Soil Testing - Knowledgebase Question

Akron, Oh
Question by tvendeland
March 21, 2010
I just moved into a house and I want to start a vegetable garden. I heard that there is a kit that I can buy to test the soil to see how much acidity it contains so that I can purchase the correct fertilizer. What is the name of this test? Will it tell me what kind of fertilizer or soil I need to add to make a good vegetable garden? Where can I buy this test kit?


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Answer from NGA
March 21, 2010

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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 but won't offer suggestions for improving your soil or changing the pH. Most vegetables 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 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. Hope you have a bountiful harvest!

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