How to Take a Soil Sample:
Soil pH: http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/care/planting/soil-ph.html 1. Identify the area(s) to be sampled. Turf areas, vegetable gardens and ornamental beds should all be sampled separately.
2. Using a shovel, trowel, or soil probe, remove soil from several spots in the sampling area. Select several plugs at random, place in a container, and mix together.
3. Remove any plant material or mulch dug up with the plugs. Avoid adding plugs that show different characteristics. These may need a separate test.
4. Soil should be removed from 2-4 inches below the surface for turf and 6-8 inches below the surface for vegetables and landscape plants.
5. Remove approximately 1-2 cups (1 pint) of soil and spread it out on newspaper or a paper grocery bag. Allow the soil to air dry thoroughly.
6. Remove 1 cup of soil and place it into a bag or jar to submit for testing at the Extension Office. The soil will be tested for pH and soluble salts for $5. If you want to have nutrient content tested in addition to the pH and soluble salts, you will need to send your samples to the Soil Laboratory in Gainesville. There will be a nominal charge for this service. If you want help interpreting the results you can contact Sally Scalera at (321) 633-1702.
Fertilizer for Container Grown Plants: Nutricote – not affected by Florida humidity so 9 months’ duration lasts 9 mos. Osmocote – very affected by Florida Humidity so 9 mos. Listed duration lasts maybe 4 months. Don’t ever apply turf fertilizer within fifty feet of a palm tree. Although the nitrogen in such formulations is slow-release, the potassium and magnesium are quick release. The nitrogen will spur new growth after the potassium and magnesium needed for healthy fronds will have been depleted. Florida Friendly Fertilizers in Compliance with Local Fertilizer Ordinances: http://befloridiannow.org/florida-friendly-products/
Organic fertilizers, soil conditioners and soil additives are also available. Some of the most common are: • Blood meal: a byproduct of the meat-packing industry. Steamed and dried, it's high in phosphorous. • Bone meal: another byproduct of the meat-packing industry, bone meal contains calcium and phosphorous, essential elements for plant growth. • Fish emulsion: a fish-processing byproduct. Mild, nontoxic and organic, fish emulsion is good for tender plants that may suffer fertilizer burn. • Compost: one of the best all-around garden materials for soil improvement. • Composted manure: for soil conditioning or use in the compost pile. • Peat moss: an amendment that aerates and lightens heavier soils such as clay. It adds mass to sandy soils to reduce the leaching of nutrients.