Soil Test Report - nutrient question and soil testing of additional raised beds

Asked March 27, 2018, 3:50 PM EDT

I've received a soil test report from Univ of Delaware regarding a new vegetable garden in the area tested. I am concerned about the level of calcium -- listed as 334 (where optimum level seems to be from about 60-100). Is there anything to counteract such an excessive level? If not, what effects might that have on the variety of vegetable crops I intend to plant? I will try to attach the report. (I'm not interested in the 'lawn' recommendations; just vegetables (and flower beds to a lesser extent.). Additionally, this test was of the soil in the ground in the area; however, I intend to place raised beds on top of the soil. Once I've added all compounds to the new raised beds, how soon can I have that new soil with amendments tested (i.e., would it be accurate right away, or take awhile for everything to be mixed up and take hold? == I'm adding things like compost, poultry compost, worm castings, and pulverized granite) to the new top soil.

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3 Responses

Did you get a pH reading in your soil test? If so, let us know what it is. A very high pH can be lowered, but we'd need to know what it is.

The calcium should be okay. 'Optimum' doesn't mean that readings above that are harmful, just not necessary.

The nutrient levels of your soil will always be changing. Compounds break down, nutrients are available to plants, some nutrients wash away. Even if you are working lime into your raised bed soil in order to raise pH, you can take an immediate reading and it should be accurate enough.

Before you add the raised bed, read through our recommendations for raised bed soil:
Ideal vegetable garden soil should be loose, deep and crumbly. It should drain well (water should not stand on top after rain) and contain plenty of organic matter. Good garden soil will deliver the right mixture of air, water, and nutrients to grow a large root system and strong, productive plants.

Test the soil

Test the existing soil where the raised bed will be located even if you plan to add purchased topsoil. Pay for a basic soil test from a certified soil lab (more accurate and complete and usually less costly than diy testers. The pH level should be in the 6.2-6.8 range.) Test your soil for lead.

Here is how to test your soil:

Use existing soil

1. If the soil is in good shape (not compacted, drains well) add 4 inches of compost and mix it with the top 4-inches of existing soil using a tiller, spade, or garden fork. You can also help loosen soils with high clay content by pushing in your garden fork and rocking it back and forth. Move the fork 6-8 inches and repeat across the entire bed.

2. Alternatively, in fall or early spring, cover the existing soil with multiple layers of newspaper to kill grass and weeds (can take 6-8 weeks). Then add 4 inches of compost and lightly mix in with top 4 inches of soil. You could also use heavyweight weed barrier to kill vegetation; just remove it when the vegetation is dead and add your compost.

3. For both scenarios, cover 2-ft. wide pathways around the raised beds with newspaper or weed barrier to kill vegetation. Dig up the top 2-3 inches of soil and dead vegetation and add it to the raised beds. Your permanent paths can be covered with wood chips, shredded bark, brick, or heavyweight landscape fabric (>3 oz. per square yard). If you don’t have time to kill the vegetation in the paths you can slice through it horizontally with a spade. Compost the weeds and grass and dig out 1-2 inches of soil that you will add to the raised bed.


I'm trying for the 3rd time to attach the file with soil test report. It was pdf which apparently does not work. I've tried to convert it to jpeg in case that works. It indicates the pH is 7.0. Thanks.

Your pH is okay and does not need to be adjusted. You do not have to test the new soil. You can test this in another three years.
No fertilizer additional fertilizer is needed since you will be adding the new amendments to the existing soil.