Good Garden Soil begins with testing your garden soil to find a starting point for your efforts.
Soils differ in infinite varieties of characteristics and composition.
Garden Soil Composition varies with the arrangement of sand, silt, and clay particles, content of organic matter and minerals. Testing garden soil and interpreting soil sample tests are the first steps to discovering what our garden has to offer, or not... So, the first question you might ask is, "How do you test garden soil?"
There are four methods of taking a garden soil test.
- Extension Office Soil Tests -
- Consumer Soil Sample Test Kits -
- Garden Soil Testing Laboratory -
- Garden Soil Test Meter -
soils are broken down into four basic soil types or garden soil definitions.
High sand, rock content. This is the predominant soil type of the south central and desert Southwestern United States.
Average organic matter of 2.5% to 3.5%. Good for your herb garden; Typical of the fertile Midwestern farm belt; rich in humus with good tilth that drains well.
High in organic matter of 4-5% and above. Glacier type soils typical in the North Central United States. Very rich but not very porous, slow drying.
High clay content. Miserable stuff in which to grow anything! Very typical of the fill soil surrounding new home construction. Noted for its very poor ability to absorb and hold water; dries very hard and is difficult to till.
interpreting soil sample tests and insuring your herb garden soil contains recommended nutrients
Most garden supply stores, whether local or online, have for sale inexpensive, safe and easy to use soil tests kits. Typical Soil Test Kits will provide a relatively accurate garden soil profile.
The results from types of soil tests include a summary of the available nutrients represented by the three numbers seen on all fertilizer containers:
(N) Nitrogen- Nitrogen is required by the plant mainly for plant health and foliage growth. Nitrogen is readily leached from the soil by rainfall and watering. Since nitrogen is quickly lost from the soil, depending on your needs, multiple applications per year may be required.
(P) Phosphorus (Phosphate) - Phosphorus gives a rapid and vigorous start to plants, promotes root formation while stimulating flowering and seed formation. It is not subject to heavy loss by leaching from watering or rainfall.
(K) Potassium (Potash) - Potassium produces strong stems and stand-ability while imparting increased vigor and disease resistance. It is also not affected by leaching.
(pH) Soil pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of your soil. Soil with a pH lower than 7.0 is to be an acid soil and one with a pH higher than 7.0 is considered alkaline. Most plants can grow well in soil with a pH of 6.5 to 7.0. A few plants may do better in soil with a pH outside of this range. Consult the articles on each herb for more specific information.
Keep in mind that altering the pH in your herb garden soil takes time. Be patient and don't expect rapid changes. Work steadily towards giving your herb plants the ideal soil in your herb garden, for a bountiful harvest.Soil Testing provides critical information, without which the herb gardener has no starting point from which to treat and enrich the herb garden soil.
Each of our garden suppliers has accurate information regarding organic fertilizer or chemical fertilizers and the advantages or disadvantages of each when used with the various soil types in your area.
Annual Soil Testing, whether Extension Office soil tests or quality soil test kits, are the basis for any successful herb garden or herb growing enterprise.
Find out how simple and easy it is to soil test your herb garden soil!