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Soils, Fertilizers and Irrigation

- If Your Land Needs It At All
Alfalfa Over Hardpan
Alkali Gypsum And Shade Trees
Almond Hulls And Sawdust
An Abuse Of Grape Pomace
Application Of Manure Ashes
Applying Thomas Phosphate
Artesian Water
Ashes And Poultry Manure
Barnyard Manure And Alkali
Blasting Or Tiling
Bones For Grape Vines
California That I Am Very Much Puzzled Which Kind To Select
Caustic Lime Not A Good Absorbent
Charcoal Is A Medicine Not A Food

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Wood Ashes And Tomatoes

Is there any harm to vegetable growing to dig sufficient of wood ashes
in for mellowing heavy soil? My tomato plants grew splendidly this year,
but the fruits were all rough and wrinkled. I gave them plenty of horse
and poultry manure at planting and plenty of wood ashes and falling
leaves of cypress later.

Wood ashes do not mellow a heavy soil. The effect of the potash is to
overcome the granular structure and increase compactness. Coal ashes,
because they are coarser in particles and devoid of potash, do promote
mellowness, and are valuable mechanically on a heavy soil although they
do not contain appreciable amounts of plant food. You are overfeeding
your tomato plants, probably. The chances are that you had poor seed.
There is no best tomato, because you ought to grow early and late kinds:
there is also some difference in the behavior of varieties in different

Was It the Potash or the Water?

Last year the lye from the prune dipper was turned on the ground near
two almond trees which seemed to be dying, and to my surprise they have
taken a new lease of life. Hence my conclusion that potash was good for
our soil.

Your experience seems to justify the application of potash, surely, but
the question still remains, how much good the potash did the trees, and
how much they needed the extra water which the waste dips supplied. It
would be desirable for you to make another experiment with other trees,
applying wood ashes, if you have them, or about four pounds per tree of
the potash which you use for dipping, scattering well and working it
into the soil after it is moistened by the rains, and not using any more
water than the trees ordinarily received from rainfall. After this trial
you will be in a position to know whether your trees need potash or
irrigation - by comparing with other trees adjacent. Besides are you
sure that your lye dip was caustic potash and not caustic soda? The
latter has no fertilizing value.

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