Ready To Garden: A Guide To 4 Soil Tests

Ready To Garden: A Guide To 4 Soil Tests

Allison Verdoorn
Apr 26, 2011

As we begin to plant our summer garden it is time once again to do some simple and inexpensive tests to get our soil ready for planting. A little time spent now to ready the soil will mean for better yields all summer long. Check out the 4 tests we'll be doing and share how you test your soil after the jump.

Colleen Vanderlinden from has put together a great tutorial for getting to know your soil in 4 simple tests. The tests include:

1. The Squeeze Test: "One of the most basic characteristics of soil is its composition. In general, soils are classified as clay soils, sandy soils, or loamy soils. Clay is nutrient rich, but slow draining. Sand is quick draining, but has trouble retaining nutrients and moisture. Loam is generally considered to be ideal soil because it retains moisture and nutrients but doesn't stay soggy."

2. The Percolation Test: "It is also important to determine whether you have drainage problems or not. Some plants, such as certain culinary herbs, will eventually die if their roots stay too wet."

3. The Worm Test: "Worms are great indicators of the overall health of your soil, especially in terms of biological activity. If you have earthworms, chances are that you also have all of the beneficial microbes and bacteria that make for healthy soil and strong plants."

4. The pH Test: "The pH (acidity level) of your soil has a large part to do with how well your plants grow. pH is tested on a scale of zero to fourteen, with zero being very acidic and fourteen being very alkaline. Most plants grow best in soil with a fairly neutral pH, between six and seven. When the pH level is lower than five or higher than eight, plants just won't grow as well as they should."

Find out how to perform each test and what your results mean at

(Image: Front Range Food Gardener)

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