Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Time to test the soil
Every garden book I have ever read starts out by saying the soil it the most important thing about gardening. They say if the soil it right, you will have a better garden. That is why it is time to do a soil test, now, while there there are not a dozen garden chores you need to do. It also is a good time because the testing facilities won't be so busy since most people procrastinate.
A soil test is easy to do and it doesn't take very much time. You dig up dirt from a number of areas in your garden (or lawn) and put it all in a bucket. Stir is up and put the amount required for the test in a bag or a plastic bag, fill out the information and send the soil in to the testing lab.
You have two options, one is to send the sample into the the state testing lab and the other is to send it to a private lab.
Over the year we have done both. The cost of a simple test in Georgia where we live is $8. Last year we had a more comprehensive test done and the cost was $25. Though the $8 cost was very appealing, and it does let you know what kind of basic soil amendments we needed, the $25 test gave us information on how our soil micro nutrients that were very helpful.
It's easy to get the information, just check with your local extension agency. In Georgia, the web address is http://aesl.ces.uga.edu/soiltest123/Georgia.htm. You will get all the information plus a nice video explaining the process, and where to take your sample by giving your zip code.
For other states it is easy, too. I did a search for soil testing, then the state. For instance, when I did this for Alabama, the web address is, http://www.aces.edu/anr/soillab, for Colorado -- http://www.soiltestinglab.colostate.edu and for Vermont -- http://pss.uvm.edu/ag_testing/?Page=soils.html.
When we did the test by a private lab, we took ours to Country Garden Farms. I think this is helping because our soil gets better every year.