How to Test Soil for Nutrients

Organic Gardening
Test Soil For Nutrients

Plants need 3 major elements for growth: nitrogen, phosphorus and potash. They need all these elements to grow properly and thrive. Nitrogen stimulates growth, phosphorus is great for better flowers, fruits and seeds, and potash is good for healthy roots, stems and stalks. Potash also counteracts brittle growth and intensifies the color and fragrance of flowers, which is particularly important in summer and fall.

It means that your plants can't grow properly if your soil doesn't contain all these elements. For this reason, soil pH testing is very important. If you notice that some of the important elements are missing from the soil you can add them in the right quantity to provide your plants with all the nutrients they need.

Soil Changes

It's important to know that plants actively absorb these elements from the soil, which means that these nutrients are removed from the soil after a while. It leads to changes in the soil so it doesn't always contain all the nutrients your plants need. Plants are taking food out of the soil and this can happen very fast.

So, how do you know when is the right time to add nutrients to your garden soil? How can you know when to fertilize and what kind of a fertilizer to use? The only way to know is through soil testing.

The Importance of Soil Testing

Soil testing ensures that the soil is well-balanced and therefore suitable for your flowers, vegetables, fruits, evergreens, shrubs, roses and any other plant you wish to grow. It is also needed for a beautiful lawn. Therefore, it's best to know how to test your garden soil properly and how to add appropriate nutrients.

You can easily test the soil all by yourself using a home soil testing kit. These kits are specially made for home gardeners. This is the easiest and most precise way of determining potential fertilizer requirements of the soil. A home soil testing kit will show how much of plant food is needed and exactly what kind of plant food is needed for your soil. Since soil conditions can vary even on a small space, it's possible to test all parts of your garden to determine exactly what kind of a fertilizer each area of your garden needs.

A home soil testing kit will also save you money because you won't waste fertilizer. You won't use the wrong type of a fertilizer when it's not needed or useful. Another advantage to those kits is that they can also test your soil for pH (acidity and alkalinity). You will learn if your soil has just the right pH levels needed to grow particular plants. For example, you may wish to plant lime loving lilacs or clematis vines. Or you may want to plant acid loving plants such as blueberries, azaleas or rhododendrons.

Photo credit: Nick Dawson

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