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Kanawha County Agriculture & Natural Resources

WVU Extension offers a variety of programs related to horticulture, agriculture and natural resources available for the residents of West Virginia. For a complete listing of all the information WVU Extension has for home gardeners, visit our lawns, gardens and pests section. While you're there, learn about the WVU Extension Master Gardener Program and how it benefits individuals and communities. Be sure to check out the latest from our popular WVU Extension Garden Calendar.

If you’re a producer, whether with large-scale animals or vegetables for your local market, visit WVU Extension's farming section for more in-depth information about agriculture.

If you’re interested in learning about the all the things that make West Virginia wild and wonderful, visit our natural resources section.

This Month in the Garden Calendar

Heirloom Tomatoes

Red heirloom tomato on the vine.

When talking about heirloom tomatoes, West Virginians cannot help but mention the Mortgage Lifter – one of the favorites in the state.

The plant grows large, meaty, 1- to 3-pound red and pink fruits and will keep producing until the frost. This tomato variety reaches maturity approximately 80 to 85 days from transplanting. With West Virginia’s short growing season, it would be beneficial to start these plants six to eight weeks before Mother’s Day. That way, you can have a strong healthy seedling earlier in the season. 

More from the Garden Calendar

Lawn, Gardening & Pests News for Kanawha County

Join us for the 2022 Master Gardener Conference

The 27th annual Master Gardener Conference will be held on April 8-10, 2022, at Oglebay Resort in Wheeling, West Virginia.

Garden enthusiasts and beginner gardeners from near and far are invited to join us this year! To register for the conference or find more information about the schedule and speakers, visit the Master Gardener Conference page.

West Virginia Extension Master Gardener Program.

Become a Master Gardener in Spring 2022

female planting in a garden

WVU Extension Master Gardener training, typically offered through in-person courses organized by WVU Extension offices around the state, will once again be available online via Zoom sessions. 

Something we learned through this COVID-induced way of conducting our training is that many people found it very appealing and wanted to have the online training opportunity again this fall. Some counties are starting to offer in-person sessions, but given the volatility of the COVID situation, the best approach is to have a hybrid platform. 


Kanawha Urban Ag Alliance

To support the efforts of community gardens around Kanawha County, an association has been established, the Kanawha Urban Ag Alliance. The Alliance started out as the Kanawha Community Garden Association, but growing interests have led to the designation as KUAA. All gardeners participating in community gardens and persons interested in urban agriculture are invited to attend.

Meetings are scheduled for the fourth Thursday of every month at 6 p.m. at the WVU Kanawha County Extension Office. Contact Jessica Hudson at 304-720-9573 for more information.

Register Your Community Garden! Are you a garden leader interested in adding your community garden to our organization?

Register your garden and be added to the list!


Community Gardens

Kanawha County and the Charleston area are home to numerous community gardens. Community gardens are any plot of land that is gardened by a group of individuals. These gardens are a great way to give people access to healthy fresh produce and for the sharing garden knowledge between generations and cultures.

Many of the gardens around Charleston focus on producing food for non-profit organizations that feed people in need. These gardens are excellent places for individuals and groups to volunteer. Manna Meal garden is one such example.

WVU Kanawha County Extension Service provides support to groups wishing to start new community gardens in Kanawha County. Support includes organizational development to encourage long-term sustainability of the garden group and gardening technical assistance.

For community garden assistance, please contact Jessica Hudson.


Kanawha County Master Gardeners

We’re growing

The WVU Extension Master Gardener Program provides people interested in gardening with the opportunity to expand their knowledge and sharpen their skills by taking part in Basic/Level 1 and Advanced/Level 2 training programs that provide in-depth training in various aspects of horticulture.

The program helps residents better understand horticultural and environmental issues through community engagement in gardening and beautification projects at schools, parks, public institutions, community organizations, and locations throughout the state.

Benefits of becoming a WVU Extension Master Gardener

Among the many benefits for getting involved with the WVU Extension Master Gardener program, here are the highest-ranking ones:

  • Getting to know more about gardening and horticulture to expand personal horizons and be able to help others
  • Significant improvements in quality of life, including physical activity, social activity, self-esteem and nutrition
  • Offers opportunities for professional development through continuing training opportunities
  • Meeting like-minded people and engaging in the garden activities you are passionate about
  • Opportunities to assume responsibility
  • Encourages individual independence
  • Gaining respect in the community for your newly developed horticultural skills
  • Flexibility to conduct volunteer work

How do you join?

