Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Now is the time to test your soil!

This past Sunday the soil in my vegetable garden had dried out sufficiently to collect a sample for this year's production season. If your garden still has snow covering it, you will need to wait a while longer to collect soil for testing.       
I dug 5 holes around my garden to the depth of 12 inches and collected a slice of soil from the side of each hole.

I placed each slice of soil into a plastic bucket and mixed them together thoroughly. The composite sample I created is what I will be submitting for testing.

Whether you have 100 acres to test or a small garden plot, this is the technique you will use.  The only exception is if your garden or field has different soil types or was managed differently the previous year.  In that case you should submit a composite sample from each area. Testing your soil will provide you a base line of nutrients which you will use to design your fertilizer applications.  Testing once every 3 to 4 years is usually adeqeuate unless you have radically changed the soil management procedure. 

If you want a soil test analysis run on your soil, you can submit a sample through our office. We will need this form (http://www.coopext.colostate.edu/TRA/PLANTS/Submitting_Soil_Samples_for_analysis.pdf) along with your sample(s). I will provide you recommendations on what you need and how the nutrients should be applied based on the crop you plan on growing. Let me know if you are an organic grower and I'll provide you recommendations based on using organic fertilizer products.

Whether you are an organic gardener or use synthetic fertilizers, a soil test will get you on the proper footing and improve the health of your plants and possibly their nutritional quality. Information on organic fertilizer products can be found at http://www.coopext.colostate.edu/TRA/PLANTS/Organic_Fertilizers.pdf.

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