Soil Testing in Carr Garden

1) Methods: The test used was the LaMotte Soil Test Kit.  We then filled a clean test tube to the 4 mL line with PH indicator solution.  After this, we collected three random sub samples in a bed where tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant were grown.  These sub samples of equal volume were collected below the layer of organic matter (about 5 inches deep).  These sub samples were mixed in a bag.  We then scooped approximately three .5 g (volume) samples from the bag and dumped this into the test tube with the solution.  The soil was gently mixed with the solution, then left to sit for 10 minutes.  The color of the solution was compared with the provided color scale corresponding with pH.

Soil testing


2)  Result: We found that the PH is very basic.  The test kit indicated a pH of 8.  These results indicate that our soil PH is higher than optimal.  The elevated pH limits nutrient bio availability.  There are nutrients in the soil, but they are not necessarily available for the plants.  The plants cannot extract the nutrients from the soil (peak nutrient bio availability is 6.5-7 PH).

Soil test tube


3)  Recommendations: We need to lower our soil pH.  You can add pine wood chips or pine needles.  Pine prefers a very acidic soil and they can change the soil PH to fit their needs by shedding their needles. While evergreen tends to be one of the most effective organic materials for lowering soil pH, really any addition of organic matter to soils can help lower pH. Because we have a lot of calcium (limestone) in our soil, it tends to be harder to lower soil PH because of the high buffering capabilities of the parent material. Currently, we are on the right path to lowering the pH with the amount of compost we put into the garden beds, but we could add more.  You can never have too much organic matter.

Shoveling compost