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because plants grow from the soil up.

Sampling Instructions for Soil pH Tests and more

Plants require a particular pH in order for the roots to effectively absorb nutrition from the soil. You can add all the right fertilizers but if the pH is wrong for the plant, it won’t benefit.

A soil sample should be representative of the area to be tested. First, decide how many distinct areas you want tested. Soil characteristics within a sampling area should be fairly uniform. That is, physical appearance, texture, color, sunlight, slope, drainage and past fertilization history should be similar throughout the area.

Next, using a clean bucket and trowel, take 10 to 12 vertical slices from random spots within the area and mix them well in the bucket. Slices should be as deep as the rooting zone for your particular crop. Avoid sampling very wet or recently fertilized soils. Also, samples should not be obtained from the edge of the field or plot.

Scoop out approximately ONE CUP of soil and spread it on a piece of paper to dry. When the sample is dry, transfer it to a sandwich-sized re-sealable bag. Write a sample name on the outside. A sample name is whatever you wish to call it (i.e., front of lawn, veggie garden, etc.).

Bring this sample to volunteers offering soil testing or test it with any number of home-use pH test kits.

For a more comprehensive analysis, submit your sample to the University of Massachusetts Agricultural Extension department. Here’s a link to their prices and submission guidelines. Soil Testing at UMass Amherst

Your Garden in the Fall

Still-warm soil and relatively cool air temperatures promote healthy root growth in plants that return each year. Check out our Fall gardening tips.

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