Check soil pH and fertility by having your soil analyzed at least once every three years. Your local Extension agent will have directions for properly collecting a soil sample. Your soil samples can be sent to the State University or a Soils Laboratory for testing. Soil testing kits are also available. Soil pH measures the degree of acidity or alkalinity of the soil. Vegetables vary to some extent in their requirements, but most garden crops will do well with a soil pH of 6.2 to 6.8. This is a little below neutral, or slightly acid (sour). If soil pH is too high or low, poor crop growth will result, largely due to the effects pH has on the availability of nutrients to plants.
A soil test report will include the relative level of phosphorus, potassium, and micronutrients in the soil. The report also will give you recommendations for the amount of lime and fertilizer to add so that your soil pH and nutrient levels are suitable for vegetables. To find out more about soil testing in you area, call one of the following local services:
Rock Island County Farm Bureau: (309) 736-7432
Scott County Extension Service: (563) 359-7577