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Soil Testing Made Easy #DailyDishMagazine

Soil profile 236x288 38.76 KB. Units are inches.

Soil profile 236×288 38.76 KB. Units are inches. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now that we did a structure test , the next step is to do a soil test. The chemical makeup of the soil also influences how plants develop. Soil test readings not only tell you where your soil pH level falls; but also how to correct it. This test will also tell you which nutrients your soil lacks.
You can purchase a kit online or through your County Cooperative Extension office. Extension offices are affiliated with your state agricultural college and can provide you with a correct assessment of your soil.
Here are the basic steps for getting the most accurate readings from your soil test kit:

  • Choose an area you need tested such as a flower bed, vegetable garden or lawn. Sample the soil from 10 random sites in that area.
  • Take your sample from a depth of 6 to 8 inches. This soil is considered to planting area. Its where the roots will thrive or fail. Try to avoid taking samples from areas near gravel roads, compost, mushroom soil or where fertilizer was recently applied.
  • Mix the samples together from the given area and spread the bulk of this collection out onto a sheet of newspaper.
  • Remove any twigs, stones and foreign material.
  • Spread the remaining soil into a single layer and allow to air dry.
  • Fill the test bag to the line (about a cup). Always save another cup until you get your results back just in case there is a problem.
  • Fill out the questionaire. The kit includes groupings of kinds of gardens. Each area has different soil requirements and the test will tell you what to add and when to get the most from that particular spot.
  • Mail your sample early in the week to shorten results time.

A copy of your test results are sent to your county extension agent. If you have any questions about the results or how to proceed with the recommendations the agent can help you. Handy, right?
By improving soil structure and doing a soil test, you can look forward to having your most productive growing season ever.
If you have any questions about soil testing or garden questions, please drop me a note at cindy@cindysrecipesandwritings.com subject garden sense and I will answer them in this column or by return email. Happy Gardening!

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About the author

Cindy's Recipes and Writings

As a professional cook, I love creating exciting new recipes on the job as well as at home. Assisting in teaching low-income families how to buy, store and prepare healthy food through Penn State’s alliance with Pennsylvania’s Supercupboard Program was very rewarding. During my 11 years with the Master Gardener program, I taught horticultural therapy to assisted living patients using healthful, fr
esh grown food as a focal point. . My hands-on programs and instruction helped hundreds of children and adults learn about where their food comes from and how important fresh food is for your body.
Currently I’m a cook at a college in Pennsylvania. We prepare everything we can from scratch, including our potato chips that tout the seasoning of the day!
Of course I write about food; it's in my blood!

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