Soil Testing

Getting ready to test the garden soil.

Getting ready to test the garden soil.

I have never tested the soil in my garden. It is something I have wanted to do and never got around to, but I was placing an order for some geek stuff to American Science and Surplus and saw this test kit in the catalog and ordered it.

It’s a nice kit and has enough materials for ten soil tests for pH, nitrogen, phosphorus and potash. The pH test was easy, just mix a small soil sample with a capsule of the pH test chemical and water, wait a minute or two for the sediment to settle and compare the colors to get a readout. I tested five different beds in the garden and they all had a neutral pH of 7 which is ideal. So far, so good.

The tests for the other nutrients were a little more complicated. I needed to mix one cup of soil with 5 cups of water and shake well. Then it needed to settle for a couple of hours. Then I used an eyedropper to add the cleared water to each of the test containers, added a capsule of the appropriate test chemical to each, waited ten minutes, and compared the colors to the windows on the test container.

I only tested two areas of the garden. One sample was from the garden area next to the compost pile and the other from the bed next to the fire pit. The results were nearly identical for both samples. Phosphorus was more than adequate at both, the potash was adequate at both, a little higher in the raised bed by the fire pit, and nitrogen was zero, nada, at both locations with maybe just a trace in the bed by the fire pit.

I guessed the nitrogen would be low, but I didn’t think it would be that low. So, I need to add nitrogen before I plant tomorrow. I’ll also add some mushroom compost to build up the soil.

Home Depot should have some high-nitrogen fertilizer, so it’s off to there tomorrow before I head to Goebbert’s and try to get some romaine lettuce plants and the rest of the herbs that they didn’t have when they opened earlier this week.