Thursday, September 6, 2012

testing your soil

I mentioned earlier this week that I have been working hard on getting my fall plants in the ground and since we already had a garden site, all I had to do to prepare was test the soil. If you saw this post you know how important it is to test your soil before you plant. It would be a shame to spend all this money on lovely veggies to grow and not have the soil to sustain them! I wanted to show you how simple it is to test your own soil.

We found this test kit at all our garden stores and home improvement stores so I am very confident you will be able to find one too. Once you get the kit and head back home they have step by step instructions for how to test your soil and it takes less than 20 minutes!

We were pleased to find that our ph was perfect but our soil was low in Nitrogen and Phosphorous. What does that mean anyway? Like always, I did some research. I found mixed reviews on the best way to up those levels. We have always leaned toward naturally supplementing our garden so we were glad to find we didn't necessarily need to run to Lowe's and spend money on fertilizers.

What do you need to know about fertilizers?

If you have done a garden before you have most likely seen all the bags of fertilizers with giant numbers on them. Those numbers stand for Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potash (Potassium) or N-P-K. These nutrients help plant foliage to grow strong, helps roots and flowers grow and develop and help with overall plant health. The problem with too much fertilizers is that they can help with fast growth but produce potentially weaker plants in the long run.  

There are many theories out there that believe that these three nutrients aren't the only components that matter in a garden. A study done at the University of Texas found that other elements such as carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, sulfur, magnesium, copper, cobalt, sodium, boron, molybdenum, and zinc are just as important to plant development as N-P-K. 

What else can I do?

After my research I was glad to discover that sometimes compost and aerating is all your garden needs. If you properly aerate the soil, earthworms and other beneficial microbes underneath your garden and lawn will have better access to the oxygen they need to thrive. As they live and digest organic matter, they will help create soil that is healthy and fertile and healthy soil is the basis for healthy plants. After reading this I realized it was definitely time to start our worm farm.

If you are squeamish around worms, compost is another great way to add nutrients to your garden. Compost actually contains Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium and other trace elements that will benefit your plants. The best thing about compost is its free! If you don't know how to compost, check out this post from earlier this fall. 

sources: clean air gardening, university of texas press

1 comment:

  1. After reading this post, it seems I had a dream Will and I got a nice garden for our birthdays (in a yard we don't have...) and the FIRST THING I wanted to do was test the soil. Your knowledge is seeping in my dreams...