Free soil pH testing in September

ELLSWORTH — A free soil pH testing program for Hancock County residents is being provided by a collaboration of Hancock County Soil and Water Conservation District, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

Two 24-hour drop-off locations are available: the USDA building, NRCS office, 474 Bucksport Road (Route 1), Ellsworth (phone 812-9710) and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, 63 Boggy Brook Road, Ellsworth (phone 667-8212). Leave soil samples in the drop-box provided at each location.

The pH of soil is a measure of relative acidity-alkalinity. Values below 7 are acidic and above 7 are alkaline. Soils in Hancock County tend to be acidic and often can be too acidic for the flowers and vegetables that we want to grow. Soil pH also has a strong influence on amounts and kinds of nutrients available for plant roots. The University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service provides more extensive soil testing for a small fee. A volunteer from the Hancock County Soil and Water Conservation District will be doing the testing through September.

Samples will be picked up Thursday afternoons. Results will be available within one to two days.

Using a clean trowel, collect soil from the root zone (0-8 inches deep) in your garden or field. In wooded areas, discard the leaf litter on top and collect soil 0-8 inches deep in a clean container. Mix well to homogenize the material to be tested. For a garden or field, take samples from several different areas (five to six same-sized samples so you can mix for a representative sample). Put your final sample (at least 1 cup) in a Ziploc bag with your name, town, phone number, email and an identifier for your samples (e.g., samples A, B and C).