For years I’ve heard that having your soil tested is so important to gardening endeavors and plant health.

“Feed the soil and not the plant!”

I’ve heard…but I didn’t listen until this year when I enrolled in the Master Gardening Class.  I’ve learned so much in these classes but what I’ve learned most – the “why” for what I’ve been doing in the garden for years.

Soil testing is the “why” some plants make it and others don’t.  Such a simple test and yet, the dividends are huge!

They had the soil sample packets available in class so I picked up a few…

The instructions seemed fairly easy.  Use clean sampling tools (hand shovels) and containers.

Never use tools or containers that have been used for mixing or applying fertilizer or limestone.  A small amount of residue on the containers can cause serious contamination of the sample.

Remove any surface litter such as turf thatch or mulch.

For lawns, sample to a depth of 4″.  For gardens, ornamentals and fruit trees, sample to a depth of 6 inches.

Cut a thin slice from the side of the opening that’s of uniform thickness, approximately 1/4 inch thick and  2 inches in width.

(We may not have been as precise on this step!)

Take about 5 – 10 samples of soil from the area you want tested and mix them together in the container.

Toto was in charge of the back pasture.  She went to the 4 corners for samples and took one from the center of the pasture. Then she mixed them together.  This soil doesn’t look very promising!

Fill the soil sample bag to the indicated line with the mixed soil.

I took samples from my blueberry patch, the back pasture, the bare spots in the pasture…

the vegetable garden and the orchard.

When I receive the reports back, they will give me the exact amounts of what needs to be added to the soil to make it productive for the plants I’ve planted in that area.

Now, I realize that being in the Master Gardening Class has made this process fairly easy for me.

Where would you find the agency to help you with your soil testing?

Check with your local extensions if you have them in your area or contact the local University or the one closest to you.  I also googled “soil testing” and there were lots of places all over that came up.

DO NOT soil test yourself with the kits from the store.  (I did this year’s ago)  They aren’t accurate and as one professor said – a waste of money.

Take the time to feed your soil exactly what it needs and your plants will thank you!