Testing Garden Soil

LaMotte Garden Guide Kit, EL
LaMotte Soil Sample Test Kit 5670-01

Testing our garden soil is very important to us. If you have never done this you may find it really interesting and helpful. We purchased a LaMotte Soil Testing Kit discovered on the Burpee.com seed website one afternoon. This is a good soil test set for us. It allows multiple tests and comes with absolutely everything you need to get started. Additionally, it includes “how-to” booklets explaining exactly how to perform soil tests correctly.

  • Garden Guide Manual
  • Soil Handbook
  • A Study of Soil Science

When our garden got bigger the “single-use” test kits were not very helpful. Because we needed to be able to test more than a single area. Using this kit is similar to doing an experiment in chemistry class. It is a lot of fun but requires careful observance of instructions to be safe. The chemicals in this kit are available for purchase to restock the kit after you use up what’s in the kit. Check out www.forestry-suppliers.com for more information on supplies.

Getting Soil Samples

soil sample 10
gathering soil sample 10
soil sample 7
gathering soil sample 7
soil sample 06
gathering soil sample 6

After reading the instruction booklets, we labelled 10 zip lock baggies to put soil in. Then marked 10 popsicle sticks with the numbers from 1-10. Out to the garden, we collected 10 soil samples from different areas, leaving a popsicle stick marking where we took what samples.

Testing Preparations

dry soil samples
drying soil samples

Afterwards, laying out 10 paper towels (1-10) so the damp soil samples could dry out overnight.

Look at how much lighter the soil looked the next morning. Next, we smashed any lumps and clumps in the soil with a large glass, also removing any organic matter we noticed. The soil samples are ready to test, so we re-read all the information about how to do it before we began.

By the way, don’t underestimate the time required to do the test on the soil samples. We had anticipated spending about half a day running tests on the ten soil samples but, it actually took us all day long.

Author: artist

An artist with realistically surreal colorful style in the Inland Pacific Northwest, Valerie Woelk.

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