Late this winter (or early this spring) I was contacted to try out some of John and Bob's Organic Soil Amendments. They have a variety of different formulations that contain humus, beneficial minerals, and microbes that help the soil do what it does best - feed the plants! They sent me several things to test and I fully intended to run a comparison evaluation of John and Bob's products by utilizing my vegetable garden beds as testing beds. I was going to have a bed with the amendments and one without then compare the same variety of tomatoes. Unfortunately life hasn't been too kind to us this year and many of my best intentions have fallen woefully short of my expectations. But I did end up spreading the amendments on most of my garden beds and can pass on a few observations.
My first observation was that blossom end rot on my tomatoes was almost nonexistent. Blossom end rot happens because of nutrient deficiency (calcium). Either the soil doesn't have enough calcium for the plant, drought conditions don't allow for the uptake of nutrients, or excessive nitrogen in the soil causes the poor cell formation in the fruit. In any case there is an imbalance in the soil and I only saw a couple tomatoes at the beginning of the season that had blossom end rot.
Secondly the garden grew like mad! The tomatoes grew fast and furious as did the melons. In almost all cases the vegetables grew faster than I had time to control. Obviously there are many factors that promote rapid growth but a majority of them have to do with the health of the soil.
Disease issues were minimal. Most of the typical diseases I see from year to year like the various blights, verticulum wilts, and such were minimal. My cucumbers looked great until I accidentally removed their shallow roots from the soil with no signs of wilt. The tomatoes did see some signs of blight but have continued to produce edible and delicious tomatoes. The melon vines grew like kudzu! OK maybe not quite that extreme but they grew fast and strong until the vine borer decided to rear its ugly head. Next year I'll be wrapping the base of my cucurbits with foil to prevent the borer from laying its eggs in my squash and melons.
John and Bob's Organic Soil Amendments I do believe they helped. What I think is great about these products is that they feed the soil. They aren't a fertilizer that gives the plants a quick burst of growth then quickly subsides but rather they add long lasting nutrients and organisms to the soil to improve its quality. They are extremely easy to apply too, just sprinkle the amount on top of the soil and water them in. It really doesn't get much simpler than that!
This fall I'll apply some to the lawn in the front yard to try to improve the soil quality there. It needs a lot of help!
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