We all hear that we need to test the soil before planting, but what exactly are we supposed to be testing for? Read on for a look at what soil testing entails and what you should look for in a soil testing kit.
Try as you may, you can’t tell what’s in your soil without a test. A pH test may provide clues on what amendments to use, but only a test that shows you phosphorous and nitrogen levels will let you know how much fertilizer is truly necessary. In addition, testing will also check for contaminants, something you certainly want to know about before you plant to feed your family.
Fall is a great time of year to test soil because it’s when you should begin to add soil amendments to get your garden ready for spring planting. You can pick up a soil testing kit at many gardening stores, but those often only give you pH levels. The best way to go is to order more extensive soil testing through the university extension service or a private laboratory. They only cost about $25, and in addition to the lab report, many labs will provide you with information on how to amend the soil.