3 Reasons You Should Have Your Soil Tested Before Planting A Vegetable Garden In Your Yard

Posted on: 21 December 2021

Growing a vegetable garden is a fun hobby that can be done on a very small plot of land, and it's very inexpensive if you're using your own soil to do it rather than topsoil that you've bought from a nursery. If you're planning on using the natural soil in your yard, however, it's important to have it tested before you start planting your garden. A soil testing service will measure the composition of your soil to check its ability to support healthy vegetable growth, and they'll tell you how to amend the soil if it's deficient. To learn three reasons why testing your soil before planting a vegetable garden is a good idea, read on.

1. You'll Know Exactly Which Fertilizer to Add and How Much You Should Use

For vegetable gardening, the most important component of a soil test is the mineral composition of the soil. Minerals important for plant health include potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, and calcium. A soil testing service will measure the mineral content of your soil, letting you know if it's deficient in any nutrients that your vegetables need to grow.

Soil testing services will also recommend how much fertilizer to add in order to add minerals to your soil, and they'll also tailor it to what you're trying to grow in your vegetable garden. When you send in your soil samples, you should also make sure you tell the soil testing service what vegetables you plan on growing. Potatoes, for example, need a considerable amount of phosphorous in the soil. You'll receive a recommendation of the exact combination of minerals to add to the soil in order to make sure all your vegetables are thriving.

2. You'll Change Soil pH to Make It Perfect for Vegetable Gardening

When you send your samples to a soil testing service, they'll measure the pH. This number refers to how acidic or alkaline your soil is. A pH under 7 means you have acidic soil, and a pH over 7 means you have alkaline soil. Most vegetables grown in gardens prefer soil that's slightly acidic since that makes it easier for their roots to take up nutrients. This results in higher yields and hardier plants that are less likely to succumb to pests and disease.

Knowing your soil pH is important because it allows you to start taking steps to correct it. Tilling sulfur into the soil will make it more acidic, and tilling lime into the soil will make it more alkaline. However, this process takes quite a while — it can take years to significantly change soil pH since you can only add a small amount of lime or sulfur at a time. Knowing the soil pH of your vegetable garden allows you to start changing it immediately, which means it won't take as much time until you're able to grow your vegetables under perfect soil conditions.

3. You'll Find Out if There Are Toxic Contaminants in the Soil

Since you'll be eating the crops from your vegetable garden, it's important to test the soil where they're growing for harmful contaminants. Harmful contaminants include lead, arsenic, and aluminum, and these can be taken up into the vegetables you're growing. They normally don't harm plant growth, but they can certainly be hazardous to human health. It's a good idea to have your soil tested for these contaminants before you grow anything you're planning to eat.

You'll most likely have to pay extra for these tests since they're not typically included as part of a normal soil test. However, making sure that the soil you're growing your vegetable garden in is free from toxins will help protect your health.

Overall, testing the quality of your soil before you start a vegetable garden will let you know exactly what you need to do in order to make it the perfect soil for growing vegetables, and it will also protect your health by detecting any toxic contaminants in it. Before you start planting your vegetable garden, contact a soil testing service in your area and send them a few samples from the area where you're planning to put your garden. You'll have an easier time growing them when you add the correct nutrients and start changing the pH of the soil.