We have often heard that the secret to growing great vegetables starts with the soil. Having the proper nutrients readily available and a pH in balance so plants can attain them is imperative for a healthy and productive garden. The pH range for most vegetables to thrive is between 6.0 and 7.0, although they will tolerate a range from 5.0 to 7.5. This pH range is also favorable for earthworms, microbes, and soil organisms to flourish.
|Soil Sample Bags are available|
in the shed
for your convenience!
Soil tests can save you time and money, as they are an excellent tool for identifying deficits as well as extremes in your soil. They also provide a snapshot of the overall balance of nutrient levels enabling you to add only what your soil really needs. For healthy plants to thrive there are 16 essential elements required. Over a dozen of these are in the form of macro and micronutrients coming primarily from the soil. If shortages or excesses are present or a pH is out of balance preventing plants from getting the nutrients they need, problems can and will occur. Plants are much more likely to develop disease and nutritional deficiencies since they lack what is necessary for proper growth and development. Yield and vigor will also undoubtedly be less.
Many often ask how often and when should soil be tested. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture as well as many extension offices across the U.S., these are some general guidelines as a rule of thumb for vegetable gardeners.
- Test before gardening in any new area. The results of a soil test are invaluable for providing an accurate baseline to identify any potential problems that need addressed.
- Conventional home gardeners - usually every couple of years is sufficient for keeping soils in prime condition unless you are experiencing difficulties. If you have done a soil test requiring a correction in soil fertility, special elements, and/or pH, it is also wise to retest the following year to make sure the problem is rectified. As a special note - UGA as well as a few others do recommend testing vegetable gardens on an annual basis for optimum production and soil health.
- Test any time you suspect a nutrient or pH problem.
- Test any time you plan to make a major change in what you are growing in that particular area. An example would be if you are growing vegetables and want to make a change to blueberries, raspberries, etc. These have different pH and fertilization requirements.
- Test at the same time of the year to maintain a comparative analysis of where your soil stands.
http://aesl.ces.uga.edu/ - link to the Agricultural & Environmental Services Laboratories home page with soil testing information and links.
http://aesl.ces.uga.edu/FeeSchedule.pdf - link to the fee schedule for soil testing at UGA's Extension Service. Scroll down to page 12 and beyond.
Denise, Beds 25 & 29