Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Gardening 101 - Soil Testing

This subject may seem very rudimentary- however we get so many questions about soil conditions and even more gardening problems that could have been avoided with a simple soil test. So here we go - Why should you test your soil? Plants need food (nutrients)for health growth. Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potash (N, P and K for short), play a vital role in plant growth just as vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and protein do in our health. N Nitrogen is synonymous with plant nutrition. It is directly responsible for producing leaf growth and green leaves. A deficiency causes yellow leaves and stunted growth. Too much nitrogen causes over-abundant foliage with delayed flowering; the plant becomes subject to disease and its fruit is of poor quality. P Growing plants need phosphorous. It is the major constituent of plant genetics and seed development. A deficiency causes stunted growth and seed sterility. Phosphorous aids plant maturity, increases the seed yield, increases fruit development, increases vitamin content and aids the plant's resistance to disease and winterkill. K Potash strengthens the plant. It helps form carbohydrates and promotes protein synthesis. It will improve the color and flavor of fruit. It further aids early growth, stem strength and cold hardiness. Plants deficient in potash are usually stunted and have poorly developed root systems. Leaves are spotted, curled and appear dried out at the edges. Yields for potash deficiency are low. pH Plants also need to correct pH (acidity / alkalinity) level, which controls how well plants utilize the nutrients available in your soil. All plants have a pH preference, so it is important to know the pH level of your soil. You can then choose plants with the same pH preference, avoid those that will not do well in your soil or know how to go about supplying their special growing needs. By testing your soil, you determine its exact condition so that you can fertilize and/or adjust pH more accurately, effectively, and economically.

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