I have been gardening for 40 years, and have tried to do everything in the right way, so it is embarrassing to admit that during all that time I have never done one of the most basic things needed for a successful garden: a soil test.
We are blessed with very rich soil in our garden, so things always did well, but if you is going to go to take all that time and trouble to grow their food, you might as well be a bit scientific about it and check your soil to see if it has everything a plant needs to thrive. For years, we had a soil test kit kicking around, but I never got around to using it, and after all those years it got put away somewhere and was never seen again. This year my wife ordered a new one, and I actually made myself use it.
I felt like a scientist, collecting soil samples, adding water, and then the powdered chemicals that came in little capsules. The kit was all color-coded to make our new kit, both exciting to look at and the results easy to read. In the photo you can see the results we got from the soil in our greenhouse.
The green vial shows our soil PH which seems to be 6.5 (slightly acid) tomatoes like soil that is a bit alkaline, so I am going to add some agricultural lime to the soil.
The pink vial shows Nitrogen and as you can see by the deep reddish-pink color, my soil has plenty of that. The orange vial is for potash, and again the color shows that element to be “Sufficient”. What my soil really lacks is indicated in the blue vial. It shows that the Phosphorus in my greenhouse is depleted. Yikes, that’s not good. Plants need Phosphorus to get the flowers that turn into fruit to grow.
Yesterday after I did the soil test, I dropped into the hardware store and bought some bone meal. That is one way you can add Phosphorus to the soil. I sprinkled some bone meal into each hole before I planted the tomato plant. I also added a bit of agricultural lime to make the soil more alkaline. Hopefully I am going to see more and better tomatoes this year.
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