a smidge of soil science

Cornell has a nice set of publications and lessons on soils and fertilization online. Here are a few, some more in depth than others, all readable:\
<http://www.gardening.cornell.edu/factsheets/misc/soilbasics.html <http://www.gardening.cornell.edu/factsheets/soil/fertilizing.pdf <http://counties.cce.cornell.edu/chemung/publications/con tainer-growing-amending-soil.pdf> (URL broken, paste back together) <http://www.gardening.cornell.edu/factsheets/orgmatter/ <http://www.hort.cornell.edu/department/faculty/good/growon/index.html <http://www.nysaes.cornell.edu/recommends/8soil.htm
Not all state ag schools do soil testing for the general public now, alas, but this is Cornell's soil testing lab faq, typical of many. <http://www.css.cornell.edu/soiltest/about/faq.asp
If your state does not offer soil tests and you can't find a reasonable commercial lab, check with extension services in surrounding states to see if they'll do out of state testing. I know that Iowa State does or did do out of state testing, but the out of state tests waited for them to work through any backlog of in-state testing -- that's probably true of any state lab that does out of state samples. P,K and pH and lime requirements are a good basic starting spot for garden soil analysis. Most home gardeners really don't need much more than that except in unusual circumstances, in my experience.
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