February 2020
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Cultivating  502

Jefferson County Soil and Water Conservation District

“Always include local nature - the land, the water, the air, the native creatures - within the membership of the community.”
— Wendell Berry, Conserving Communities, 1995

Soil Tests Available Free to All Residents

Test Your Soil Now and Unlock the Mystery Behind Your Soil's Nutrients
"To many people, soil is pretty common and meaningless. Some call it "dirt." But for those who understand it, soil is a marvel - a living space that harbors vibrant life within it and supports all life above it. In fact, without soil, there would be no "us."

In return, the soils that support our lives cannot be taken for granted; they must be nurtured. Healthy soils support healthy environments, and healthy environments support healthy life. A growing urban society means fewer of us come into daily contact with the living soil and those working lands that produce food and fiber, clean water, clean air, wildlife, and scenic vistas." ~ excerpt from The Living Soil by Neil Simpson.

I love that this excerpt is listed as the intro to the instructions the Jefferson County Extension Service provides on how to take a soil sample. It reminds us how foundational soil is to the health and wellbeing of humans and our gardens. Until you start testing your soil nutrients, you are missing a key tool in the garden success toolbox!

Soil nutrient testing should be done annually from your lawn and your garden or farm. Every growing season, plants, including grass, pull nutrients out of the soil in order to grow, bloom or produce fruit. If these nutrients are not replenished, the next year's plants will suffer. Most farmers and gardeners understand this process. But how do you know how much fertilizer or compost to add to your soil each year to create the right balance for your plants? Testing your soil!

If you baked a cake for the very first time, a recipe and ingredient list would be key for the cake to taste good and have the right texture. Without these, the cake could be too sweet or too salty, too dense, or burn in the oven. It is the same for our soils. Without knowing how much nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium, etc. exist in your soil you can add too much or too little fertilizer. This can cause your plants to have issues like stunted growth, lots of green leaves but no blossoms or fruit, or to die. It can also cause excess fertilizer to run off your lawn or garden during the next rainstorm and enter our waterways. 

Now is the perfect time to test your soil nutrients before you plant your garden for the year. The Jefferson County Soil and Water District provides up to 2 soil vouchers so you can test your soil for free! Visit our website to fill out our online form and we will email you vouchers and instructions on taking your sample. Then take your samples to the Jefferson County Extension Office for testing. It's that simple!
Check out what is happening this month and get involved!
Copyright © 2020 Jefferson County Soil and Water Conservation District, All rights reserved.

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