Soil tests, first area (with technical distraction)

Before I get into this post, I just wanted to add that this is my first post written using the SeaMonkey browser. It’s also the first time I’m actually using the browser, yet I’m already seeing a HUGE difference while working in the WordPress editor. Everything is loading SO much faster. The image uploads, the block editor, everything. I’ve just opened a whole bunch of blogs I follow in new tabs, and not a single one is showing the weird colours, not a single image has failed to load, and when I scroll the bottom of posts, everything is loaded. Including the “like” button which, frustratingly, was often the one thing that would fail to load, even as the rest of the page would load. I have yet to try and leave a comment anywhere, but I’ve uploaded media, including directly into this post, without a single problem. I had been using Mozilla Firefox for this blog (to keep is separate from my personal stuff), and it’s been really awful. SeaMonkey is like Mozilla Netscape, and it works a dream, so far! Many thanks to The Hinoeuma for telling me about it!

And now, back to our regularly scheduled post…

I broke out our soil tester and began with a sample from the newest garden bed. This is soil that was under the old wood pile. You can read about that massive clean up job, here. Under it was the only soft soil we had!

The soil test kit I have is from HoldAll Decorative Plant Accessories, and this is our first use. It has the supplies to do 40 tests; 10 each for pH, nitrogen, phosphorous and potash.

The test of pH is the quickest; soil gets put directly into the test tube with the contents of a capsule (all are colour coded), shaken, then allowed to sit for a minute. The other tests required a soil sample to be mixed with water at a ratio of 1 part soil to 5 parts water, so I started that first. Though only the pH test could be done right away, I readied the capsuled for all the tests, so I wouldn’t have to go into the mylar bag again.

I had just finished setting the pH sample in the test tube holder when something large and white caught my eye through the window.

It was the tarp over the load of garden soil in the outer yard, blowing around!

A daughter and I dashed off to get it before it blew away.

The wind has only been picking up! I don’t think I’ll be moving soil onto the new garden bed today. 😦

We fixed the tarp, adding more rocks and even a tire rim onto it, to keep it from blowing away.

Then we came inside, and I found three cats on the table, going after the remaining three test capsules!

They were licking them, and the gel capsules were starting to dissolve. 😦 I don’t think any of the powder was ingested, though. They are now sealed in a container.

The pH test had more than enough time to be ready, but the water and soil mixture will need a lot more time! The instructions said it could take anywhere from 30 minutes to 24 hours, depending on how much clay is in the soil.

The soil in the new garden bed came up as neutral. We have a soil meter that is simply stuck into the ground that reads sunlight, moisture and pH. It had been used in the area that now has garlic, and read at about 7.5, so this was pretty much what I was expecting. Most of the things we are planting do better in a slightly acid soil – about 6 – 6.5 – but what we planted in this area last year did pretty good anyhow.

As I write this, the soil and water mixture has been sitting for more than an hour, and is still totally opaque! From the looks of it, it may need to stay overnight.

Meanwhile, I’ve already gathered a sample of the next test I want to do: the new garden soil! I suppose I could do a pH test right away, but I’ll wait until the other three tests on this first sample is done, first.

Testing the soil in the old garden is going to be a challenge. The samples are supposed to be as free of rocks and organic matter as possible.


We’ll see how close to that we can manage!


As I was working on this post, I got a phone call from my mother. After a while, she asked what we’ve been doing, so I told her about the new garden beds. I tried to describe to her where we put the new bed for the tomatoes, and made the mistake of starting with, “you know where your yellow flowers are?” She immediately launched into “you mean you destroyed my flowers!!” I had to stop her and tell her, “wait, no… you know that space between those flowers and the chain link fence?”

I honestly think my mother forgets that the chain link fence even exists at times! It took her a while before she realized I was talking about the grassy area. Which confused her even more, because nothing was ever grown there, and how can I plant without plowing the soil first? Or at least tilling it? So I described to her what we did with the layers of cardboard, straw and soil. Once she knew our garden soil was delivered, that helped, but she still accused me of killing off her flowers again! Then she brought up the shade of trees, and I told her we only had to take down the one tree that was killing her lilac, anyhow, and that we picked that spot because it will get full sunlight now.

She still had a hard time understanding that we’re planting anything on that side of the house, in the yard, and was all, “so you’re letting the garden go to weeds again”, meaning the area she used to garden in. I told her no, we’re going to be planting all sorts of things there. Without plowing? Yes. Without plowing.

That lead to a whole lot more explaining of things, even though we’ve had this conversation several times, now. She has the hardest time with the concept of no-till gardening. It’s just too wrong! 😀

At least this time, she ended by saying, when everything is in and growing, we need to bring her over so she can see it! 😀 So that’s progress, at least! She certainly wasn’t impressed by what she saw last year, but we’ll see how it goes this year. I’m sure she’ll find lots to be angry about! 😀

I didn’t even try to explain to her about the soil testing, though. Maybe another time. Us planting in an area she never planted in was already pressing her limits! 😀 Which is funny, because she would stick little gardens in, or plant trees, all over the place. Some of them in places that are now very difficult to work around! 😀 So it’s not like I’m doing something she hadn’t already done herself.

One thing that was funny was when we talked about starting things indoors, and I mentioned needing to start squash. She asked if we were growing zucchini, and I told her yes, in green, yellow and a different green, plus the bright yellow round squash (the pattypans) that I’d given her last year. Oh, those are just toys! she tells me. 😀 I reminded her that we find them quite delicious!

Hmm. Now I’m suddenly wondering. Did she eat the fresh pattypan squash I’d given her? Or did she get rid of them, because they were too new for her?

I don’t think I want to know the answer to that. 😀

As we talked more about starting things indoors, she had the hardest time understanding that yes, we already have tomatoes started from seed. I think she was disappointed that she couldn’t chastise me for not having them started already. 😀

Talking to my mother about this place can be very challenging! I don’t think she forgets that she doesn’t own it anymore, but she still wants to control everything that is done here, including things she doesn’t understand (if only because my dad and brothers took care of them for her, over the years). I try to respect her wishes as much as possible, but our job is to take care of the place, not keep it in stasis. It’s slowly working out, though. It just takes a lot of explaining, sometimes! Or, in some cases, not even bringing them up.

Like testing soil. I’ll bring that up only if we have a lot of time for me to explain things in ways that make sense to her. It’s not so much that she isn’t aware of some things; it’s more likely she’s never encountered the terms to describe them before.

It’ll work out. It’ll just take time and patience!

The Re-Farmer

One thought on “Soil tests, first area (with technical distraction)

  1. Pingback: Soil tests three and four | The Re-Farmer

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