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Can I get my garden soil analysed in Canberra?

By 3 February 2010 8

I would like to get my veggie garden soil tested for all nutrients.  I’m good at growing a stupid amount of veggies (about 200 Kilos a year) but I know I am missing some nutrients, not getting replaced with the organic matter I feed it.  For instance, I have to use potash on the tomatoes or else they don’t fruit and just grow into a big bush.  I’m concerned that continued use of this product will create excess salt and render the veggie patch in a bad state.

 

I have done a little research and the SWEP Analytical Laboratories (http://www.swep.com.au) appear to do a good job but they are in Nobel Park Victoria.  They analyse your soil for its nutrient contents and recommend what basic minerals you apply (not chemical fertilisers).  Is there anywhere in Canberra that can do a similar soil test and provide good value for money?  Has anyone used SWEP and can recommend them?  Does anyone know what minerals Canberra soils traditionally lack (besides organic matter)?

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8 Responses to Can I get my garden soil analysed in Canberra?
#1
indigoid6:26 pm, 03 Feb 10

My father is a serious tomato junkie and says you need to starve them a bit early on to encourage fruit, otherwise they will grow all leafy and not really produce much. He also says to specifically avoid one type of fertiliser, but I forget which one, sorry.

#2
Special G8:31 pm, 03 Feb 10

Try a good crop rotation system with a green manure crop every now and then.

#3
andy pandy7:10 am, 04 Feb 10

Speak to one of the rural stores their agronomists should be able to arrange tests for you, the tests are fairly expensive and you would need to get them done regularly to be a good management tool. Be aware that soil tests only tell you what’s in the ground not what the plants are taking up.

#4
soilduck4:21 pm, 04 Feb 10

Hi there! I am a soil scientist at ANU and I have a small consulting business on the side. More than happy to help you out with your problems.

There are some typical Canberra problems, but it depends on the suburb you are in and its history. You can email me at jessica dawt drake at anu dawt edu dawt au if you want some specific advice! :D

#5
soilduck4:24 pm, 04 Feb 10

BTW My specialty is in compost/organic matter and nutrient cycling in soils. Happy to give you advice for free. :D

#6
imhotep7:25 pm, 04 Feb 10

Jess! Go away! Run! You’re far too nice for a site like this.

(If you want sound advice though, Jess is one person I’d listen to).

#7
Psygorian9:35 pm, 04 Feb 10

Heres the go, Bunnings have soil kits where you can keep track of what it needs to stay healthy. The trick is to vary all the nutrients and things you put back into the soil and rotate your crops. We never plant the same thing in the same place twice. But dont you just LOVE the taste of home grown food??

#8
yoyo239:48 am, 06 Feb 10

Thanks for the posts guys. Do Bunnings really have test kits for many different nutrients? Hmm, I’ll have to go look. All I have at the moment is the pH test kit.

I have 5 veggie boxes bordered by old railway sleepers, so 2.3m squared each. I don’t plant the same thing in the same box for at least 2 seasons. I have three large compost bins (but tend to only empty one per year) and buy lucerne or pea straw as mulch. I haven’t added any manure for about 3 years. I’m really trying to increase the organic content of the soil but it seems to be disappearing as fast as I put it in. I’ll send you an e-mail Jess with more specifics.
Cheers.

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