For better planting, soil test now

From Mike Skipper Winston County Extension Coordinator

I can think of nothing more important for a successful gardening experience than soil testing and right now is the perfect time to complete this task.

There are several nutrients that are essential for plant growth and production. A soil test is used to determine the amount of those nutrients within the soil. In addition to indicating the level of nutrients in your soil, the report will also tell you the pH value or how acidic or basic your soil is, and it will then be used to generate the report to make recommendations for the amount and type of fertilizer and/or lime you need to add to the soil for optimum plant growth. This then allows you to match your soil fertilizer and lime applications to your plant’s needs.

Following the recommendations will help prevent problems with nutrient deficiencies (under fertilization) or problems associated with over-fertilization such as excessive vegetative growth, delayed maturity, salt burn and wasted money. In addition, it can protect against any environmental hazards resulting from the overuse of fertilizer applications.

Soil sample boxes and instructions are available through the Winston County Extension office, located at 460 Vance Street. Samples are currently $6.00 a sample and are analyzed through the MSU Soil Testing Lab.

Whether you are sampling your garden, lawn, landscape area or other areas, make sure to collect a good composite sample. Identify the area in which you want to sample then using a garden trowel, spade or shovel, pull a sample to a depth of 6 inches from a number of different spots and place in a clean bucket. Once 10-12 cores have been pulled from your given area mix them all together and fill your soil sample box completely full. If you do not have soil sample boxes with you, then bring into the office a minimum of 2 cups of soil for your sample. Once the soil sample has been brought into the office, staff members will assist you in filling out the appropriate paperwork. Within seven to fourteen days a copy of your soil analysis will be mailed directly to you. The Winston County Extension office will receive a copy as well. If you have questions regarding your results, then simply give me a call to discuss your report. If I can be of any assistance to you, please feel free to call Mike Skipper at 773-3091.