April Is a Good Time to Test Your Soil

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With this spring weather, many people are getting outside and wanting to garden, landscape, etc. As a way to help homeowners in Burke County we offer Soil Sampling kits year round. However, samples submitted between April 1 and the end of November are analyzed free of charge. North Carolina is one of the few states to offer soil testing at no direct cost to its residents most of the year because of funding derived from a statewide fee on commercial fertilizer. A soil test can save you time and money in your lawn, garden and landscape;  can result in healthier plants by telling you which nutrients are already in your soil and which you need to add; and can protect water quality by preventing unnecessary fertilizer applications.

Gardens need nutrients to grow and produce crops just as turf grass needs these same nutrients to maintain a green and vigorous lawn. Naturally occurring nutrients are also present in the soil that plants can draw from to meet these needs but in order to do that the pH of the soil must be within acceptable parameters. You can apply all of the fertilizer in the world but if the pH is too high or too low, the plant can’t access the fertilizer.

How do you find out what the soil pH is? A simple soil test will do the trick. It’s quick, easy to do and its free (April-November). Come by the Extension office, located at 130 Ammons Drive in Morganton, and pick up a soil test kit. Following the enclosed instructions, you will fill the box with soil, complete the analysis form, and mail the sample to the soil testing lab in Raleigh. In about 2 weeks, you will receive your test results by email or online.

Agents at the Extension office are available to help interpret your results if needed. These results will give the gardener exact recommendations of how much lime and fertilizer is needed for his particular site.