Do you have an area of your yard that is not doing as well as you’d like? Or maybe you’re considering creating a new planting area? Have you tested the soil in your vegetable garden in the past 5 years? Or ever?
A soil test can give you valuable (and sometimes surprising) information. Proper soil nutrients create healthy plants that are better able to fend off diseases and pests without any intervention. Knowing the state of your soil can help prevent the expense of excess fertilization, not to mention the environmental damage that excess fertilizer can cause.
Now is the perfect time to get that soil test. If the soil test indicates that your soil is too acidic, you can apply the lime in the fall so it has time to alter the soil pH over the winter. If your soil is low in organic matter, you may decide to grow a cover crop over the fall and winter.
Any needed fertilizers should be added in the spring before planting.
Soil test kits can be purchased from the Penn State Extension Office in Smeadley Park. Follow the directions for sampling carefully – your test results are only as good as your sample. You will receive a soil report sent directly to your home with all the recommendations for improving your soil. If you have any trouble interpreting your test report, you can always contact the Master Gardener Hort Line for help.
Want more information? Here are some links:
Penn State Extension: Soil Testing Overview
Penn State Extension: Don’t Guess… Soil Test
Penn State Extension: Interpreting Your Soil Test Reports
Penn State Extension: Soil Test Results: “What’s Next?” Guide for Homeowners