Right now is an excellent time to conduct a soil test. For more information on how to do an adequate soil test and for directions on submitting soil for testing, you can check with your local County Extension Office or click here for an excellent in-depth article on how to conduct a soil test.
That should take care of the ‘how’ but how about the ‘why’. Fall makes an excellent time to do you soil test for several reasons.
1. You were always on my mind - You know where your garden produced and where it struggled, you can still remember the exact location of brown patchy grass in mid-summer. Those problem areas may have some soil or nutrient based problems. Remembering where they are is a good first step to fixing them.
2. If I only had the time – Now that you are out of the heat and rush of in-season activity this is one chore that is easy to do and gives you an excuse to get your hands in the dirt one last time before winter sets in. This chore is one that is easy to overlook in the rush of planting, fertilizing, composting, harvesting, etc. So now, while you have the time, get a small spade and a bucket and enjoy the brisk fall air.
3. Do it right, Do it once- My dad always told me, “Son, if you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” Honestly, it aggravated me then but it makes sense. Timing is everything and during the early days of fall your soil is in the ideal condition for testing: moisture is adequate, soil temperature is in the ideal range (60-75 degrees F), and pH levels are most likely to be properly reflected. You would hate to base decisions on faulty information, right now your soils are most likely to reveal the truth about itself.
4. Time, pt. 2- Not only do you need time, but your soils need time. If your test indicates any issues that need to be addressed there will still be time to amend those situations and allow the corrections to take place over the next 4-6 mos. before spring arrives. If you wait till spring, by the time you get your tests back you will be wrist deep in planting and may put off the needed corrections. PLUS, your soils won’t have time to incorporate the improvements and make all of the new nutrients available to the plants. So another year goes by with less than ideal results. For example, if your pH is too acidic, adding calcium is easy but it will take your soil a full 18 mos. to fully incorporate it. By starting now, at least some of the calcium can be broken down by spring and start to provide relief. Remember to lower soil pH add calcium; to elevate it, add sulfur.
Soil tests are fairly easy to do and by knowing your soil types and condition you can choose the best plan, and the best plants to grow the garden of your dreams. So, get started today and you will be well on your way to a more beautiful, more vibrant, more productive garden or landscape next spring.
BTW, once you receive your soil test results back, if you have compaction issues, then we recommend Monty’s Liquid Carbon. If you just need a dose of nitrogen then look to Monty’s 4-15-12 or Monty’s 2-15-15 at this time of year.