WESTFIELD-Each year master gardeners from the Western Massachusetts Master Gardener Association provide area residents with a unique service – soil pH testing – at the Westfield Farmers’ Market.
This season’s testing will be offered June 14 from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the market on the grounds of the Episcopal Church of the Atonement.
“Our soils vary from one yard to the next,” said master gardener Judith Harvester. “For some yards, lime needs to be added every few years to keep plants healthy. The only accurate way to know if your lawn or garden needs lime is to have the soil tested.”
Harvester noted that if residents applied lime in the fall to their yard it is now time to check it for the new growing season.
“You can collect from your lawn, vegetable garden, perennial flower garden, under trees or shrubs but keep each collection separate,” said Harvester.
Harvester outlined the steps to collect a soil sample:
- With a trowel remove a plug of soil from the surface down to the proper depth. Sample depths are: 3 to 4 inches for lawns; 6 to 8 inches for flower or vegetable gardens, 10 to 12 inches for trees or shrubs.
- Collect samples from several spots in the sampling area. If the area is small, collect 4 to 6 samples, for large areas, collect 8 to 12 samples.
- Place the soil in a bucket and mix it all together. Remove twigs and other coarse materials.
- Place approximately one cup into a ziplock bag.
- If the soil is damp, leave the bag open to let it dry out. Close the bag just before bringing it to the market for testing.
- Label each sample bag with its type – vegetable, lawn, perennial, etc. and the approximate size of the area.
“Certified soil testers will test the pH of your sample and then tell you how much lime you may need to apply,” said Harvester.
The cost is a $1 donation.
Master gardeners will also be able to answer one’s soil and gardening questions during the event.
For a complete soil analysis, soil samples can be sent to the UMass Soil Testing Laboratory for a fee. For more details, visit http://soiltest.umass.edu.