Summer Soil Test Drive

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Get the Dirt on Your Soil – Test Your Soil During the Summer Soil Test Drive: July 12 – August 8

Blueberry leaves with iron chlorosis

Pale leaves on acid loving plants such as blueberry can indicate soil pH is too high.

Are you disappointed in your garden’s performance? Does your lawn lack vigor? Do your landscape plants appear pale or yellow? Soil testing can help you get to the root of the problem.

Poor growth, discolored leaves, excessive shedding of older leaves, reduced flowering, and poor flavor in vegetables can be caused by nutrient deficiencies due to improper pH or lack of fertilization. If you have observed these symptoms on plants in your yard soil testing can help you determine if low nutrients or pH issues are the cause.

Soil testing is also an important step to prepare for new plantings. Soil testing before you plant can prevent nutrient or pH related problems by accurately telling you which nutrients your soil needs and how much lime, if any, is required to support healthy plant growth.

If you plan to plant a fall vegetable garden, renovate your lawn, or install landscaping this fall and have not had your soil tested in the past few years, submitting soil samples this summer will ensure you get results in time to prepare for fall garden projects.

In North Carolina, soil testing is provided by the N.C. Department of Agriculture’s Agronomic Services division. Samples submitted between April 1 and November 30 are processed at no charge, while samples submitted during the December 1 – March 30 peak season cost $4 per box. Learn more about soil testing in NC.

Boxes, forms and instructions for soil testing are available from every N.C. Cooperative Extension Center, and there is a center in every county. Completed samples can be mailed or dropped off to the NC Department of Agriculture’s agronomic lab in Raleigh. Chatham County residents are encouraged to submit soil samples to the Chatham County Center during our summer soil test drive.

Between July 12 and August 8, Chatham County residents can pick up soil test supplies and drop off completed samples at the N.C. Cooperative Extension Chatham County Center, located in the west end of the Chatham County Agriculture and Conference Center, 1192 US 64 W Business, Pittsboro. Click here for directions.

Soil test supplies are also available from the Extension Master Gardener booth at the Fearrington Farmers Market. Extension Master Gardener Volunteers attend the Fearrington Farmers Market the first and third Tuesday of each month, from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m., to answer garden questions and provide soil testing supplies. They will also accept completed samples during the soil test drive.

All samples submitted during the drive will be delivered free of charge to the soil test lab in Raleigh in mid-August and individuals can expect to receive their results by email in early September – just in time to for fall garden projects. Learn more about the summer soil test drive.

The summer soil test drive is made possible by Chatham County Extension Master Gardener Volunteers.

Soil test results will not determine if there are diseases or herbicide residues in your soil, or if poor drainage, compaction, or other soil issues are causing plant problems. If you suspect these issues contact your local N.C. Cooperative Extension center to speak to an Extension Master Gardener (EMG) volunteer for advice.

In Chatham County, EMG volunteers are available to answer your gardening questions Monday and Thursday afternoons, from 1:00 – 4:00. To contact a Chatham EMG:

Contacting the EMG volunteers in your county will ensure you get the best advice for your area and will connect you with local resources. Connect with EMG volunteers in your county:

N.C. Cooperative Extension has an office in every county. Find your local N.C. Cooperative Extension County Center.

Use Extension Search to find research based information from Cooperative Extension systems across the U.S. or post your questions to be answered online via Extension’s ‘Ask an Expert’ widget.