Growing a beautiful landscape starts with the soil under your feet. You can't see what nutrients your soil contains; but a soil test can. The results tell us if and what type of fertilizer is needed for the plants we are growing.
Check your yellow pages or contact your local Extension service for details on submitting a sample.
It's a simple test. Slide away the mulch and remove a slice of soil, 4 to 6 inches deep, right where the plant roots grow.
Take several samples from the garden you want to test. Combine the samples and place them in the mailing bag. Allow several weeks for the test to be complete and the results to be returned.
You can take a soil test anytime the ground isn't frozen and you havent recently fertilized. I like fall to beat the rush or early spring so I can make needed changes in my fertilization.
So dig in for a healthier garden.
A bit more information: While waiting for the soil test results do a bit of investigation on your own. All you need is a straight sided clear jar, a handful of garden soil and a drop of non-foaming detergent. Remove all the sticks, stones and mulch from the soil and place in the clean jar. Add enough water to fill 3/4 of the jar. Place a drop of detergent in the mix and shake vigorously for a couple of minutes. This is a great way to help young gardeners burn off excess energy.
Now set the jar in a space where it can remain undisturbed for several days. Check the jar for settling. The first layer will be the larger sand particles. The next will be the medium sized silt particles and the fine clay will finally settle in a day or two. Compare the layers to calculate the percent of each in your soil. Then consult the soil triangle below (thanks to Iowa State University) to determine the texture of your soil. Compare your results to those of the soil lab. It is a fun activity for the whole family and a great way to get kids excited about the garden and outdoors.
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