Now is the time to collect those soil tests to reveal pH and fertility problems in pastures, fields, and garden areas. The Extension Office has soil sampling kits which allow you to mail the sample directly to the University of Florida’s Soil Testing Laboratory for analysis.
Collecting a representative sample of the area is the most important step in the entire process. Don't take a sample from an unusual spot and expect it to be the same as the entire area being tested.
To collect the sample, use a shovel or trowel. Obtain a small amount of soil from 10-15 different spots over the area you wish to test. When you sample a lawn, take the soil from the upper 2-4 inches. When sampling a vegetable garden or landscape plants, take soil from the upper six inches. Mix the core samples together to make one representative sample.
Once samples have been collected, air dry the soil on newspaper in the sun for a couple of hours and place in the sample bag, complete the information sheet and mail in the sample submission box to the lab in Gainesville. A computer generated analysis and recommendation will normally be returned to you within 2 weeks.
A routine soil test which checks pH, Phosphorous, Potassium, Calcium and Magnesium levels costs $7.00. You can ask for fertilizer recommendations for several different crops by simply indicating the crop codes on the information sheet, there is no additional charge. If you prefer, you can download a copy of the soil testing forms at the Extension Soil Testing Laboratory Web site.