Friday, February 20, 2009

Soil Testing

Picked up a set of soil test kits at Lowes a few weeks ago, tonight I finally got around to testing my garden soil...

pH: 6.8-7 ( good)
potassium : low
Nitrogen: Low ( boo)
Phosphorus: very high

eh, I wasnt expecting miracles from it, its Middle Miocene Modelo Shale, so around 12-15 million years old. No I'm not making this up. I can walk up to the cut sides in the hill, pull out rocks that have been untouched for millions of years, crack/peel the layers apart and if I'm lucky find a fossil fish. Usually theres just tiny leaves, what looks like ashes/burnt grass, and the occasional fish scale. Tomorrow I'll go poke around if I have time and see if I can find something cool to show you.

Being a geology brat gives me a better understanding/appreciation for this sort of stuff, almost enough to go finish my degree in geology.


but not quite.


ChristyACB said...

Now that is cool. Hope you find something wonderful!

SuburbanGardener said...

Cindy, I love your yard and respect your knowledge. Perhaps you know the answer to my avocado question on my blog. If you could advise I would appreciate it. Probably a no-brainer for you, but I am a little stumped with all of the buds. TIA. Paul

Ed Bruske said...

I wouldn't put all your trust in a store-bought soil test kit. Have your soil professionally tested. Is there a university lab in your area? Check with your local extension agent. And know this about testing for nitrogen: most labs don't do it because nitrogen is such volatile thing. If your soil has not been farmed but has just been sitting idle under sod or weeds,it's likely you have more nitrogen than you need. Organic nitrogen is always in a state of ebb and flow depending on the level of microbial activity in your soil and the organic matter they have to work with. If you intend on growing produce organically, you need to be testing first and foremost for the level of organic matter in your soil, and a good lab will do that as part of its routine assay.

Cindy said...

alas there is no state testing lab anymore, no county in the southern part of this state do tests anymore actually, and all my emails asking for the address of a professinal lab go answered. Not sure why. Most of them just old me to buy a standard testing kit and use that. grrr.

this soil has almost organic matter whatsoever, other then the 3 inches on top of that grass growing. I am stll debating how best to work with it, amend it, lasagna bed it, double dig it, or just do raised beds with mels mix.

SuburbanGardener said...

Thanks for your advice. :)

Sinfonian said...

Cynthia, any of those would work, but if you do raised beds (if you're doing tons of beds, this may be the way to go for ease), don't spend the money on pure Mel's Mix. Get a diverse compost and add to it as you find money.

Sorry about the poor soil, maybe do a test bed with amending the soil. I don't think you have time to lasagna it, that takes time to compost down.

Take care and good luck!