backerayla
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Posts: 8
Joined: Fri Mar 09, 2012 1:42 am
Location: Northwestern Oregon

soil testing

I want to get my soil tested so I know how much compost I need to be adding to it every season and how much gympsum and lime I should be adding annually. I am not sure if my garden soil is acidic, basic, or neutral and I'm not sure how to find out any other way than soil testing. I have heard from nurseries that Western Oregon soil tends to be somewhat basic and clay-y. I recently have read somewhere that I need to know what the PH and macronutrient ratio of my soil because I could be damaging it by simply adding random amounts of lime or gypsum every year. Could I just use a litmus strip? I also don't know where to go or who to contact to get my soil tested. I have read that universities often do it, but I haven't been able to find any info on that on their sites here in Oregon. When I search on Google, all that comes up are DEQ soil testing agencies for people that are removing things like oil tanks and septic tanks. Any advice?

backerayla
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Posts: 8
Joined: Fri Mar 09, 2012 1:42 am
Location: Northwestern Oregon

...

Also, I was wondering if anyone thought I should use more gypsum, lime, or compost this year. I am working with about a 14x20 ft. plot. Last year was my first year and I added 8 bags of black gold compost (fully decomposed), about 2 cups of lime and about 1/5th of a 5 gallon bucket of gypsum. My soil I think is rather full of clay. My garden didn't do too well last year, but I think that's mostly a combo of solid rain until August almost and because I got in in a bit late. I also fertilized with Dr. Earth. I made a tea and added about 1/2 to each hole made for planting as well as adding about 3 cups of solid Dr earth to the whole garden plot before we tilled it all in. Too much? Not enough? More this year? Once my garden is planted, how much of the fertilizer tea should I be adding?

Dillbert
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Joined: Sun Apr 04, 2010 7:29 pm
Location: Central PA

yes, you should have the soil tested before just adding this or that and the other thing based on some nebulous "folk lore recommendation"

here's a list for the options in OR - I'd go with the State Ag - they are normally the least expensive but given the time of the year "faster" might be a consideration.

https://smallfarms.oregonstate.edu/soil-testing

gumbo2176
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Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2010 6:01 am
Location: New Orleans

I firmly believe you can't really do harm adding as much compost as you want. I mean, my compost pile is sometimes full of volunteer plants from tomatoes, okra, peppers, cucumbers, etc, that get thrown in it from time to time. They are some of the healthiest plants in my garden-----until I need compost.

Before adding most anything else, test the soil and, as mentioned, the state agricultural agency does a fine job of that. I wouldn't put much trust in those soil test kits sold OTC in the big box stores like Lowe's or Home Depot. I used one of those once and did 2 different soil tests a couple days apart and got varying results. I do have a PH meter that I find to be very consistent and use it.

My soil was very heavy with clay when I first tilled my garden many years ago. I get at least 3-4 truckloads of stable waste a year, 40-50 garbage bags of leaves, all the lawn clippings, garden waste and all organic matter from my kitchen and use that to make compost that is added to the soil. My garden soil is now as good as its ever been and only getting better with each passing season.

Good luck with the garden this season.

backerayla
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Posts: 8
Joined: Fri Mar 09, 2012 1:42 am
Location: Northwestern Oregon

leaves

If I tossed some of my fall leaves over my garden for mulch in the fall, could I just till them in the next spring? Or will the leach too much nitrogen from the soil because they aren't fully broken down?

gumbo2176
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Posts: 3065
Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2010 6:01 am
Location: New Orleans

Re: leaves

backerayla wrote:If I tossed some of my fall leaves over my garden for mulch in the fall, could I just till them in the next spring? Or will the leach too much nitrogen from the soil because they aren't fully broken down?
I pretty much do this all the time. I'll take cardboard and lay it between my rows, wet it down a bit to help it conform to the shape between my rows and then cover it with a layer of leaves---mainly oak leaves. I did this very thing to a couple rows this morning and will finish the task tomorrow after getting more cardboard boxes from the store.

By the time I need to rework my soil by summer's end, the leaves and cardboard will be well broken down and ready to be turned under.

j3707
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Posts: 306
Joined: Mon Jul 13, 2009 2:11 am
Location: Pacific Northwest, Zone 8, 48" annual rainfall, dry summers.

Hey backerayla - Soils west of the Cascades are generally acidic. Here is a ball-park estimate for lime application:
"Vegetable gardeners do need to add lime to their soils because these pH levels are seldom naturally present in the maritime Northwest. The exact amount of lime to add depends on the pH of the soil. A rough estimate for a garden that hasn't been previously limed would be: per 100 square feet of garden: sandy soil, 4 pounds every 2 years; loamy soil, 6 pounds every 2 years; clay soil, 8 pounds every 3 years. Dolomite lime is most often used because it supplies magnesium as well as calcium. Add it in late fall after crops are harvested to prepare soil for planting the following spring.
[url]https://gardening.wsu.edu/column/11-15-98.htm[/url]




I'm in a similar boat...this is my first year getting a lab test. Check out the University of Massachusetts, their Standard Test beats anything I could find locally. Just sent my soil in a couple days ago.

[url]https://www.umass.edu/soiltest/list_of_services.htm[/url]




And if you haven't yet, read "Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades" by Steve Solomon.

Best of luck!
Avoid predictable disaster caused by unpredictable events, keep yourself open to positive outcomes from improbable events. -Aaron C. Brown

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