stormy
    Sep 2, 2017 at 19:23

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