- Author: Anne Schellman
Do I need to test my garden soil?
The short answer is, “no.” Although many gardening magazines and websites advise gardeners to “test” their soil, it's unnecessary unless you suspect a major problem such as lead contamination or excess salts.
For a list of soil laboratories located in Stanislaus, Merced, Fresno, and Merced Counties, visit https://cemerced.ucanr.edu/ClimateSmartAg/HSP/SoilTest/Soil_Testing_Laboratories_in_Fresno_Madera_Merced_and_Stanislaus_Counties/
I think I have bad soil; nothing grows! What should I do?
The most common reason gardeners have trouble with soil is compaction, which results in poor drainage. This is often caused by compaction from heavy machinery or foot traffic. To improve soil, Master Gardeners recommend adding 4-6” of compost and mixing it into the soil. This is best done when soil is not wet. Since compost is an organic material that breaks down, continue to add it each season.
I think there are diseases in my soil, what should I spray?
Should I add manure to my vegetable garden soil?
Manure is a great addition to prepare your soil for a vegetable garden. However, it's best to use composted manure and to incorporate it into the soil several weeks before you plant. If fresh manure is used, plants may turn yellow due to the high concentration of salts.
How often should I fertilize my fruit trees?
Fruit trees work hard to produce a crop and do benefit from applications of fruit tree fertilizer in spring. Always follow the instructions on the package and never apply more than is recommended.
Have a soil, fertilizer, or other question topic we didn't answer?
Our Master Gardeners are available on Wednesdays from 9:00 a.m. to noon in person or by phone (209) 525-6802. You can also drop off a sample during business hours and we will get back to you, or fill out this survey (you can also attach photos if needed):
http://ucanr.edu/ask/ucmgstanislaus A Master Gardener will get back to you within 5 days of your request.
UCCE Stanislaus County Master Gardeners
3800 Cornucopia Way Ste A
Modesto, CA 95358
If you live in another county in California, you can find your local Master Gardener program by using this link https://mg.ucanr.edu/FindUs/