Soil testing

An exciting day today - we got the test results of our soil! I've been waiting eagerly for these ever since I dug a few holes in the frozen, snow covered ground a couple weeks ago. For those looking to do this at home the process is relatively simple:

  1. Determine your vineyard site.
  2. Bring a few tools - measuring tape, spade/trowel/shovel, a plastic bag, a beer and a friend.
  3. Dig a few ~7in holes (I dug just 2 because it was cold and hard) - basically take a sampling of a few spots of your proposed vineyard location.
  4. Put the dirt into your ziplock/plastic bag, shake it up.
  5. Look up your state university's "agriculture" or "soil" lab. 
  6. Mail your bag of dirt. 
  7. Await results.

When you look up your soil extension they should have some type of form you can fill out to ask for specific tests, name your planned crop, and expected cost. As a fangirl for stats and numbers, I asked for every test they had and paid just under $50.

And the numbers are in! By a stroke of luck, the one and only cleared area of land has some good looking soil.

Soil Test, Vineyard Soil, pH, P, K
    Type: Loam                   
        Sand:           46%
        Silt:             28%
        Clay:           26%

These are supposedly pretty good numbers - especially the soil type break down which you want to be well balanced. I base this assertion on the details in my favorite two guide books which are the source of the majority of my vine growing knowledge. The soil should just take some tweaks with some high phosphorus fertilizer.

I highly recommend the full soil testing from a university or lab. You can try the do-it-at-home approach where you take a sliver of your sample and add some water in a jar and let it sit for a few days. 

It is supposed to separate out to show you the different soil parts but mine just looked like some dirt in water.. but it did help pass the time while I waited for my official results. If you do give it a try let me know if you have better luck than I did!

With the soil tested, the next big pre-planting hurdle is figuring out how to dig a few 100ft long, 3ft deep, 3ft wide trenches... simple!

And for those interested the two books I'm using extensively are as follows. I am likely to mention them frequently.

From Vines to Wines by Jeff Cox
I read this cover to cover, and found it to be really well rounded, foundation building book. Thanks to Jeff and this book, I felt confident enough to go forth and commit - TBD on how it turns out.

The Organic Backyard Vineyard by Tom Powers
A really good reference book, not as detailed but more high level summary of the steps with nice visualizations.

*Links are affiliate links to BookShop: "an online bookstore with a mission to financially support local, independent bookstores."


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