Prepping Your Soil to maximize the utilization of available nutrients and encourage a high yield of produce is one of the most important steps you can take in your food production process.
Why Test Soil pH anyway?
Testing for correct soil pH is important for many reasons. But, the #1 reason is that pH is the vehicle that helps move nutrients into your plants. So without correct pH:
- Your plants can’t utilize nutrients fully
- You waste a bunch of money on fertilizer if your pH is off.
A pH test measures soil acidity or alkalinity. A pH 7.0 is considered neutral. An acid soil has a pH value below 7.0. Above pH 7.0 the soil is alkaline.
Please note that the pH scale has a wider increase in acidity or alkalinity than you would think. It moves in increments of times ten. A pH reading of 4 is ten times more acidic than a pH reading of 5, and one hundred times more acidic than a pH reading of 6.
So, if you think a pH reading of 5 is close enough when your plants need a pH of 6 guess again.
How to Test Soil pH
- Decide where you will test.
- Use a small shovel and a clean bucket.
- Collect 5-10 random soil samples from this lawn or garden area. Depending on the size of the area. Each of these samples should be about 1/2 cup.
- Remove a shovel full of soil (3-7 inches deep).
- Do not include roots or other plant material in the sample.
- Mix the samples together. If the soil is wet, spread it on paper and allow to air dry overnight before filling the sample bag. Allow the soil sample to dry naturally.
- Place roughly 1 cup of the well-mixed soil inside in the Soil Test box and close.
I want to test 4 areas of the homestead.
- 2 pastures – I will take 10 samples because this is a larger area.
- The garden area – I will only take 5 samples because the garden is not that big.
- And the food plot we are putting in to help with our deer harvest next year – I will take 5 samples.
I mark and label each box before I fill them. It is a lot easier to write on the box before you put the soil in it. Then I fill the boxes and drop them off at the extension office.
When to Test Soil pH
You can test your soil at anytime. Remember it does take 6 months to take action unless you are using a fast-acting lime.
We are testing our soil in January with plans to add amendments as soon as we get the results back. We would like to spread the lime on the fields when they are frozen or at least not wet. It can take lime 6-12 months to affect the ph in the soil.
How to Get That Lime Spread?
If you have a large area to treat and you don’t have the equipment check with:
- A neighbor who has the equipment and know-how. See if you can pay or do a trade for them to spread it.
- Local Farmers Co-op’s sell and spread lime and fertilizers.
- Check with local feedstores.
Prepping your soil and taking care of it now will help you have a productive garden. Helping to ensure your food production stays on track.
Thanks for Reading!