There’s still time to get your soil samples to the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services before Thanksgiving and take advantage of free testing. Samples received after November 23, 2017 through March 31, 2018—the peak soil testing season—are charged an analysis fee of $4 per sample.
Get soil test kits at the Extension office
Soil test boxes, sample information forms, and instructions are available at the Buncombe County Cooperative Extension office, 49 Mount Carmel Road, Asheville.
Taking the sample
The instruction sheet, A Guide to Soil Sampling—A Soil Test Is Only as Good as the Soil Sample Taken!, explains how to take your sample. Using a clean, stainless steel or chrome-plated trowel, dig about 6 inches deep in 4 or 5 spots in the testing area. Place the soil samples in a clean plastic bucket or bowl and mix well. If the soil is wet, wait for it to dry out before mixing. Fill the soil test box to the fill line and label the box.
Where to sample
Take several soil samples from different areas of your yard and use a separate box for each sample. Suggested sample areas include: lawn, vegetable garden, flowerbeds, landscape trees and shrubs, roses, azaleas, rhododendrons, blueberries, and other fruits and berries.
Complete the sample information form and mail
Complete an information form for 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 also need to provide an email address for your results.
Place the information form on top of your soil test boxes in a cardboard box and mail to the address listed on the form. It is helpful to keep a record to remind yourself of where you took each sample.
After the lab has tested the soil samples, you will receive a test report with recommendations for fertilizer and pH amendment. During the winter it takes about two months to receive your test results.
A Gardener’s Guide to Soil Testing at http://content.ces.ncsu.edu/a-gardeners-guide-to-soil-testing.pdf
Article written by Beth Leonard, Extension Master GardenerSM Volunteer.