Soil Survey and Test

The sandy soil on my land is perfectly suited to growing palmettos and passion flowers, though NOT much else in the way of fruits and vegetables.  Through searching for a soil survey of my county, I discovered that our area, just south of the Choctawhotchee Bay and North of the Gulf is comprised of undifferentiated quartz sands with varying percentages of silt and clay.  Not much in the way of organic matter.

No surprises here, just the scientific jargon expressing what we already knew, hence the raised garden beds.  In the garden beds, I created what I THOUGHT was some resemblance of actual soil in which one could potentially grow things and amend the soil as needed.  I mixed equal parts top soil, composted cow manure, peat moss and humus.  This might partially explain why my beets and carrots are stunted, and the garlic and potatoes “appear” to be taking off, though that’s really just an illusion.  Who knew?  Obviously, I was mistaken in this whole adventure and will purchase the mushroom compost for future beds.  Here’s the soil test procedure and results from the raised bed taken with my new handy dandy Rapitest kit.

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For the P,K, and N test, collect 1 cup of soil from about 4″ from the surface.

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For the Ph test, collect the soil from same area, mix it up and let it dry (I was way too impatient for all that.)

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Back to the P, K, and N test, mix the 1 cup of soil w/ 5 cups of water and let sit for 30 minutes.

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Back to the Ph test, fill test chamber to fill line with soil.

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Next, throw in the contents of the green capsule, then fill with water, shake, and wait 1 minute.

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The color on my monitor is a bit deceiving.  In reality, the soil Ph was between 5.5 and 6.0, which is fine for most plants.

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Back to the P, K, and N tests, suck the water out of the 1:5 mixture using the eyedropper and taking care not to disturb the sediment.  Fill the test chambers, then empty the contents of each color coded capsule into the test chamber.  Shake and let sit for 10 minutes.

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As you can see, the soil in the raised bed is completely devoid of any nutrients.  Pitiful.  This will take some work to restore.  Good thing I bought a bag of Real Poop and the composter is doing its thing.  In case your wondering if something went wrong with the actual test, it’s possible, though I also tested the already used soil from the Earthboxes.  The Ph was right on 6.0, the K and N were depleted, and the P was sufficient.  So, I’ll need to work on those before anything else gets planted. 

 

 

        

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9 thoughts on “Soil Survey and Test

  1. next time you should go all-out and get the Rapitest 3000! heh. (all those little testing devices most definitly deserve a big number after it!) my condolences on the state of your “soil.”

  2. awww, honey… i know how much energy you have put into those beds and how excited you are! i have this feeling you will figure out how to remedy that situation… good luck and send me some veggies when they’re all done.

  3. I feel you, dog. One thing I can tell you for sure: sand, chicken manure (doesn’t have to be totally composted) and lots of lime all mixed up together make a great medium for growing really tasty tomatoes, if you like them tart. Not sure where to get chicken poo around here anymore though….used to be we filled the pickup for $5 a load anytime, at tihs little hcicken operatino near South Bay on 98. Long gone.

    Well until I get my own gardening groove on, you can have all the bokashi compost you want. We probably fill up a bucket every coupla weeks or so. I haven’t yet experimented with it, but they say putting a layer of it on top of your gravel, under your soil (or mushroom compost) in containers makes for very healthy, vigorous plants. I think you set up your container and let it sit a couple of weeks before actually planting. The bokashi has all manner of beneficial microorganisms–sorta like acidophilus for plants.

    Speaking of probiotics, I’m starting a new batch of homemade kraut this weekend, and have a fresh kombucha starter on order. Always have plenty of those to share too 😉

  4. Thanks Communitarian. I’ve got a bag of chicken poop I purchased from heirlooms seeds and a small amount of compost that is ready, so I’ll be ammending whenever possible as new things go in. I think my potatoes froze a bit even though I had them covered. Anyhow, with the mention of Kraut I’m beginning to wonder if you are a Weston A. Price Foundation follower. I just found out about this at PC, two of the students were big fans and sharing their thoughts with the group. It makes a lot of sense to me.

  5. birdygirl~
    That actually did cross my mind as I was doing the PH test, as well as the alum. pot I used for P,K, & N. In a couple of weeks I’ll give it another whirl and be sure to use glass or ceramic containers. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

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