What’s the secret to a healthy and beautiful garden? Great soil. But how do you know if your garden soil is perfect for growing healthy flowers and vegetables? Through soil test. Although some people send soil samples to the lab for testing, did you know that you can do a simple soil test b yourself? Read on to know how to check the soil for gardening in these easy-to-follow steps.
Soil test is necessary for you to know what is lacking in your garden soil and what additives you need to use to improve its quality. So basically, a soil test will help you determine the soil’s pH level (the relative acidity or alkalinity). This affects how the plants take up nutrients and grow. Soil pH ranges from 1.0 to 14.0, with 1.0 being highly acidic, 14.0 being highly alkaline, and 7.0 being neutral.
So How to Check the Soil for Gardening to Know Its pH Level?
These are the materials that you need to prepare before the procedure. So basically, a soil test will help you determine if the soil is too acidic or too alkaline. If in case the soil is too acidic (too low pH), you need to raise it by adding lime, dolomite limestone, or wood ashes. However, if the soil is too alkaline (too high pH), you need to add horticultural sulfur, composted oak leaves, or pine needles to neutralize its ph.
This procedure is very easy to follow and will only take around twenty minutes. So basically, what you need are:
- Flat Container
- Quart Jar
- Soil Test Kit
- Distilled Water
How to Check the Soil for Gardening in 4 Easy Steps
- Collect Soil Samples
So the first step is to collect soil samples from six different areas in your garden. Using a trowel, you need to dig about 6 inches deep, and this is where you will get your sample from. You only need about a teaspoon of soil from each of the six areas. Remember to remove roots, mulch, or stones from your soil sample.
- Mix Samples
Now, mix the samples you got from all six areas in a quart jar. Make sure to get rid of the large clumps by breaking them into pieces. Do this without touching the soil with your bare hands as the oil from your fingers may affect the pH balance in the soil. To ensure that you get the most accurate result for your soil test, use the trowel instead to break large clumps. Now, mix it well.
- Combine Soil and Testing Powder
Using a spoon, scoop a small portion from your soil sample and put it in the vial that comes with your soil test kit. You only need a very small amount of soil sample. There’s an indicated line in the vial, and you only need to fill up to that scale. Now, take one of the capsules from the soil test kit. Open it carefully and pour the powder into the soil test vial. This is the most important part of this whole how to check the soil for gardening procedures.
- Add Water
Now, for the last part, all you need to do is to add distilled water in your soil test vial. Using distilled water is a must since water with additives may alter the results of your soil test. So for an accurate result, use distilled water.
You can do this by using the dropper that comes with the soil test kit. Carefully fill the vial with water until the indicated line. Now, cover the test kit vial with its lid and carefully shake it to mix everything inside — soil sample, the testing powder, and the distilled water. Do this for around 1 to 2 minutes until you notice the water to take on a color.
The water is supposed to change color, which will allow you to determine the pH level of your soil. Check the guide that comes with the soil test kit to understand the soil’s pH better with relevance to the water’s color. To determine the color of the water better, you should hold the test vial up to the sun.
Grow Your Plants Fast and Healthy
That’s how to check the soil for gardening. Easy, right? Now, remember to tend your garden soil after you get the result. If it’s too low pH (too acidic), add lime, dolomite limestone, or wood ashes on your garden soil. However, if it’s too high pH (too alkaline), add horticultural sulfur, composted oak leaves, or pine needles on your garden soil. That’s how you ensure that your garden soil is all ready to produce healthy and beautiful vegetables and flowers. Know more about garden soils.