The first step is to contact your county office and ask about the training program. Under normal circumstances, the WVU Extension Master Gardener Program is offered through our local WVU Extension offices. The training program has been migrated to an online-hybrid platform. You will still need to contact your local WVU Extension office to go over the registration, fees, paperwork and how to get the manuals.

The Spring 2022 training series will run from March 3 until June 30. Classes will be held every Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m.

Over the course of the 18-session online training program, you will receive 54 hours of instruction in a variety of topics, including botany, plant propagation, entomology, pesticides and pest management, plant disease, soil science and nutritional management, turfgrass management, vegetable gardening, tree fruits, small fruit, pruning, landscape design, woody ornamentals, indoor plants, herbaceous plants, garden wildlife management and West Virginia native plants.

From there, pass a test and complete 40 hours of initial volunteer work and you’ll have earned the right to call yourself a WVU Extension Master Gardener.

For more information about Kanawha County's Master Gardener program, call the Kanawha County Extension Office at 304-720-9573.

Agriculture News for Kanawha County

2022 Agriculture Webinar and Dinner Meeting Series

Snow covered cattle in field.

Each winter, WVU Extension brings education, know-how and research right to your community through a series of educational dinner meetings. This year, we're offering a mix of virtual and in-person meeting opportunities across West Virginia for the 2022 agriculture education series!

Participants had the same opportunity to learn from WVU Extension specialists and industry experts about relevant topics to help you improve your own agricultural operations.


Lease Recommendations for Land Owner & Tenants

Ben Goff.

Ben Goff, WVU Extension Agent in Mason and Putnam counties, offers recommendations for landowners and tenants who want to prepare for the upcoming farming season and work to minimize their respective risks.

Goff covers a variety of tips for farmers and landowners regarding farm leases, including:


Register for 2021 Pasture Management Certificate Training

Barn on farm.

The Pasture Management Certificate Training is offered as part of Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College Agricultural Innovation Workforce Trainings & Certifications. 

Instructed by Kevin Shaffer, Ed Rayburn and Ben Goff from WVU Extension, this certification will teach farmers how they can improve sustainability to their operation by improving their pasture management so there is more available forage year-round. 


Natural Resources News for Kanawha County

Register for White Oak in West Virginia Webinar

Hand holding up a leaf from a white oak tree. The leaf is red from fall coloring.

Join us as we dive into the opportunities and challenges related to sustaining and harvesting white oak trees in West Virginia.

Tuesday, February 2


Register for West Virginia Woodland Stewards Seminar

Timber forest.

Join us as we dive into a variety of educational topics and learn more about how we can be better stewards of West Virginia's woodlands.

Tuesday, February 9



Soil Testing

Fillable WVU Soil Testing Form Printable WVU Soil Testing Form How to Complete the Form

Forms are available as PDFs. Download Adobe Adcrobat Reader for free, if needed.


Soil testing is the easiest and most reliable method of assessing a soil’s nutrient status. It provides a basis for recommending the correct amount of lime and fertilizer to apply for crops and pastures. Soil testing also allows an expert to predict the probability of obtaining a yield or growth response to lime and fertilizer application.

How Often to Sample

  • Row crops and hayfields: Every one or two years or when crops are rotated.
  • Permanent pastures: Every 3 - 4 years.
  • Vegetable gardens: Every 1 - 2 years.
  • Lawns and turf: Every 3 - 5 years.

West Virginia University offers free soil analysis to residents. Your county Extension agent can assist you in your effort to collect good soil samples and also to understand the results of analysis.

When to Sample

Soil samples taken in late summer and fall are better than those taken in winter through early spring because they come closer to representing the soil’s nutrient status as it affects crops. Avoid taking samples when soil is wet or frozen because it will be difficult to handle and mix them. Do not take soil samples immediately after applying lime or fertilizer; wait several months or even longer if the weather is dry.

