The days are beginning to get longer and the weather in Georgia has been a little tricky. One day it’s warm and the next day you need your heavy coat. Warm days are causing gardeners to become anxious at getting ready to get out and work in their gardens. Now is the time to start preparing your soil to get it conditioned for your spring vegetable garden. After the garden layout has been established, the next thing you’ll need to do is have your soil tested. This is a test that not a lot of people are aware of or know what it is.
Plants require specific nutrients just the same as people do in order to thrive and produce vigorously. Your local Cooperative Extension Office will submit your soil sample to be tested for its pH level which is the soils acidity. Georgia clay soil is naturally acidic and most plants do not like a very acid soil unless they are blueberries or azalea plants. There are three key nutrients in the soil that a plant needs and they are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Nitrogen aids in the plant growth, phosphorus promotes strong root development and potassium is the regulator of plants. It promotes overall growth and it helps the plant use water and resist drought.
In order to collect your soil sample you should take a representative sample from at least two to three areas in your garden space. You’ll want to dig up the soil about six to eight inches deep from each area. Next, you’ll combine the soil from the areas that you collected and fill up a sandwich sized storage bag. You can take this sample to your local county Cooperative Extension Office and they will submit the sample for you for a small fee. The fee is usually around six to eight dollars and your test will be returned to you in about seven to fourteen days.
Once you have received your test results, it will tell you what nutrients your soil has and what it is lacking for the particular area you tested. It will also give you the correct fertilizer type that needs to be applied to the soil such as 10-10-10 or 5-10-15. Keep in mind that those three numbers are percentages of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, (NPK).
Once you receive your soil analysis report, you should follow the recommendations accordingly so that your garden will receive all of the nutrients that it needs in order to thrive and produce.