Testing Soil

How to Test Soil

shovel for testing soilTesting Soil

Testing soil and adjusting it, will give your plants the best possible conditions for growing and thriving.

You'll get healthier, greener plants, and bigger and better flowers if the soil is ideal, but first you need to learn how to test soil.

If you're not sure where to get your soil tested, contact your local county extension agent, and they will help you.

A soil test for PH, Salinity, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, and even micro nutrients make all the difference to your plants!


How to Take a Soil Test

Items you will need for testing soil;

  • Plastic pail
  • Trowel
  • Shovel
  • Pint size (heavy duty) Zip lock bags


Testing Soil  ~ Step by Step

On a day when the soil is relatively dry,... (You can't get samples from wet soil)

  • In the middle of the garden, dig a tidy hole around 8-12" deep,(the hole should be roughly a tad wider than your shovel)
  • Slice off a clean slab of soil around an inch thick from one side all the way down. (Keep this on the shovel.)
  • Using the trowel, scrape away both edges of the slab, leaving a middle section or (core)in the center that is roughly one inch thick and wide.

This (core) section gets deposited in the pail.

Move on to another section of the garden. Repeat.....

If your garden is a large area, you should take at least four of these cores from different areas.

  • Thoroughly mix the soil in the pail, removing any rocks, or foreign objects.
  • From this soil mixture, you will fill the zip lock bags. Labs differ in their requirements of how much soil they need to do the soil testing.- Check first.
  • Label the bag with your name and address.

If you've been sent a form to fill out, answer all questions as best you can, otherwise, write down what kind of plants you are growing, and tell them that you garden organically. (If you do....)

Your test might take up to five days to complete.

The lab should send recommendations about any specific problem you have with your soil.

The cost of the test can range from $10 for a basic test, to up to $25 or more, depending on who does the testing.

shovel fork in dirt

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