Qualla Boundary Soil Tests: Test Your Garden, Lawn or Farm’s Soil

— Written By Benjamin Collette
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Summer has ended and the season is getting cooler; time to get those soil tests in! It’s a great time to test your soils now that you have harvested most of your produce from your gardens, so let us see how to make it better for next year. You can complete your soil tests through the state at no cost to NC residents for most of the year, but from Thanksgiving through March there is a $4.00 fee for peak season soil samples.

Take 10-12 samples in each unique location.

Figure 1: Soil Sample Locations

If you add compost or other additives to your soil, add and mix them to your soil thoroughly before conducting a test. You will want to take a sample from each unique location that you are interested in reviewing results for. For example, you will want to sample your vegetable garden separately from your back yard or front yard. Also, if one area of your yard looks healthy but the other looks poor, you would want to take two samples for your yard. You will want to take approximately 10 to 12 samples from the soil, as shown in Figure 1. For each location, each sample should be approximately 4” to 6” deep. Mix all of your samples for each location separately and be sure to mix in a plastic bucket. You will want to avoid using a metal bucket because metal particles could release into the soil and invalidate your soil sample results. After you have your sample, simply fill out the label on the sample box and the form. You can ship this off to the state or drop it off with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension of EBCI office.

After sending off the soil samples, you should get your results back within a few weeks. You should receive your report along with a cover sheet to help explain the results to you. It may suggest a variety of additives for your soil, many of which can be added through products from your local garden center or through natural methods.

Soil sample information can be picked up at the N.C. Cooperative Extension of EBCI office at 876 Acquoni Road, Cherokee, NC or any other North Carolina Cooperative Extension office. If you are unsure of how to conduct a soil sample for your soil sites, contact me and we can do the sampling together and I can explain the process in more detail.

If you have any other questions, please reach out to your EBCI Agriculture Agent, Benjamin Collette, at benjcoll@nc-cherokee.com or 828-359-6928