Spring has sprung! If you're a gardener, you're thinking about the quality of your soil and how you might make improvements. Austin Brownfields Revitalization Office, part of Austin Resource Recovery, is making this process easy by sponsoring free soil testing at this year's Soil Kitchen. The Kitchen will be open April 8 and 9, 2017 at Parque Zaragoza Recreation Center, 2608 E. Gonzales Street, 78702. Soil quality can make or break a garden. In order to grow healthy food crops it is important to know about the nutrients that are present or lacking, in addition to other elements that might be hiding in the soil. Austin home gardeners can take advantage of this free opportunity to find out what's in their soil, how to improve it and learn about food safety. The kitchen will be part of the East Austin Garden Fair on Saturday at Parque Zaragoza and will take samples from 9-2 a.m. On Sunday, April 9, the Kitchen will be set up outside and will accept samples from 9 a.m.- noon. Testing is confidential. Gardeners simply label their samples with their initials and the cross streets closest to the garden, bring them to the kitchen then look up the anonymous results online in mid-May 2017. It's that easy! Here's how to sample: 1. Gather supplies- You'll need a garden trowel, a zip-top plastic bag, a waterproof marker, and a clean, shallow pan. 2. Label sample bags- Label the bag with the following information: your initials, the date you took the sample, and the approximate location (cross streets) of your garden plot. PLEASE do not give your exact address. 3. Retrieve samples- Go to your garden area and sample the soil in five to 10 different spots around the garden bed(s). Sample to a depth of six inches, using your trowel to make a cone shape into the soil and then extracting the sample. Place each of the collected samples into the shallow pan. 4. Mixing and sifting- when you have completed the sampling work, take your trowel and mix all the soil together in the shallow pan to obtain a more representative sample. If the soil is very wet, leave the soil to dry out in the pan overnight. Make sure to remove any rocks, grass, or dead plant material that could get in the way. 5. Fill and seal- Fill your plastic bag until it is half full (about two cups) and seal it shut. 6. Drop your sample off at the Soil Kitchen- We will give you a card that has information on how to obtain your soil results online. Bring your samples down to the Soil Kitchen then enjoy the East Austin Garden Fair which will feature an assortment of fun, hands-on demonstration activities for all ages!