Know your soil
To maximize your garden’s potential, you must know your soil. By connecting with your soil before you plant, you’ll give your plants a healthier start to take them through to harvest.
Nutrient levels, pH, soil structure, drainage, and plant type can all affect your garden’s yields. It takes just a bit of science to see your soil like your plants sees your soil. By the time your plants tell you that they need something they’re already stressed.
A sample of your soil will help you correct problems before you plant. Then GreenTree can work with you to assess your garden and explore what measures you can take to improve your soil’s ability to support better plants.
How to take a soil sample
- Look at your land. Does it slope? Do plants grow differently in one area than another? If the land you’ll be planting isn’t consistent, divide it into zones – for instance, uphill versus downhill. You’ll want to analyze soil from each zone separately.
- Here’s where you can get scientific. (Or make it easy: Dig a few inches into your soil with a trowel. Collect about a cup of soil from a handful of spots across your garden, mix the samples together in a bucket, and proceed to step 3.)
Mark a soil auger to a depth of 6 inches with tape (GreenTree can lend you an auger).
Walk across your planting zone in a W, sampling at the points and mid-way points of the W to collect 9-10 samples. If soil texture changes across a field, divide it into two or more sampling areas.
At each spot, take a soil sample to 6-inch depth. If you run into rocks or other obstructions, find another nearby sample position. Use a rubber mallet if getting the auger into the soil is difficult. For grass fields, part the grass to expose soil surface. Once the auger is inserted, give it a half turn and remove. Use a screwdriver or gouge to trim the sample along the semi-cylinder and scrape the sample into a bucket. Collect all samples from a zone into one bucket. Aim for a total weight of a pound of soil per zone.
Take about 1 cup of soil from the bucket and put it into a soil sample box from GreenTree or labeled bags.Taking multiple samples, mixing them, and sub-sampling from that helps control for variation in land and sampling techniques.
Drop the sample off at GreenTree, and we'll take it to the lab for you. Results usually come back in about a week, and we can help you interpret the results and make recommendations about how to make your soil better.