It's Science! Part 1
Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at 04:01PM

This past week Scotia and I trudged out into the wet, mucky soil to dig some samples.  We dug 10 samples all over the two fields, 4" deep and brought home about 2 cups of soil from each sample.  As this is my first time on the land I was curious about the soil pH and the nutrient levels.  Yesterday we went to the G.R. Paine Horticulture Centre in Nanaimo where I went to school 2 years ago.  Even though I tested the pH of all my samples using the Rapitest Soil Test Kit (from Lee Valley), I thought it would be fun to use the expensive equipment at the centre.  A big thanks to Anne for the hook up!

We conducted two tests yesterday.  First, we prepared our soil samples for the pH test by mixing 100mL of soil with 200 mL of distilled water, and letting that sit for 15 minutes.  After the 15 minutes, we strained the mixture onto a paper plate and used a Hanna pH meter to measure.  We discovered field 1 to have an acidic pH of 5.6, while field 2 overall was more neutral at 6.6.  Now I need to either lime that field or discover which plants like a bit more of an acidic soil.  A good pH range for most vegetables seems to be between 5.8 and 7.0.  I found a great website that explains the importance of pH levels in your vegetable soil - check it out here.

We then started onto the second test to test the composition of the soil.  We half filled two mason jars with soil, then added distilled water and agitated the jars for 5 minutes.  They then needed to sit undisturbed for 24 hours for the sand, silt and clay to settle.  Once that is settled, there is a calculation you can do to find out the composition of your soil.  That information can be found in It's Science!! - Part 2... to be continued.

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