Horticulture

TESTING, TESTING

EVERY TABLESPOON of healthy soil contains billions of bacteria, fungi and other microbes that are critical to growing healthy plants. But how do you measure soil health when microbes are too small to see? Here are five simple tests that work as well in your garden as they do on a farm.

THE MANUAL TEST

This first test couldn’t be any easier: just take a scoop of soil and hold it in your hands. Notice what it feels like, looks like and smells like.

Healthy soil is dark and it binds together. It should look like chocolate cottage cheese, with air pockets, worm holes and plant materials bound together. If it sifts through your fingers, you are missing the structure provided by

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