bad soil and low signal.

I’m in shock. I took soil samples to the Ag Extension service for analysis expecting to get a fine tune reading on what the soil lacks, if anything. The results are that on a scale of 1 to 500, 500 being excellent, I am a 25. That’s two five. An ideal PH is 5-5 to 6.5, slightly acid; I’m 7.0-7.8, very basic (salty). They say I need to add sulphur to move from alkaline to acid and lots of fast acting fertilizer to get it somewhere respectable in terms of all other things needed. They have it double underlined that I need to add organic material. Holy crap, I’ve literally added tons of organic material. I wonder what it was before I started working on it. I knew it was bad but it must have been totally off the charts. Before it was a garden it was a pigeon coop and I guess whatever was used in raising pigeons, really bombed the soil. I did pick the areas I was most concerned about for the three samples and figured if those spots were ok, the rest would be just fine. I also took the samples after pulling out the spent plants so maybe the soil condition was better when I planted them 4 months ago; the plants sucked out all the good stuff. One interesting thing is that the area where the eggplants that I’m raving about are growing is almost 100% organic material. No native soil at all. The other thing is that where I planted this season, I added loads of organics directly under the plant (to foil nematodes) and that’s not where I sampled which would explain how my plants looked good growing in this disaster soil. The person at the Ag center likened my planting method to container gardening in that I virtually isolated the plants from the native soil. I won’t be planting anything new until mid Sept so that gives me two months to rectify the problems. I have my work cut out for me. The new garden expansion area will be 100% organic so I’ll have an excellent test area.

In addition to working the soil, I pulled a book from the library that gave me a few clues on home remedies to solve my tomato woes. Seems like egg shells are a magic ingredient, especially if crushed and mixed with water for a couple of days. Right along side that was a recipe that mixed a skim milk and water in a 9:1 ratio. Another remedy is to mix dried skim milk, epson salts, and a little baking soda – all of which is sprinkled in the hole before planting and then liberally on the surface near the base of the plants from time to time. At the moment we don’t have any powdered skim milk but that will change with the next visit to Publix. I planted two grape tomato plants about a month ago and I am using all these remedies on those plants so I should have a good idea what to expect when I plant seriously in September.

Had a Virgin Mobile happening this week. For two days we were unable to connect to the internet, first time in over a month. Here we go again. I called Virgin and they showed me how to check my signal strength and then declared that the reason I was unable to connect was signal related. The signal strength read -125, which I take to mean -125 dbm. A good signal is between -85 and -95. The tech said that she would switch me from channel 3 to channel 9 where the signal would possibly be better for my location and said that it would take a couple of hours for the switch to occur. In the mean time we packed up the lap top and headed down to Seminole County to hit Costco. I figured we would check signal strength there and verify that we could still connect to the internet – that it wasn’t something worse than a signal strength problem. Sure enough in Altamonte Springs we had 3 bars, a signal reading of -90 dbm, and a good, fast internet connection. Back at home a few hours later, quick connection. The signal strength was much improved, -104. Still weaker than recommended but apparently adequate for our needs. No way of knowing if the channel switch or changed atmospherics was responsible but I don’t really care. I was also disappointed to find that the signal strength was the same with or without the antenna. Supposedly there was 9db gain in the antenna but that doesn’t seem to be happening. I’ll play around with that for a while and then have a chat with the antenna guys.

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