Saturday, April 24, 2010

Kitchen Gardener | Testing the Soil (2)

To prepare to test your soil you will need a shovel, several non-breakable containers (a plastic bag or plastic seal-able container works great), a marker, and a bucket. Take several samples from the areas you want to be tested. Remove any debris from the soil and allow it to dry. Place the samples in the containers after they have dried and label each one with your personal information and where that particular sample came from in your garden. If you have chosen to test the soil yourself, prepare the soil samples according to soil test manufacturer’s recommendations.
Once the soil test has been performed, you should receive a report from the testing company that will let you know what the various components of your soil are and at what levels. Again, your local cooperative extension agent can help you interpret this report if the testing company does not provide any customer support. Some testing companies will even make recommendations based on their findings.
The soil test will let you know what you may need to add to your soil. Common items included in a soil test are your soil’s Ph level, nitrogen level, potassium level, and phosphorus level. These are the four most important nutrients contained in your soil and can easily be augmented or controlled based on what you add to your soil. A high Ph level means your soil is alkaline and a low Ph means it is acidic. Adding peat moss, nitrogen, or even sulfur can lower your soil’s Ph based on the results of your soil test, while adding something as simple as a nitrogen-rich fertilizer is all that is needed to augment nitrogen-deprived soil.

Soil testing is usually recommended before you start a large planting project, such as a new lawn or large field of vegetables, especially if you have not planted there before. However, if you find that your plants and flowers in your landscaping are lackluster, performing a soil test may give you the exact information you need to have a beautiful garden.

No comments:

Post a Comment