the importance of soil testing
alot of people are posting about dirt and adding manure so I thought I'd share a link about the importance of the soil test. You can buy a kit at any decent nursery or garden center OR you can send a sample out to your local ag station for a minimal fee (which is what I recommend). You'll have to tell them WHAT you're growing (tomatos, eggplant, rhodies, evergreens, lawn.. you get the picture)/. Ideally you'd work your soil in the fall AND the spring to get a healthy balance. A soil test is a process by which elements (phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, sulfur, manganese, copper and zinc) are chemically removed from the soil and measured for their "plant available" content within the sample. The quantity of available nutrients in the sample determines the amount of fertilizer that is recommended. A soil test also measures soil pH, humic matter and exchangeable acidity. These analyses indicate whether lime is needed and, if so, how much to apply. sometimes just dumping manure and/or fertilizer isn't the way to go. ETA: Adding compost is a good thing but it won't necessarily fulfill the soil pH and nutrient needs of the plants you're growing. If you just want to add compost, fine, no problem, but it may not give you the optimal conditions for your garden. I thought this was pretty clear but decided to put this addendum in for clarification. just throwing this out there. PS : IF YOU DON'T WANT TO DO A SOIL TEST AND ARE NOT INTERESTED OR NOT HAVING PROBLEMS WITH YOUR GARDEN, DON'T GET ONE. it's not a REQUIREMENT to grow vegetables or fruit or anything else for that matter... but it is a useful tool. For some of us with not so great soil it's critical and I PERSONALLY would enourage people to get their soil tested before they spend alot of time and energy in their garden.