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All Soils are NOT the Same!
Before you start blindly fertilizing and amending your garden, we recommend you get your soil tested for optimum results. Over-fertilization can prohibit your plants from absorbing the micro-nutrients they need. Under-fertilizing will result in weak, sickly, underdeveloped gardens.
1. Plants have a preference of what pH they grow best in. So, if you want to be a successful gardener, you have to know the pH of the soil you have and the pH the plants you want to grow prefer. Once you find out your results, you can either cater your planting to match the soil or try to amend the pH to better suit your planting.
2. Certain nutrients in the soil are available for use by plants at different pH levels. So if your pH is too high, those nutrients will never break down and your plants will never be able to metabolize them.
3. Plants need several minerals to thrive, but if your soil is too acidic many of these minerals can become toxic to your garden.
Step 1: Determine where the roots of your plants will be getting their nutrition. Turf grasses (like your front yard) will have roots only a few inches deep and a sample taken at 3 inches deep is sufficient. Tomato plants can have roots 48 inches or more deep and a sample taken 12-16 inches deep is better.
Step 2: Sample at the beginning of your growing season, not at the end. Many of the nutrients (like nitrogen) can change during the growing season AND during winter. End of season testing can help you replace the minerals plants have used up but will not help you with Nitrogen or pH levels.
Step 3: Taking multiple small samples from a large area and combining them into a single sample provides more accurate results.
Step 4: Place your sample in a water tight seal-able bag and label it with the following information: 1.) Date the sample was taken 2.) A sample reference number or description (eg. tomato garden, front yard, etc.) 3.) Drainage conditions. (slightly sloping, flat, occasional standing water, etc.) 4.) Past management. (tillage, fertilization, liming, pesticides, herbicide use)
When you bring in your soil sample from your lawn or garden to The Soil Kitchen, for only $14, we will test your soil's pH and also for the following: Nitrate Nitrogen, Potassium (Potash), Phosphorus, Humus, Magnesium, Calcium, Sulfate, Aluminum, Chloride, Ferric Iron, Nitrite Nitrogen, Ammonia Nitrogen, and Manganese.