Testing – 6 Tips to Test Soil and Prep Your Garden Bed Now

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Difficulty: Beginner
Duration: 2 hours

 

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Happy flowers start with healthy soil and a well-made garden bed. A soil test kit tells you if your garden needs nutrients, like potash, nitrogen, and phosphorus, or if the soil is too acidic or alkaline and the pH needs to be amended.

Most flowers need a pH of 6 to 7. If your soil is too acidic, add lime. If it’s too alkaline, add garden sulfur. The test will tell you which one to use, and how much. Mix the amendments into your soil to ready your garden bed for a busy spring.

HOW TO TEST YOUR SOIL:

  • An electronic soil test kit is the easiest. It comes with a meter attached to probes. Dig 4-6” deep in a few different spots around your garden. Then stick the probes into the loose soil and jot down the readings. The kit will tell you how to use them.
  • Chemical soil test kits come with vials and powdered chemicals. Follow the kit directions to mix the chemicals. Then compare your results to a chart in the kit. It will tell you how to use them. 

HOW TO READY YOUR GARDEN BED:

IMPORTANT: Before you dig a new bed, call your utility company; they’ll come out for free to mark where electrical, gas or water lines are.

Beginner Method: Till or dig your bed 8” deep.

  1. Choose a garden spot and remove roots, rocks, grass, and weeds from your bed.
  2. Use a spade, shovel or tiller to dig or turn the soil 8” deep.
  3. Spread at least 2-4” of compost over the soil. If this is a new bed or the soil really needs improvement, mix about half as much organic matter with native soil. 
  4. Add any amendments indicated by your soil test. Mix the compost and amendments into the soil.
  5. Rake the bed level.
  6. Plant after the soil is reliably warm. Optional: Top the bed with more compost.

READYING YOUR RAISED BEDS:

If you used raised beds last year, check them now. Tighten loose screws and repair broken parts. If needed, top them off with more soil, compost and any amendments indicated by a soil test.

PRODUCT CHECKLIST:

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