Orange County Insight February 2023

Gingerbread House Contest Results By: Joe Falin, Program and Facilities Supervisor, Parks and Recreation Don ’ t Guess, Soil Test By: Kaci Daniel, Extension Agent, 4 - H Youth Development When the first signs of spring arrive, many Orange residents will be raring to go with yard work and gardening. This often includes applications of lime and fertilizer, but before you go that route, it ’ s best to take a soil test to know the nutrient contents of your soil. Taking a soil test is easy and inexpensive, and soil test kits are available from any Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) location. We are in the Sedwick Building, located at 146 N. Madison Road, Suite 102, Orange, Virginia. Using a small trowel, dig four (4) inches into the soil and place that scoop of soil in a bucket or other mixing container. Repeat three (3) to five (5) times around your lawn or garden, adding to the bucket each time. Mix the soil well to ensure a random sample, and then fill a VCE soil sample box with your soil. Label the sample with your name and an identifier like front, back, yard, garden, or whatever makes sense to you. Complete the accompanying VCE soil test form, and mail the box of soil and completed form with a check for $10 per sample to the soils lab at Virginia Tech. You only need separate soil tests where your fertilizer application might change. One (1) sample is sufficient for most home lawns in this area; you may wish to send a second sample for a vegetable garden or specific flowers and shrubs. The routine soil test measures soil pH, Phosphorus, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc, Manganese, Copper, Iron, Boron, and estimated Cation Exchange Capacity.

Soil test results are usually available withing seven (7) to fourteen (14) days, and the lab gets much busier as springtime weather approaches. Results can be mailed or e - mailed to you and include directions for how much fertilizer and or lime to apply based on what you intend to grow. Extension staff can also access those results and help you to interpret them and devise a plan for increasing the overall quality of soil. While fall is generally the best time to amend soils, spring seems to be when most citizens are thinking about the soil beneath their lawns and gardens. Don ’ t waste time, money, or send valuable nutrients as runoff into our waterways - it ’ s always best to do a soil test! To view VCE publications about a variety of topics, visit, or contact the Orange County Extension Office at (540) 672 - 1361.

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