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Gardeners: Learn About Your Soil

Homer Grown

The role the Homer Soil and Water Conservation District plays in local gardening and farming is vast. Kyra Wagoner was on The Coffee Table with Desiree Hagen recently and talked about some of the services the District offers, including free soil testing. Here's an excerpt. You can hear the whole show at any time at; we have a link below.

Hagen:     Well, you wear many hats here, and I know you specifically from Homer Soil and Water Conservation District.

Wagoner:     I'm the district manager down there. We do a lot with  growers, producers and  gardeners.  We provide a service where we will take your soil. If you bring in a cup or two of soil from your garden or high tunnel or field, we'll send it off to a lab, get all of the soil details, figured out about it.
    We have a person on staff who does soil analysis analysis. She will give you a description of what kind of additives you should add to your soil. According to that chemical analysis that we get back from the lab. So we walk people through helping their soils. And a myriad of other things, but that's one of the main things that we do with  all gardeners and farmers when it comes to this time of the season.

Hagen:    So Kyra, coincidentally, I have four bags of soil samples in my car waiting to be dropped off there. What are you guys testing in the soil?

Wagoner: Oh, good question.  Oh, I wish I had a sample sheet with me, but  we test  the pH levels so that you can know if you need to add lime.  We have really acidic soils here, so potatoes can do pretty good in that and native plants, but otherwise a lot of our perennials and a lot of our vegetables prefer moderate pH, so you can adjust your soil for that. We also studied nitrogen phosphorus potassium. So your basic nutrients can be added in that way too. We give recommendations that can be either  organic or commercial, ordinary kind of additives, like  the NPK 20-15-8, or something like that.
    So you can get any kind of recommendations for your fertilizers.  We also  note the organic matter compost is a really big thing with most organic gardeners. So we can give you a feedback on how much that is in your soils.
    That's the, the main things that are getting studied there.

Originally from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia, Desiree has called Alaska ‘home’ for almost two decades. Her involvement in radio began over 10 years, first as a volunteer DJ at KBBI, later as a host and producer, and now in her current role as a reporter. Her passions include stories relating to agriculture, food systems and rural issues. In her spare time, she can often be found riding her bicycle, creating art from handmade paper, or working in the garden.
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