Advice & Guidelines on Soil Testing

Growing plants that are bountiful starts with knowledge of your soil type. Just as you load up on just anything on the shelves and wouldn’t go to the pharmacy with a cold, or visit the doctor and ask for a few pills, any pills, planning and assessing are essential to making good ground. Plant requirements vary, but all soils want basic components, including potassium, phosphorous and nitrogen, along with trace minerals. On the other hand, the amount of each of these elements could differ from the demands of your neighbor’s dirt. Most plants also benefit from a significant amount of organic matter in the dirt. The San Francisco Bay region is made up of soil types. The very best advice is test when it comes to preparing your soil for planting.

Soil Tests

Test analysis is best left to the specialists at a lab. Many kits are available, but results could be unreliable, and they’re restricted at best. The University of California Cooperative Extension Program serves each of the nine counties of the San Francisco Bay Region. Your local extension office can provide you with a soil test kit and advice in completing your soil test, along with directions on returning the soil sample to the cooperative extension office or mailing the sample.

Soil Sampling Guidelines

To true soil is currently carrying soil samples that are fantastic. Avoid contamination of the sample by using hands spade, bulb digger or a steel soil probe. Digging instruments made of galvanized steel, copper or other material with mineral content may render residue that is enough in the sample to skew test results. Dig straight down to a depth of 6 inches and then eliminate a core of dirt. Place this sample in a clean bucket. Take three to six samples from the same region and mix the samples together. Finish a test kit for each region as the needs of different soils may fluctuate, if you’ve got more than one type of dirt like areas of sandy land alongside areas of sandy clay. Follow the instructions and finish the paperwork.

Time Frame

Allow eight weeks for return of your soil sample analysis. Perhaps it doesn’t take this long, but it’s ideal to plan ahead and allow plenty of time for those results to return to you until your desired planting time. Take samples when the soil is not too wet, as samples need to dry out before they are examined.

Soil Evaluation Results

Your soil test results provide a measure of acidity or alkalinity of your ground information on your soil’s pH level, and recommendations for treatment to you to bring the soil to the desired pH level for your plant needs. Evaluation results provide information on phosphorous, potassium and other nutrients necessary to grow the kinds of plants you indicated on your soil test submission.

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