soil testing - Knowledgebase Question

Muskegon, Mi
Question by nancygarlou
May 30, 2009
I am debating planting small raised bed garden or normal. Our soil is very sandy. Will adding manure and peat moss be enough. Where can I test my soil?


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Answer from NGA
May 30, 2009

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You can amend your soil and not have to build a raised bed, unless you'd like to add one as a focal point in your landscape. 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 veggies 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 vegetable garden.

Soil testing is helpful but the addition of organic matter will certainly provide lots of nutrients to the soil and bring the pH into an acceptable range for most veggies. I'd grow a garden first. If your veggies are struggling you can have your soil tested. Hope you have a bountiful harvest!

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