Soil Test Your Vegetable Garden for Efficient Planting

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You should have a soil test of your vegetable garden’s soil. Maybe you bought a new home, or maybe you are changing the location of your garden to another spot in your yard. Maybe you’ve never ever had the soil tested even though you’ve been gardening in the same spot for years and years and are suddenly curious about what’s beneath you. Whatever your circumstance, the situation calls to be on the safe side and say yes to the test.


Why Test?

I can give you five great reasons to test your garden’s soil, whether it’s a flower garden or a vegetable garden. The first three help you be a better parent to the plants you are responsible for:

  • Nutrients: A soil test tells you information about your soil’s nutrient levels, as well as gives you recommendations on how to adjust those levels with additional amendments such as fertilizer.
  • Acidity: The soil’s acidity can impact how your plants take up certain nutrients. If you need to adjust the acidity to make more nutrients available to the plants, the soil test can help determine what and how much.
  • Save some money: Hey, maybe the test will come back and indicate that your nutrient levels are within acceptable levels. You know what that means? It means you don’t have to buy fertilizers and amendments, and that means you save yourself some money. Or, you now have more money to spend on plants.

The next two reasons for having your soil tested are a matter of good stewardship, and if you ask me, these are the most important reasons for doing the procedure:

  • Protect your surroundings: If you have sufficient nutrition already in your soil, the excess could wash away and pollute nearby bodies of water. Testing can tell you if you can cut back on all the nutrients.
  • Toxin detection: Soils can contain dangerous levels of heavy metals. Your plants may be taking those elements up and storing them in their tissues. This is especially critical and hazardous to your own health when those heavy metals accumulate in vegetables that you will eat.


When and Who?

Soil tests give you information about soil nutrition, so are most useful to you, the gardener, as you begin your growing season. Take your soil samples first thing in the growing season or, better yet, at the end of the previous season when your soil testing lab isn’t swamped with samples.

As for who does the soil test, the appropriate department at your state’s land-grant university is the first place I’d contact to find out about soil testing. In addition to the university labs, you may have commercial soil testing services near you. Look online for your best options.

Meet Ellen Wells

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