To collect soil for testing is a great way to learn the dynamics of your garden.
In my previous post I discussed the reasons why soil testing is beneficial. Today’s post will focus on how to collect your soil sample.
I used to think it was a simple process. Ya know, dig up some soil, place it in a mason jar and haul it to your county extension office to be tested. Turns out it’s not quite that easy. It’s not difficult, but more of a process than ever I realized.
As I gathered information on how to do this I learned a couple of things. First, you don’t take a sample from just one spot in your garden. The composition of soil differs from place to place so it’s important to collect soil from all areas of your garden to gain a comprehensive look. Especially if you have a fairly large plot.
Our county extension office recommended drawing out the garden plot (which is a challenge for me to say the least). Then to number each point we collect soil from. Indicate on the drawing what types of grass and natural elements surround the garden.
Here’s my drawing.
You can see we have a fairly small plot compared to most homesteaders, but we are planning to grow it more in 2018. You’ll see I indicated the size of each block is equivalent to 2 feet. The drawing is drawn to scale. I’ve labeled where our shed is (as it provides some shade) and the rocky bed creek that runs along the south side of our property. I also indicated the type of grass we have. Arkansas weed grass. I’m sure the guys at the extension office will know what that is!
As you collect soil from each spot indicated be sure you scrape away any mulch and dig to a depth of 4-6 inches. Place the sample in a small brown paper bag. Once all 14 samples are taken you’ll want to mix the soil thoroughly discarding any rocks and foreign debris.
Next, spread out a table with newspaper on it, and place small piles of the soil along the newspaper to naturally dry. Once it is dry collect one pint of soil to turn into your county extension office. They often provide the container so check with them ahead of time.
They send it to the lab and will let you know when your soil results are in.
Do you collect soil this way or have a different method?