Are you only having mediocre results with your Fruit, vegetable garden, flowers or shrubs? If so, chances
are you need to have your soil tested so you know exactly what is needed to properly grow your plants.
There are several different ways in which you can have your soil tested. One is to use a do-it-yourself home soil test kit. Soil testing services are also provided by the Washington State University Cooperative Extension Service, or by private laboratories. Both the private laboratories and the Cooperative Extension Service charge a small fee for soil testing. The actual fee depends upon the extent of the soil tests. Forms and information for the Washington State University Cooperative Extension Services are available through your local county extension service. You will find them listed in the white pages of your telephone directory under county government. Depending upon the season, it will take from one to three weeks for results.
If you want to test your own soil, you can easily do it with a soil test kit. Most garden outlets feature soil test kits, such as the one sold by Sudbury Laboratory of Sudbury, Massachusetts.
A good soil test is essential because it lets you know the specific nutrient needs of your garden so you do not waste money on the wrong fertilizers. The soil test will also let you know whether you need to raise or lower the pH of your soil. Careful soil testing and correction of the soil to the specific needs of your garden assures that each crop gets exactly what it needs to grow and yield to its fullest potential.
Here is why it is necessary that you know the soil pH, the nitrogen, phosphorus and potash content in your soil.
pH - Soil pH is the factor which determines whether or not plants are able to consume nutrients. If the pH is too high or too low, nutrients in the soil "lock up", become unabsorbable by the plants, thus fertilizer not only goes to waste, but your plants literally starve to death.
NITROGEN - Adequate nitrogen produces luxuriant growth of stalks, stems, leaves, and grasses. Excessive nitrogen causes too rapid growth that results in softness of tissue and general plant weakness. Plants suffering from nitrogen deficiency are more susceptible to disease, infection, and injury. Plants given too much nitrogen resume active vegetable ("green") growth which retards flower and seed formation.
PHOSPHORUS - Phosphorus gives plants a rapid start, stimulates root formation, hastens maturation, aids blooming and seed formation.
POTASH (POTASSIUM) - Proper amounts of potash stimulate early root or tuber formation which is essential for all underground vegetables and tuberous flowers. Excessive potash reduces a plant's resistance to droughts and frost injury and delays plant maturity.
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