As a timely reminder that the Peak Season Fee for soil testing goes into effect from December 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017, the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has introduced a new form for submitting your soil samples. To avoid paying the $4 per sample fee, ship your samples to arrive before Thanksgiving, or you’ll have to wait until April for free testing.
New form for gardeners
Replacing the current “one-form-fits-all,” the new form, Lawn and Garden Soil Sample Information—NC Soil Only, is for gardeners, not farmers. We no longer run the risk of getting a recommendation for “tons per acre” of lime or fertilizer for a row of beans!
First, the sample!
The form includes an explanation entitled A Guide to Soil Sampling—A Soil Test Is Only as Good as the Soil Sample Taken! The advice recommends using a clean, ungalvanized tool and a plastic bucket. (A galvanized tool or bucket may affect zinc levels.) For lawns and other untilled areas, like a planted flowerbed, sample soil to a 4-inch depth. For a tilled vegetable bed, take a slice to a 6-inch depth. Soil that is too wet to mix well is too wet to sample. Wait for it to dry out.
What areas of your yard to sample?
The new form offers Lawn and Gardening Planting Codes that include the following categories:
- Flower Garden
- Vegetable Garden
- Landscape Tree
- Azalea / Camelia
- Mountain Laurel / Rhododendron
- Berries / Fruits / Nuts (except blueberries)
- Lawn (not centipede), unless you have a lawn of Centipede grass for which there’s a separate code!
The form provides space for you to identify each soil sample, note any lime applications you’ve made in the last 12 months, and indicate the Lawn and Garden Planting Code for the area sampled. You’ll need to provide an email address for your results. Also requested, but not required, is the PALS (Public Access Laboratory-information-management System) number from past soil testing, if you have one.
You can print your own copies of the new form, but you’ll still have to pick up soil sample boxes at the Extension office or at Extension Master Gardener Volunteer events. Write your address and sample information on the boxes before you assemble them. Then fill each box to the red line with your soil sample. No plastic bags or tape are allowed.
You can stop by the Extension office to pick up the new forms and sample boxes, and to get further help if you need it. You can still use the old forms, if you have them. There’s also a phone number for the soils lab, 919-733-2655, which is answered promptly, politely, and in a helpful tone.
Article written by Glenn Palmer, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer.
Click here to download the new form,
Lawn & Garden Soil Sample Information, Form AD-15, Sept. 2016,
or go to http://www.buncombemastergardener.org/resources/ and select Soil Test Submission Forms.