Taking a Soil Test in your Landscape

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- This is going to be my yearly pitch to not forget to take those soil samples in your landscape. Actually, you should be taking soil samples every other year.

The purpose of taking soil samples is simple. You and I can't determine what the soil contains as to valuable nutrients for most plants to grow by. You can't just look at a soil and say it needs this or that. Guessing what's in your soil is nothing more than a crap shoot. You have spent countless hours in your landscape and to rely on a guess as to what your soil contains is just taking a chance.

The only way you can ever know what your soil holds in the way of plant nutrients is to take a soil test. Actually, you are getting a little late, but not too late to take a sample of your soil when you get close to the new year.

The reasoning for taking it during the winter months is simple. All your plants have taken up what ever they are going to take up and what nutrients remain won't be utilized until spring. Thus, you have a base line soil test if taken now.

A second reason for taking a soil sample now is that if lime is needed, which corrects the soil acidity, it needs to be applied as soon as possible. It's not too late to lime. It's never too late to lime. However, there is a best time to lime and that's around November through December.

There are a few things to consider when taking a soil sample. Use a clean bucket to collect the soil. Put at least nine soil samples in the bucket in the area you want tested and take a representative one sample from the bucket for the sample you are sending off for testing. Try and stay away from the edges of your vegetable or flower garden or your lawn for that matter. There is a good chance that the edges of your landscape will have non-representative amounts of soil nutrients.

Contact your County Extension Office when you want to take a soil test. They have the actual sample packets and not only that, they have the information for you to take a soil test correctly.

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