The first action that should come in your mind once you start diagnosing a plant problem in your own garden is to go for soil testing.Many problems in lawns and gardens can be easily rectified if the owner knows the condition of the soil.

Fall is an appropriate time of the year to go for soil testing. It becomes even more prudent if adding organic soil amendments that can take longer to become available to plants. A quality soil report serves as a primary tool and the first step for getting any lawn and garden off to a great start as well as maintaining it through the year.

There are two prime responsible factors for healthy plants: Putting the right plant in the right place; and feeding the soil, and letting the soil feed the plants.

Making sure your soil is healthy will provide the conditions and nutrients your plants and lawn need to thrive. A soil test is a simple — but important — step in assessing some of the most basic elements. Consistently amending soil with compost and other organic matter will put you well on your way to ideal soil conditions. The soil testing results would sure be an eye-opening experience and well worth the small investment.

One of the most important measurements in the soil-analysis report is the pH level. The pH is a relative range, from 0 to14, which measures the acidity or alkalinity. A reading below 7.0 indicates acidic soil, while readings above 7.0 are alkaline.

Majority of the plants grow best in a range of 6.0 to 7.0. If the pH level is outside the range of preference for what you are growing, many of the nutrients will be unavailable because the plants will not be able to absorb them.

The soil test will reveal that if the nutrients are there but locked up, bound and inaccessible. On the other side if you have the perfect pH, but lack the appropriate nutrients, your plants will perform below their potential.

getting a soil tests from several sources is possible these days. “Do-it-yourself kits” are also available from the garden center, online or through mail-order sources. However, DIY kits don’t compare in quality or accuracy. The best value and most accurate results come from the soil testing laboratory.

A quality report includes an accurate measurement of the soil pH, as well as the major and minor nutrients. It also provides the suggested amounts and type of nutrients to add to existing soil to bring it into optimal levels for growing the plants or crops you have specified.

Unlike synthetic fertilizers that are readily available and easy to apply at the proper rates, organic options are more diverse, require larger quantities to achieve equal nutrient levels and are not as readily available through most retail garden centers. These factors and others make organic recommendations more challenging. But don’t let that deter you.

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