|Your newsletter says to take a soil test but does not offer any information on how to do that...
|There are several brands of do it yourself test kits available at Home Depot. Rapidtest is one brand, LaMotte is another. All these kits will give you an accurate pH reading if you follow the directions. Most vegetables and perennials will be happy in a soil that registers 6.0 to 6.5 on the pH scale. To get this nearly neutral pH you can simply amend the soil with organic matter and use a complete fertilizer such as a 10-10-10. You can enrich your soil over a period of years and end up with rich garden loam if you add organic matter. Start this spring by removing all vegetation from the area and spreading 4-5 inches of organic matter over the vegetable bed. You can use compost, aged manure (fresh manure can be too hot and might contain weed seeds), shredded leaves or whatever organic matter is readily available in your local area. Dig or till this organic matter into the soil - 8-10 inches deep. Plant your seeds or transplants and mulch over the bare soil between the plants with additional organic matter. A 2-3 inch layer will help suppress weeds and slow water evaporation. At the end of the season dig the organic matter into the soil and add a fresh layer. Repeat this process annually and you'll end up with rich garden loam - and a spectacular garden.|