Get your dig on!

So January is a great month to test your soil.  Why…cause there is nothing better to do in the garden during January, HA.  No, it is because you want to have time to submit your soil sample, receive your recommendations and put them in action to prepare you soil for the major spring and summer growing seasons.

Why test…do yourself a favor. Don’t try to guess what your soil needs, find out.  It is inexpensive (practically FREE, just shipping cost) and will save you a lot of headaches.  I can almost guarantee you that your soil sucks.  Mine is full of that bright orange Carolina clay.  More than likely, you will need to create some raised beds and replace that clunky, no good, poor draining clay. Another post perhaps….

I am going to test my soil, so you should do it too. Here is how to do it:

Before you start:

1. Go to your local cooperative extension office to pick up soil sample boxes (never thought I would use extension services..but here I am).

2. Be sure the soil is not frozen or too wet (how do you know it is not too wet…if you wouldn’t till it cause all the is too wet).

3. Get a shovel (wash is off, don’t want any lingering contaminants). Yeah, Yeah…they talk about the fancy core tools..who needs it…in the words of one my favorite TV chefs, Alton Brown–“go for the multi-tasker.”

4. Download and print the soil sample forms you will need.

5. If you want to read more in-depth, feel free to check out Extension Sampling page…WARNING: lots of PDFs you have to download and wade through lots of information and revolving links…not the most user-friendly site, but comprehensive for sure.

Start Collecting:

1. Collect 6-8 samples in places you want to plant. Samples should be 4-6 inches deep.

2. Put each sample in a Cooperative Extension provided sample box and label with permanent marker (this helps you remember where each comes from and how to apply the recommendations).

3. Put all samples in a sturdy cardboard shipping box.  Fill out forms. Click here to get bar code shipping labels to track and send to testing center.

Wait about a week or so and you should get access to the report with some recommendations on fertilizer, etc ..I am checking the box about online access to my report.

Stay tuned for a follow up post with my report and to do list following to prep my soil.  Spring in only a couple of months away.  Oohh…I can’t wait…

Share your sampling success by leaving a comment below!

Happy Gardening!