We often say that you need healthy soil for successful gardening, especially for organic gardening. But how do you know if your soil is healthy? The addition of a large number of organic substances ensures that the soil is full of microbes, has a balanced balance of nutrients and good drainage. But what about the acid-base balance (an indicator known as pH)? And should the nutrients be healthy and resistant to diseases and pests?
Pests and diseases can move quickly through the garden, wasting time, and emptying the warehouse. If detected in time, many common pests or diseases in the garden can be managed before they get out of control. However, in some cases, certain diseases must be transmitted to control them before they are buried. Soil testing for pests and diseases can help prevent many specific outbreaks.
Testing the soil, especially the new garden soil, will help your vegetables and other plants do their best during the growing season. And spring, just before planting, is the best time to do this.
Why Test the Soil in your Garden?
Many gardeners notice problems with their plants and choose a remedy that they think can help, but in some cases that remedy exacerbates the problem. Before addressing the problem of the plants, it is important to understand the environment in which the plants live.
Soil Tests for Garden Problems
Most common fungi or viral diseases can remain dormant in the soil for many years until environmental conditions adapt to their growth or until some host plants appear. For example, the causative agent Alternaria Solani, which causes early rotting, can remain in the soil for several years if there are no tomatoes. However, after planting, the disease begins to spread.
By testing the soil for these problems before planting in the garden, it is possible to prevent epidemics and improve the condition of the soil and to cultivate it or choose a new location. Just as there are soil tests to determine nutrients or soil deficiencies, soil can be tested for pathogens. Soil samples can be sent to laboratories, usually through a local university cooperative.
There are also field tests that can be purchased online or from local garden centers for pathogens in garden soil. These tests use a scientific system known as the Eliza test and usually involve mixing soil or plant samples with different chemicals that react to certain pathogens. Unfortunately, this soil quality control is very specific to some but not all pathogens.
Diagnosis of plant diseases may require a test or test sets. Viral diseases require different tests than fungi. This saves a lot of time, money, and frustration when you find out which pathogens are being tested.
How to Test Soil for Disease or Pests
Before you send a dozen soil samples to the lab or spend a fortune on test kits, you can do some research. If the place in question used to be a garden, check to see what pests and diseases have been found there before. Anamnesis of the symptoms of fungal diseases can help reduce the number of pathogens to be assessed.
It is also true that healthy soil is less susceptible to pests and diseases. For this reason, Dr. Richard Dick developed the Willamette Valley 10 Step Soil Quality Guide to assess soil quality and disease resistance. Dig, cut, or grind the soil at all stages to verify the following:
- The structure and gradient of the soil
- The working capacity of the soil
- Soil organisms
- Vegetable waste
- Vegetable starch
- Development of plant roots
- Soil drainage through irrigation
- Soil drainage through the rain
When to Test Your Garden Soil
The ideal time to check your garden soil is in the fall or even in the winter. You want to collect samples from your garden as soon as your garden is ready for the start of the next season.
Fall also offers time to adjust the terrain and prepare it for the upcoming season. If your pH is too high or too low, lime or sulfur will change after a few months. It also takes a while for biological changes to be available to plants.
By studying and monitoring these soil conditions, you can identify areas of your landscape that are prone to disease. For example, areas where the soil is clayey and compacted and where drainage is poor are ideal places for pathogenic fungi.
The ideal time to check your garden floor is in the fall or even in the winter. You want to collect soil samples after your garden is ready and before the start of the next season.