Soil Testing

You may have heard of soil testing and wonder if it is necessary for an organic garden.  A soil test from the right lab can be a good guide for how your garden is progressing and what you need to add to get the right balance of nutrients.

We need to determine if you need to test your soil, the proper way to take a soil test and what to do with the results if you are an organic gardener.

As an organic gardener you may be applying compost to your garden each season.  That is great and compost is good for the soil in a lot of different ways.  But, not all compost is the same.  Have you ever thought about having your compost tested for nutrient content?

You see, compost is made up of lots of different materials.  The compost is only as good as the materials that go into it and the method used to make the compost.

Over time you may be creating a shortage of some mineral or other substance, because it is lacking in one of the ingredients in your compost pile.  You have no way of knowing this unless you test the soil or compost, or both.

So, the answer is if you want to have a well balance garden to grow your healthy vegetables in you need to test the soil.

To take a sample of your soil to send to a soil analysis lab you simply need a clean bucket and shovel.  You tools must be clean to keep from contaminating your sample.

Take a slice of earth down to 5 or 6 inches deep from 3 or 4 places in your garden, enough to get a good sample of the soil.  Mix the slices together in the bucket and let dry.  Keep as much debris out of the sample as possible.

The testing lab will supply bags to send in your samples and directions on how to properly take a sample.  They will tell you to use a soil probe, but most people do not have one of those lying around, and a shovel will do the job just fine.

What to do with your sample.  Contact two or three soil testing labs in your area.  You can find those online.  Send your samples to each of the labs.  You will probably get two or three different results in return.

Why?  Each lab has their own way to do the testing and reading of the results.  That’s why I recommend using more than one lab.

When you get the results look over the recommendations.  Unless you find a lab that gives recommendations for organic gardening and farming the test results will talk about the amounts of chemical fertilizers to use.  Do not fear.

The results can be put to good use.  Use your common sense and see which nutrients are low or high.  From this you can decide how to correct the soil fertility organically.

I do recommend you test your soil and, if possible, your compost too.  Just follow the above steps and you can have a good balanced soil to grow your delicious organic vegetables for your family.

Great gardening,


Steve Wisley has been gardening organically for over a quarter of a century.  Gardening is a great way to, not only, grow great tasting, healthy, chemical free food that is good for your family, but gardening is reconnecting with your soul.  It is getting your hands in the stuff that life is based upon, and it can heal some of hurt you feel inside.  

Steve started this blog to guide others in starting and improving their organic garden to produce healthy, nutritious, great tasting food for their family.  Pick up your copy of the booklet “6 Easy Common Sense Tips To Ban Bugs From Your Garden Without Chemicals”.


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