How To Take A Good Soil Sample

The basis of any healthy vegetable garden is good soil. If the nutrients are not in the soil, they won’t be in your vegetables . For this reason, you need to determine the nutrients and type of soil in your garden before planting your vegetables. The only way to know what exactly is inside those garden granules is through testing.  Soil testing provides the key to having the most nutritious vegetables.

Soil Testing Basics

Your basic soil test will give you the pH (how well suited your soil is to grow plants), and the Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium (NPK) of your soil.

You need more than this.  That’s like telling you how much calcium, vitamin C and iron you have in your food.  You know you need a lot more than that for a truly healthy diet.  So do your plants and vegetables.

Still it’s important to know these numbers.

Your average soil test will show you how much N-P-K is in your soil. The results are usually labeled as very low, low, medium or high.

Why You Need These Minerals

Nitrogen (N) exists in many different forms including nitrites. Good levels of nitrogen in soil boost the green growth of plans. Nitrogen also encourages lush leafy growth, branching and bushiness.

Phosphorus (P) encourages root growth. A healthy root system is the basis for a healthy plant. With a strong root base, plants are less susceptible to wind damage. They are also more drought resistant and can handle an overabundance of water.

Potassium (K) provides the boost for flower production. This nutrient is also responsible for encouraging plants to flower, produce fruits and flourish.

These are the only three elements  commercial growers check for and most fertilizers add.  Using these you can get vegetables that look good.

But you won’t get the most healthful and nutritious vegetables.  Do you think you only need 3 vitamins and minerals?  No.

The trace minerals that a good soil test shows, tells you what you need to put in the soil to get optimum nutrition from the vegetables you grow.

But don’t count on the soil test companies to know the optimum amounts needed for your vegetables.  They will tell you if the minerals are high or low.  You want to have the optimum amount for your nutritious vegetables.

The first step to finding out what you need to add and in what quantity is a good soil sample.

Soil tests are only as accurate as the sample collected. For best results, follow the directions below.

How to Take a Good soil Sample for a Vegetable Garden

1. Survey your garden, vegetable plot or the flower beds. Choose 12 different locations around your garden to collect the samples from.

2. Put on some clean gloves. Cross-contamination is the greatest enemy to many soil tests. Your tools should also be clean and make sure you don’t touch the soil with your own bare hands, as this can contaminate the samples.

3. For each of the twelve samples, dig down eight inches into soil using a shovel. Get a nice scoop, 1- 2 cups of the soil. Place the soil in a clean bucket. Place all the 12 samples into one clean bucket. With your gloves still on , use the tools to mix your soil samples together.

4. Lay out clean thick layer of paper-towels in a dry, dirt-free workplace, like your garage. Spread out about 2 cups of the soil mixture onto your towels. Let your soil air dry over-night.

5. Using clean gloves, put one cup of soil in a clean zip-lock bag‘. Label this bag with your full name, phone number and address. Give the soil a name; vegetable beds, flower garden or any other suitable name.

6. Complete the necessary paper work and send the soil sample to a reliable lab. Make sure the lab checks for all the trace elements.

7.  When you get your results come back here and use our mineral calculator to determine what you need to add and how to get your most nutritious soil.

References:

http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/how-get-accurate-soil-test

http://www.finegardening.com/video-how-start-vegetable-garden-testing-your-soil

http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/soils/soil-testing

http://msucares.com/lawn/garden/vegetables/soil/ph.html

How To Choose A Garden Spot

Step one for the most nutritious garden is the spot.  It needs enough sun,  to be close enough that you can work in it easily and  to have good soil and drainage.

1. Sun: You need at least 6 hours of sun every day for growing a productive and nutritious garden. So, choose a space wide or narrow where the sunlight comes in abundance, not one which is rarely sunny.

2. Space:To choose the space, there are two criteria. First whether the sun comes on that spot and second, how much you want to produce in the season. You want to grow for all of your family members or simply just for a hobby you want to have your garden?! This is the critical part. Choose according to your needs. Once you choose the space, outline or mark the space so that you can recognize it later.

3. Soil: Soil is important. If you have a choice after choosing the sunny space, choose loamier soil. Otherwise, you can choose any soil. Because soil can be improved later.

4. Drainage: is Another most important factor in where you choose to grow it. If it is in a low spot or waterlogged, the plants will not grow. You need some sort of elevated place to set up the garden. Otherwise, the plants will drown. What works  according to experts are the spots which have a south facing slope. If you don’t have such a slope, you need to make sure that the water is not standing anywhere. Take care of the drainage system beforehand  the right amount of water is very important for growing plants.

5. Convenience: Make sure that the place you choose for gardening is convenient. . Your garden needs care, every day. If the location you have chosen is far away from your home and you need to walk a long way to work on it, chances are  gardening will not be as rewarding as it could be.  Make sure it is nearby you don’t need  extra  work.

6. Avoid toxic areas: Having said that about convenience, you also need to make sure that your garden is not in a  toxic area. Toxic area simply means where destructive chemicals or waste from a factory can leach into the soil or water. Avoid such places. Prevention is always better than cure.

 

References:

1. http://www.curbly.com/users/green-couch-design/posts/13695-how-to-choose-the-best-spot-for-your-garden

2. http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/vgen/choose-the-location-of-a-vegetable-garden.htm

3. http://www.garden.org/howtos/index.php?q=show&id=1316