What do you know about soil? You know that it’s the stuff plants are sowed into. You know that it’s generally brown and that kids love playing in it and that it’s good for bee stings and certain wounds. But, can you tell me it’s chemical-nutrient balance? What component are in a particular sample of soil? This is information you need to know when cultivating plants.
Start by testing the ph balance of your soil. This will tell you if it’s too acidic or alkaline. A good balance promotes high nutrition and optimal growth. You can either take you sample to the local stores or pick up test kit at home garden stores. In a ph tests kit you should receive how to balance you soil with rock powders or sands or other easy to obtain all-natural ingredients. Like oyster shells to form lime. For overly acidic soil, pine noodles composed leaves, or cocoa peat for overly alkaline soil. Balancing correctly does take time. Even months to years. Yu always need to restart to measure progress and sustain a balanced ground. Keep in mind that for whatever plant you are planning to cultivate will have it’s won level of acidity and alkalinity. Every plant varies in its needs. There are two sites to suggest for both soils. For acid-loving plants visit www.coopect.colostate.edu and for alkaline plants go to www.thegardenhelper.com.
Also, know that depending on where you live your local nursery or garden center can test for substances like nitrogen, salts, sulfur, and heavy metals.
Unless your trying to cover an entire backyard or farm, ask the lab to tailor any recommendations for small gardens. Reducing lot measurement and math. Be sure to mention organic soil amendments. Don’t be surprised if they ignore your request and do just the opposite. The results should arrive to you in a few weeks in the form of a chart or graph. If you’re not sure of how to prepare a sample, here are five simple steps. First, rid of mulch and other litter from the surface using a stainless steel trowel (hand0held shovel) or large spoon. Lift a wedge-shaped portion out about 6″ to 8″ deep. Set this aside. Second, scrape 2 to 3 tablespoons from the side keeping roots, twigs, and other matter out of the sample. Third, collect 10 to 15 other samples from other surrounding areas, repeating steps 1 and 2. Fourth, mix all the soil in a stainless steel or plastic container. Fifth, finally, put the soil into a baggie or box provided by the lab for shipment and fill out the paperwork.
So, you get your results back and you need to read everything over. A reading of 7.0 is neutral, higher than that indicates acidity. Having too much alkaline make it tough for plants to absorb the nutrients already in the soil. And what gardens grow best in is neutral to slightly acidic soil. A ph of 6.2 to 7.0. The East tends to be more acidic from rainwater washing away calcium and magnesium. The West is overly alkaline because of too little rainfall, building up elements.
Another great test is a soil breather test. You can determine the soils oxygen level by using a gel that changes color. The more CO2, the healthier the soil. For this test The Solvita Garden Care Kit by Woods End Research Laboratory of Mt. Vernon, Maine. They can also recommend applications of compost that are none-chemical bound. Visit www.solvita.com for more information or call 1-800-451-0337.