How do you know what your soil needs unless you know what your soil has!
You can buy soil test kits or you can use your state’s Cooperative Extension laboratory to have your soil analyzed.
The USDA maintains a list of all the state extension offices which can be found http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/.
Each state does things a little differently – for example, if you contact the Virginia Cooperative Extension Office, they will send you a soil sample box which you will send to Virginia Tech filled with your soil sample. But if you live in New York, the submission form explains that you will send your sample in a container you provide.
Not sure how you should collect your soil for a soil test –
- Joseph R. Hunnings and Stephen J. Donohue both Extension Specialists at Virginia Tech describe the process quite simply in this publication http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/452/452-129/452-129.pdf
- The University of Maryland Home and Garden Information Center has a YouTube channel and this one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bScoY8DI6Zc demonstrates exactly how to take a soil sample. Isn’t YouTube great!
I wouldn’t do my soil sampling when the ground is too wet – not only will you pay more postage to send the wet soil to the lab but the container may fall apart in transit – plus the lab is not going to do anything with the sample until it dries out.