Seed & Weed Wednesday; Soil Testing
Now is the time to get your soil in tip top condition for your garden which means soil testing. If this seems out of your league, trust me – I’ve got your back! It is as simple as sending a soil sample to your local cooperative extensions office. I am going to walk you through exactly how to do it.
Find your local Cooperative Extensions office online. Here in CT it is through UConn. Every state university has one, and they will be your best resource for local gardening assistance. They will be the ones that will analyze your soil sample, so you will need their submission form.
Collect all the items you will need for soil testing:
a bowl or bucket
a ziploc baggie
Dig down 8 inches in each corner of your garden as well as the middle and take a small sample from that depth. Place all the samples together in your bowl and mix together. Make sure you have no living critters in your mix. (I had some worms I needed to remove!)
*Note – If you have a particularly troublesome garden, send in a separate soil sample for testing that specific garden, do not mix in with the other samples. (Also do not mix gardens and lawn samples – they have very different needs)
Place your soil sample in a ziploc baggie, sealing it well. Using a sharpie, label your sample. Mine is labeled “Vegetable Garden”
Place in a mailing envelope along with your filled out sample submission form from your local extensions office. Don’t forget to enclose the check for the correct amount as well. Attach the appropriate postage and mail it off to your local Cooperative Extensions.
I’ve Sent My Soil for Testing, Now What Happens?
Now you wait….This time of year, it will take a couple weeks to get your results because they are so busy. (That’s one reason why it is better to do it in the Fall) Your local extensions office will analyze your soil and let you know the results along with suggested amendments. They will only be looking at nutrients – they will not be telling you chemical exposure, etc. If that is a service you need, call them up and see if they also offer that for an additional fee. Do not exceed the suggested amendment amounts – this is one of those cases where more is NOT better – it will throw your soil off balance and could potentially kill your plants.