It's about time to get your hands dirty! If you are interested in learning more about testing the soil in your garden plot or would like to help others test their soil and learn what amendments could help your garden flourish this year, reach out to Mr. Beez and he will help you test or provide some sage advice.
Here is a little of what what you can learn about your soil by using a test kit (more information is provided on the card included with the test kit).
Nitrogen. Needed to promote leaf growth and green leaves. A N deficiency causes yellow leaves and stunted growth. Too much N causes overabundant foliage, smaller flowers and delayed flowering, poorer disease resistance and poor-quality fruit. Nitrogen deficiency can be corrected by adding compost or composted manure, planting N-fixing cover crops or plants like legumes and beans, adding coffee grounds or fish emulsion, mulching with grass clippings or using an organic fertilizer. Need to use caution as too much N will burn the plants.
Phosphorus. Phosphorus is needed for better seed yield, root growth and flower/fruit development. A deficiency of P causes stunted growth and seed sterility, abnormal dark discoloration in the leaves and delayed flower and fruit development. Phosphorus deficiency can be corrected by adding bone meal, organic compost, composted manure, organic fertilizer.
Potassium. Potash (K) strengthens plants, improves color and flavor of the fruit, aids early growth, better stem strength, cold hardiness and disease control. K deficiency causes stunted growth, poorly developed root systems, spotted, curled and dried edges on leaves and generally lower crop yields. Potassium deficiency can be corrected by adding kelp meal, granite meal, green sand or organic fertilizer.
pH. Plants need a correct pH to aid in nutrient absorption. Most plants like a pH in the range of 5.5-7.0, but different plants have different pH preferences within that range. There is a plant pH preference list packed with the test kits for specific pH ranges by plant type. To increase the pH (less acidic) you can add compounds made from powdered limestone (lime), available as pulverized, hydrated, granules or pellets. Also wood ashes. To decrease pH add sulfur or aluminum sulfate.
Mr Beez, tested his soil last year and look what happened!