Hoskins Speaks with Press Herald about Soil Testing

Bruce Hoskins, an assistant scientist of plant, soil and environmental sciences at the University of Maine, spoke with the Portland Press Herald for the article, “Poor soil? Test now and be ready for next year’s planting season,” the latest column in the Maine Gardener series. Hoskins, who is the coordinator of the soil testing program at UMaine’s Analytical Soil Testing Lab, said home gardeners should do a soil test every two to three years. Gardeners can choose from a standard test that checks soil pH (acidity), organic matter, all important minerals except available nitrogen, and whether there are problems with lead; or a comprehensive test that also tests for available nitrogen, Hoskins said. The Analytical Soil Testing Lab does about 15,000 tests a year, and Hoskins said he is finding many gardens with low nitrogen this year. “There’s kind of an urban legend that you can grow things on compost and don’t need anything else,” he said. “There are lots of nitrogen shortages in gardens where people use compost and nothing else.”