Happy vegetables start with healthy soil. But it takes more than just a look to tell what condition your soil is in.
Whether starting a new garden or tending an old one, you need to learn as much as you can about your soil by testing it. Knowing what your soil needs now and amending it will help you grow your best edibles next year.
A simple soil test will reveal deficiencies or excesses in your soil as well as the pH level.
How to Test your Soil:
- Start in one corner of the garden and dig a hole 4 to 6 inches deep.
- Continue to take slices from a few different spots around your garden so each area is represented.
- You can test your soil yourself or send it off to your local extension service. They’ll test it for a fee.
- If using an electronic soil test kit that comes with a meter attached to probes, stick the probes into the loose soil and jot down the readings. Follow the kit instructions for use.
- If using a chemical soil test kit that comes with vials and powdered chemicals, follow the kit directions to mix the chemicals. Compare your results to the chart in the kit.
- Avoid any areas that would skew your results, such as really dry soil or areas next to a building.
- Amend the soil according to the results of your soil test. Ask a Garden Center associate for help.
- If needed, top off with organic compost.
Don’t forget about Raised Beds:
If you used raised beds last year, check them now. Test the soil. Tighten loose screws and repair broken corners. Add more soil or organic compost and any amendments indicated by a soil test.