Although soil tests are a must for new gardens, there are good gardeners who have their soil tested regularly and equally good gardeners who have never had it done. If your plants don't seem to be growing as well as they should or you suspect your soil's pH is out of the best range for vegetables (6.5 to 7.0), testing your soil will help you adjust nutrient levels and pH. On the other hand, if everything seems to be growing well, and it doesn't bother you that you don't know your exact pH, don't worry too much about it. If you do decide to have your soil tested, follow the directions for collecting the sample carefully. Also, ask for organic recommendations for correcting nutrient deficiencies. Many local Cooperative Extension Service offices provide soil-testing services. Contact your local office to find out where to pick up a kit. They are sometimes available through the office itself but also may be available at the local library. Commercial soil-testing labs are another excellent option. Finally, you can also purchase a home soil-test kit to test for pH as well as nutrient levels.Reprinted from The Veggie Gardener's Answer Book Copyright 2008 by Barbara W. Ellis, with permission from Storey Publishing. Creative Commons photo credit: Terriem
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