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Test your soil to identify and solve PH and nutrient issues

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While you are planting your garden this year, take the time to test your soil to help you to identify issues with pH and nutrients before they affect your plants.

When the soil is too acidic or too alkaline, the plants have difficulty pulling nutrients out of the soil. There are a number of inexpensive soil tests available at garden centers which use clear tubes and color coded amendments to help you test the pH, Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potash levels in your soil. For more detailed results, contact Mecklenburg County Water and Land Resources to request a soil test kit. The results will include information about trace elements present or missing in your soil which could affect plant production.

To test your soil, take a hand trowel full of soil from at least 5 areas in your garden and mix them together in a pail. Follow the directions in the soil test to test for pH and nutrients. (Some tests require that you add water, while others do not.)

Different plants will require different levels of acidity. For example, blueberry bushes like a more acidic soil, while lilac bushes grow better in a more alkaline soil. There are several sources that list the pH needs of different plants. Here are a few to review further for your specific plants:

Old Farmer's Almanac
Wikipedia: Soil pH
West Virginia University: Plant pH Preferences

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