| Weekly Gardening Tip : Soil Testing
Yes, you should get a test, at least once. Find a lab in your part of the country, and print out their instructions. Here is a link to instructions for collecting your soil sample from Peaceful Valley Farm and Garden Supply:
I don’t know which lab they use. Back when I was farming, I used A&L Western Labs, and that may be the company they use. You can also check with your state agricultural extension office. I would recommend the more complete soil test, which through Peaceful Valley costs about $50.
A complete test, with recommendations and the graph is going to tell you about soil pH, major nutrients (N,P,K) and micronutrients. The cation exchange capacity and the levels of sulfur and magnesium can be important, both for soil texture issues (as in, how to loosen a tight clay soil with gypsum), and for improving the taste and nutritional value of your crop.
Sure, adding compost is great, but you might need some rock phosphate, or some limestone (for acid soils) or some gypsum (for alkaline soils) Perhaps your boron is too low, or too high. You can only know this from a professional soil test.
A separate question, is what kind of soil to use for starting seeds in flats. Don’t just get a potting mix without nutrients. The plants will run out of nutrients and turn yellow. But if this happens, don’t do something stupid like adding some bat guano. I did this once and burned up 72 tomato starts in a seedling tray.
You are growing food for your health, among other reasons. Nutrient dense foods are the result of planting in balanced soil. Not deficient, and not excessive soil nutrients.
More to come next week…..
Owner & Operator
Valley Oak Tool Co.