A great idea: soil testing

When I first started working on the farm I noticed there was a lot of dried and decomposing manure.  I asked around and found out that the previous farmer had amended the soil very liberally with cow manure.   My first thought was, awesome!  I have a lot of nitrogen in my soil which will help my lettuce out immensely.

To be sure what I needed to do soil amendment-wise, I decided to get a quick soil test done.  Four dollars and thirty minutes later I found out some very interesting things.  (Note: If you want a really detailed soil test, you can send samples to your local ag-extension office but they can charge an arm and a leg ($75 plus) for a little vial.  You get what you pay for though.  Details. Details. Details.)

Like I said, this is a very basic indicator of what your soil needs or not. After weighing out a soil and water mixture and letting it settle down….

I was able to get these sweet little colors to pop out.

These are the results.

Surprisingly the pink number, nitrogen, was on the low side.  Perhaps there wasn’t enough manure to go around.  Anyway, the good side to this is I know that I need to up my nitrogen and my potassium (potash for short) and perhaps lower my soils alkalinity a bit to become more neutral or even a bit acidic.

All in all, the great things about testing and experimenting is that you are able to make a more informed decision which will hopefully create a better environment for the plants to grow and thrive in.

Well, Back to The Farm.

Farmer Tuley

About ideadonnafarm

I am the resident farmer for IDEA Public Schools in Donna, Texas. I, along with the students, tend an acre right on the school grounds. The things I grow go straight to the students plate, fresh and healthy. This blog is about the projects, ideas (pun), and all around happenings on the IDEA Donna farm. If you live in the area and want to help out, feel free to email me at justin.tuley@ideapublicschools.org.
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2 Responses to A great idea: soil testing

  1. Beth says:

    I should show your blog at our next 4H meeting. Pictures are always helpful.

  2. Ed says:

    Awesome Post. We just did our first soil test in the garden yesterday.
    Idea for nitrogen amendment is used coffee grounds. The worms love them, its saves landfill space, most places (especially Starbucks) give them away for free, and they are non-chemical.
    Good luck.

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