Plump tomatoes, sweet peas and hot peppers yield more and taste better when grown in healthy soil. Understanding the makeup of your soil from the ground up is the key to a healthy foundation for your vegetable garden.
Soil tests are the best way to find out what’s going on under your plants, including the levels of pH, calcium, lime, gypsum and potassium.
Basic DIY soil test kits are an inexpensive and easy way to determine if your soil is missing vital nutrients. Or for a fee, County Extension Services will test your soil for you. Either way, you’ll learn what you need to add to your vegetable garden now for a healthier harvest next spring.
How to Test Vegetable Garden Soil:
- Gather 3-5 samples from different parts of your garden, each from 4″-6” below the surface.
- Remove any plants, roots or debris from your samples.
- Thoroughly mix your samples to ensure you have enough soil to test. The kit will specify how much you need.
- Spread soil over newspaper and allow to dry for at least 24 hours.
- Follow the instructions listed on your soil test kit or send dry sample to the County Extension.
- Add amendments as prescribed by the soil test. Soil testing is the only way to know the pH of your garden soil. The ideal pH for vegetable garden soils is 6-6.5. To increase acidity, add sulfur. To reduce acidity, add lime.