Should you test your soil when the ground hasn’t completely thawed yet?


We recently moved to Maine. I want to get my soil tested. I have a collection kit. The soil is pretty frozen. I’m going to do a minimum till and and cover with about 6″ of compost. Is it worth testing the soil now? 


Abi Griffith, Horticulture Community Education Assistant

It’s a great idea to get your soil tested, and I know you, along with everyone else, are ready to get going. If you moved from a place with a longer growing season, you may have to get used to waiting it out a bit!  You’ll want to wait until your ground is thawed enough to get a good test, to make it worth your while, and you will still have plenty of time to incorporate any recommended amendments before the growing season. Refer to this link – Testing Your Soil if you need to, for a demo on how to get a good soil test, etc. For most growing purposes, you want to sample about 8 inches down. For a lawn, you’ll only need about 3 inches or so depth, but I’m assuming this is for growing a garden.  When you are able to get into that area to get a sample, try to avoid walking and digging all over your sight to avoid soil compaction, which can become a common problem during an early season thaw.

Additionally, be sure to wait to do any tilling until your soil is dry enough! Tilling wet soil can ruin the soil structure for the rest of the summer. If you make a tight ball with a handful of soil and it doesn’t fall apart when you open your fist, then it is still too wet.