What I Learned by Having My Garden Soil Tested

Let’s get your hands in the dirt and learn useful stuff to help your pretty little garden thrive. In this scenario, you are actually going to get your hands dirty, as we’re going to discuss the most important aspect of gardening- the soil! 

Soil, as it turns out, is just as significant as any other part of the gardening process. People who have been dabbling in the idea of creating their own garden know this – soil needs to be tested. There is plenty to learn on this subject, and I delved as deeply as possible to uncover the most useful information for you!

Garden soil testing guide

From what I discovered, most people who deal with gardening are not bothered to test the soil for at least the first few seasons (which is a long time). But here is where I beg to differ. Creating a thriving environment requires building it from the ground up, meaning the soil is the first and most relevant thing to look into. As much as water and sunlight are significant factors, the earth is also considered important. Healthy conditions help the plants thrive and grow strong and beautiful.

Learning how to do the testing properly is one of the first things you should do. Take this guide below as an example of how to do it properly and what to look for.

Why garden soil testing?

The gardening soil must provide your plants with a handful of nutrients so they can thrive. If it is any other way, the plants will not have the optimal growing conditions, resulting in wilting stems and leaves. One of the main reasons why soil is being tested is because of the pH levels. If the pH levels in the soil are too high, then the plant will lack most of the nutrients it needs. On the other hand, if the pH level is too low, then this can bring your plants into a state of toxic shock.

Another reason for garden soil testing includes being more independent – not relying on fertilizer all the time. Fertilizers are quite useful for those of you who are only getting started, but it is also good to remember that the plant can also get all the necessary nutrients it needs from the plain soil, too.

How to soil test?

Start by collecting some samples from your garden. This isn’t something difficult process, and you will see that you only need to follow a few steps. Here they are:

  • Strip aside the layer of weeds and grass and push aside any mulch. Then, use a shovel to dig down about 10 cm.
  • Take a sample from the spot and put it in a bucket.
  • Do that from several different points in your garden. This is how you will get a good sample to test.
  • Mix everything up in the bucket, remove the small rocks and roots, and crush the clumps with your hands.
  • Allow the soil to air dry for a few days, and then fill up a plastic zip-lock bag with it.
  • Take the gardening soil for testing at your local soil testing laboratory.

Important notes

Before you get the results, it is important to know what to look for in the soil. There are a few points that need to be on an optimal level. Here’s what you need to look for: 

  • pH levels – pH levels in the soil are tested so you can get information on the soil’s acidity level. This is important because the level of acidity shows the level of nutrients in the soil. That being said, the soil can be neutral, acidic, or alkaline. The ideal soil for most plants is neutral and maybe slightly acidic. Of course, there is always an exception to this rule, depending on the plants you want to grow.
  • Nutrients – what I learned is that whenever you are testing your soil, there are a few main nutrients that “stand out from the crowd”. These nutrients are potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen. All of them have different roles in maintaining the health of the plants.
    • Potassium helps the plant become more resistant to diseases and pests.
    • Phosphorus encourages the growth of the plant and healthy root development.
    • Nitrogen helps with the uptake of water and has an important role in the development of the plant.

Another thing you should keep in mind before your gardening soil test results come back is that there is a slight difference in the soil based on the climate in your area. The results may come back with some elevated or lowered levels, but that might be normal for where you live.

What I learned

After receiving the results from the test, you’ll see that you might not even have to make any tweaks to give your plants optimal thriving conditions. This can only come down to adding a little bit more fertilizer or just ensuring they receive plenty of water and sunlight. Drainage can be another important aspect of the health of the earth. This varies from one plant to the next, so be careful when creating a list of what you plan on growing in your garden and make sure you have the right conditions for it.

Garden soil testing should be something that you do every three to five years. Although autumn is the preferable season to do this, you can collect a soil sample at any time of the year. Doing this before winter comes will give you plenty of time to make the necessary adjustments for spring.

This garden soil testing guide will show you exactly what you need to do to ensure your crops get optimal thriving conditions. I hope you have found this gardening post useful, so feel free to comment in the section below or take a look at the rest of my posts! I cannot wait to hear how your beautiful garden turned out!

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