Get Your Soil Tested Now
When spring arrives we usually start thinking of fertilizing the lawn and landscape. What research has shown us though, is that we don’t always need to add nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. The only way to know what really needs to be added is to have the soil tested. If you have never tested your soil, or you haven’t tested it in a few years, now is great time to send in a soil sample (or two) and find out what fertilizer analysis your plants really need.
The University of Florida has an Extension Soil Testing Laboratory that tests for P (Phosphorus), K (Potassium), Ca (Calcium) and Mg (Magnesium) plus the soil pH and each soil sample costs $7 to test. Recent research on established lawns has shown that after the repeated use of a complete fertilizer (one that contains N-P-K) the P (Phosphorus) level is high or very high so that no additional phosphorus is needed for a few years or so. Many soil tests are also showing K (Potassium) to be in high quantities in the soil so that additional fertilizer may not be needed for this nutrient either.
You may be wondering what the big deal is if you fertilize when the levels are already high and here are a few things to consider. Since phosphorus and potassium aren’t mobile in the soil, they can accumulate in the soil. Excess amounts of phosphorus and potassium can also tie up minor elements in the soil, thereby causing deficiencies.
The soil testing form can be found at this website http://soilslab.ifas.ufl.edu/ESTL_files/SS18700.pdf and printed or just give us a call at 633-1702 and we will send you an Extension Soil Testing Laboratory form. The form describes how to take a sample and where to mail it. It is also very important to fill in the crop code on the form. On the forms second page there are seven crop codes for lawn grasses and five different crop codes for Landscape Plants and Vegetable Gardens. Simply place your soil in brown lunch bags or plastic bags and be sure to write your name, address and crop code on the outside of each sample bag in permanent ink.
So, now is the time to test your soil so you can fertilize smart this spring!