In the battle of east v. west, the east is winning.  I’m referring to the planters of course and while it is not a battle (it is not even a competition), there are stark differences in their performance so far.  Everything in the east planter (the one we built last year) is doing well:  We’ve been eating radishes for weeks, the peas have started to yield and the squash, cucumbers and beets all look healthy and robust.  On the other hand, everything in the west planter (which was only built this year) is looking downright anemic.  The tomatoes have shown no significant growth, the basil is looking smaller than it was when we planted it and the lettuces, parsley and cilantro are still at the micro-green scale, a month after sowing.

Why is not immediately clear.  We have been having a lot of rain and it is true that basil and tomatoes prefer drier conditions.  It has also been relatively cool (not counting the intermittent heat waves of April and May) and that might be a factor.  The most likely cause, however, is the soil.  A test of the soil in the first planter which we did last fall (see September 27, 2011) indicated that we had very high concentrations of macronutrients.  Based on this result, we adjusted the soil mix in the second planter to include less compost, the main source of Phosphorus, Potassium, Magnesium and Calcium, among others.  It is possible that we overcompensated.

We have not done a soil test this year (it is on my to-do list) but just to be on the safe side, we decided to side dress everything with Garden-tone (3-4-4), a low-intensity, general purpose fertilizer (this will also supply a dose of Nitrogen, a deficiency of which might be restricting the growth and producing the yellowing leaves).  For the individual plants, we placed a small mound of the granular product adjacent (but not too close) to their stems.  Between the row plants, we spread a trail of fertilizer parallel to the rows.  We covered everything with mulch (adding it to the lettuces, parsley and cilantro and to the radish rows that are now empty) and it will get watered in this evening.