PLYMOUTH, N.C. (WNCT) – With spring just around the corner, one of the first things you should do to help your lawn and garden doesn’t involve any planting. Testing your soil now can help you know what fertilizer you’ll need. Soil test kits are available at your county extension office. Once you have your kit, you’ll want to dig down to about 6 inches deep in several spots around your garden.
Carl Crozier, a soil science specialist at North Carolina State University’s Vernon G. James Research & Extension Center explains the process: ”Take a series of samples, either with a tube or a shovel to that depth, put them all in a bucket and mix it thoroughly.”
Once that’s done, just pack it up in the box provided and mail it to the state testing lab in Raleigh. With all the wet weather recently, you’ll want to make sure the soil is dry enough before you box it up and send it off.
”If it’s too wet and then it’s real muddy, it’s hard to get a mix and then the box gets soggy and it’s hard for the lab to handle it as well,” says Crozier.
You should get your results back from the lab in just a few weeks. They’ll include details on what fertilizer you need and if you need to adjust the pH. Experts suggest you have your soil tested at least once every 3 years and add in any nutrients that you need. The benefits may surprise you.
Jacob Searcy, regional agronomist with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services explains: ”They see problems in their garden and they think it may be a pesticide or something else but a lot of times it’s just as simple as applying the right amount of fertilizer down at the right time. Too much can be bad and too little can also be bad.
A beautiful lawn and garden this spring and summer starts with healthy soil now. It’s important to include what you plan to plant on the form with your soil sample and send a sample for each different type you’ll plant. Different plants require different amounts of 3 key nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.
Soil testing costs $4 per sample from just after Thanksgiving Day through March 31 but is provided free of charge to North Carolina residents from April through Thanksgiving Day.
Click here to find you county extension office.