HAYESVILLE, N.C. — The foundation to successful gardening is healthy soil. The first step to healthy soil is having your soil tested. Soil testing takes very little time and has many benefits, such as saving money, healthier plants, and a better environment for other living things. The biggest question I get from folks is what will soil testing tell me about the soil I have? Well, one of the most important things that a soil test will measure is the pH of the soil. Soil pH is how acidic or basic that your soil is.
Soil pH levels in North Carolina can range from 3.5 (very acidic) to 8.0 (Basic) or even higher. Most of your vegetables, fruits, turf, and ornamental plants prefer a pH of around 5.5 – 6.5. While acidic loving plants such as blueberries, azaleas, and mountain laurel prefer a pH around 5.0 – 5.5. When your soil is too acidic you will need to apply lime to raise the soil pH. Many people apply lime unnecessarily, which can raise soil pH too high, resulting in poor plant growth. The soil test report also provides information on the nutrients that are needed for your individual plants to grow at optimal performance.
North Carolina is one of the few states to offer soil testing to residents at no direct cost for the majority of the year. With this is mind we will send soil samples off at no charge from April 1 until November 15, 2020. If you are interested in testing your soil this year stop by the N.C. Cooperative Extension of Clay County office at 25 Riverside Circle, Suite 2, Hayesville, NC to pick up soil boxes. If you would like more information on soil sampling contact Craig Wininger (N.C. Cooperative Extension, Clay County Center Agriculture Agent) at 828-389-6305.
—Craig Wininger, Clay County Center