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If you're starting a new garden or your plants and flowers just aren't growing well despite your best efforts, then having your soil tested probably makes sense. This page shows you how to test your own soil.
To test for alkalinity: Put a few drops of cider vinegar to the soil. If it fizzes, it is alkaline. Use peat moss to reduce alkalinity.
Source: Reader's Digest 1001 Hints and Tips For Your Garden
By Robyn Fed from Hampton, TN
That was one of the best hints I've seen so far, and plan on trying it very soon. Have always been told to take a sample to the local ag office, but never did, but this might be just enough of a test to see what's going on in my gardens.
bbleackley from Saskatchewan
You can make your own kit to test your soil's pH, but keep in mind that it will only give you a general indication of acidity or alkalinity. Most plants grow best in soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.5. it won't be as accurate as getting your soil tested by a certified lab. To make your own pH testing kit, you'll need a couple of glass jars, some vinegar and some baking soda. Start by spooning several tablespoons of soil from your garden into a jar. Take two to three samples of dirt from the topsoil and two to three samples from 3-4 inches deep. Mix all of the dirt together. Now spoon two tablespoons of the mixed soil into each jar and mix in a little bit of water until the soil is just moistened.
In a separate container, mix a tablespoon of baking soda with two tablespoons of water. Pour this into one of the jars containing soil. If the soil starts to bubble or fizz, it may mean your soil is on the acidic side of the pH scale. If it doesn't fizz at all, you may have alkaline soil.
Now add a tablespoon of white vinegar into the second jar containing a mixture of your soil. This time if it fizzes, it may mean your soil is more on the alkaline side of the pH scale.
If your soil is acidic, you will want to increase soil pH. Lime is most commonly used. To lower the pH of alkaline soils, use compost and manure. Remember, changing your soil's pH takes time. The best time to perform a soil test and add amendments to your soil is in the fall.
Im curious myself how you are able to make your own because I have only found kits that you can buy. If you were to make one yourself it seems like it would be a lot of work. The kit prices vary and I bet the results do as well.
Looking foward to some feedback on this topic.
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How do I test my soil? Do I hire someone to do it or is it a DYI project?
By Judy from Riverside, CA
In my state the University has a cooperative extention service that does soil testing. When I contacted them they sent me instructions and a box to put the soil sample in to mail back to them. In a couple of weeks I recieved a print out and information on how to improve the soil. The cost was about 10 dollars.
Look in your telephone directory under County Government and see if your county has a cooperative extension agency. In our county they do free soil testing.
You can go to any Garden center, Home Depot, Lowes or even Walmart or Kmart in the garden center & get a soil test kit. Very simple to do. There are several kits. Some more extensive than others. I just used a basic kit with 1 tube & capsule in it. It lets me know what to do to ammend the soil.Read chart on back of pkg. Good luck!
Contact your local Extension Service. They have a small packet with directions on how to gather your soil for testing. Return the packet with your soil contents and with in a short time you wll receive a reply and how to rememdy your soil. There is a small fee for this packet. jjs w Palm Beach, FL
I was wondering, how do you test the soil in your garden?
Hardiness Zone: 5a
By Joyce wis from Janesville, WI
Click on: "Have a garden question?"
Here's another site with more telephone numbers:
Go to your local Extension Service Office. They have a kit that you can buy (reasonable) and they will tell you how to collect the soil in different areas. You then send the sample away where it will be checked and you will get a reply.When you talk to the extension office-they explain every thing to you. Good luck. If you don't test your soil, how will you know how to amendent it. You will be wasting money, if you add some thing to your soil that is not necessary. Jeannnette
I purchased a premium soil test kit by Ferry Morse. I followed the directions to the letter. I was testing for PH, I came up with a color that is not on the color chart. It came up an olive drab, army green. Any input would be appreciated.
The kit also comes with a filtering device for other tests. I didn't have any luck with it either. Couldn't come up with a color that came close to the chart.
Hardiness Zone: 5a
Call your county extension office. They should be able to help you.
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By testing your soil in your lawn every 3-4 years, you can keep on track if your lawn needs to have nitrogen added or not. Nitrogen is the key nutrient needed for a thick, green lawn.
By Terri H.
Upon getting ready to start your garden, test your soil first, to see if it's dry enough to work. Form a ball with your hand in the soil and squeeze it. If it crumbles and falls apart, it's dry enough to plant. If it remains in a lump, wait a few days for the soil to dry up.
By Terri (06/18/2005)