Send samples to a soil testing laboratory well before you need the recommendations. Allow about three weeks for the samples to be processed and the results to be sent to you. Samples sent to the laboratory between March and June may take longer to process. Avoid delays by sending samples between July and December.

Where to Sample

Adequately assess the nutrients that plant roots may encounter in soils, at least five to ten randomly selected soil borings should comprise the composite sample submitted to the laboratory. Five to eight borings will be enough for small areas such as lawns and gardens. If a field is large, subdivide it into 10-acre sections and take at least 20 borings from each 10 acres (or about two to three borings per acre). In West Virginia, it is helpful to divide the field into distinct slope/soil classes and take borings within each class to make a sample. Different slope classes generally have different parent materials and different soils.

Exclude or take separate samples from areas not characteristic of the field, lawn or garden such as wet spots, eroded areas, bare spots, back furrows, field edges. When the field has several soil types or crop conditions, take separate borings for each soil type or slope class and send a separate sample for each. No single sample submitted to the laboratory should represent an area larger than 10 acres.

How to Sample

A shovel rests on the ground in a dirt trough.

Using an auger, shovel or spade and a clean plastic pail or container, take small uniform cores or thin slices from the soil surface to the recommended depth (see the following paragraph). Gently crush the soil and mix it thoroughly, discarding any roots or stones. Do not send wet soil, but air dry it on a clean surface in a shady spot before mailing. Not only does wet soil cost more to mail, but your results also will be delayed because the laboratory must still air dry the sample. Do not heat the sample.

Send at least 1 cup (a handful) of soil to the laboratory in a plastic bag. (The WVU soil test mailer contains a sandwich bag to fill and place in the cloth bag.) Remember to include your name and address and other information on the sheets provided by the laboratory.

How Deep to Sample

Sample the soil to the depth in which your crops are or will be growing.

  • Permanent pastures: Remove organic debris from the soil surface; sample the top 2 inches.
  • Hay fields: Remove organic debris from the soil surface; sample the top 4 to 6 inches.
  • Row crops: Sample the soil to the depth of tillage.
  • No-till crops: Sample the top inch and take a second sample from the depth of 1 to 6 inches.
  • Vegetable gardens and planting beds: Sample the soil to tillage depth.
  • Lawns and turf: Sample the top 2 inches in established lawns and turf and the top 1 to 4 inches in new turf plantings.

How to Complete the WVU Soil Test Submission Form

Soil test submission forms are available at your local WVU Extension office or you can download a copy directly from this website. Two versions of the submission form are available — a print-only version that can be filled out with a pen or pencil OR a digital version that can be completed using a computer or tablet. If possible, it is recommended that you use the digital version of the form because the typed information is easier for our lab staff to read as they enter it into the database.

Using the digital version also allows you to save a copy to your computer or tablet so your customer information will be included for future use. The digital version has drop-down menus to assist the customer with entering their county location and planned crop code. If you are planning to grow an agronomic crop, which includes crop codes C01 through C021, you'll also need to enter the predominant soil series using that drop-down menu.

If you need help, you can learn more by reading our instructions to determine your field's soil series. Determining your predominant soil series and then entering it in the submission form allows the recommendation system to incorporate the soil's productivity potential.

If your planned crop has a crop code starting with H, W or V, then leave the soil series box blank. Soil productivity potentials have not been developed for these crops. 

The WVU Soil Testing Lab provides a basic analysis, including soil pH, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium and degree of phosphorus saturation. Additional analysis is available. These include organic matter determination (OM), electrical conductivity (EC) and a micronutrient package (MN). Select the optional test you need by checking the box on the form, and then, go to the WVU Soil Test Store to make the purchase.

Visit WVU Extension's store onlineOnce you have completed your purchase, record your transaction number on the submission form.

Each soil sample that you wish to have tested requires a separate submission form. This is another benefit to using the digital form. Your customer information will remain the same, so all you'll need to do is edit the sample data information section with sample ID, crop code and size of area, and then, print the form for each sample. Fold the form in half and wrap it around the soil sample in the plastic bag. Use a rubber band to keep the form and the sample bag together. Always identify the soil sample bag with the sample ID in case the form and sample become separated in transit.