Because we're new to this house...
And because the previous owners put in a quick sod lawn with unknown treatment history just before listing the property,
And because our house was built in 1939 and is likely loaded with lead paint,
And because we want to give our plants the best balance of nutrition....
High on our to-do list is to have our soil tested for pH, heavy metals, and nutrient balance. It was pretty easy. First, we identified 3 distinct areas to test--the "orchard" area on the side of the house, the prospective veggie garden in back, and a spot behind the porch just for the heck of it.
We dug 12 small divots into each of the 3 areas, removing soil from various depths - near-surface down to about 6 inches. The number of spots plus the different depths will get us the best overall picture of each area.
In each zone, we mixed the 12 samples in a paper bag, then ripped open the bag to let the dirt dry in the sun.
Once dry, it was into a labeled zip-top baggie with one cup of each sample. The baggies were then packed into a box with a completed form and check ($9 per test), and mailed out to the UMass Soil and Plant Tissue Testing Laboratory.
If you aren't sure where to send soil samples in your area, take note--you can send samples to UMass' lab from anywhere in the country!
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