Ask a Question forum: Soil Testing

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Name: Jared Nicholes
Post Falls, Idaho
Feb 14, 2016 1:55 PM CST

I will be getting some soil for my garden and my grandmas garden (she asked me to build one for her,) and I was wondering, how and where do you get a soil test to find out how much fertilizer you need?

Any help will be greatly appreciated

Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
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Feb 14, 2016 2:08 PM CST
It looks like the university has a county extension agency, with an outreach program in your town. I would suggest you get in touch with someone there. They will probably send you a small packet explaining how to take your soil sample. You mail it back to them and they will analyze the soil and let you know the composition of it. They will offer suggestions as to how to amend the soil, if necessary.
Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Feb 14, 2016 2:11 PM CST
I just recently got a soil test done at Logan Labs in OH (Nov '15). It cost $25 plus shipping, I got my results in less than a week and they were emailed to me. You can pay extra for recommendations or you can do a worksheet yourself if you're a numbers person. You can check them out online and see if they do the testing you want.
Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Feb 14, 2016 2:12 PM CST
You may want to check out the soil remineralization thread over in the permaculture forum.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Feb 14, 2016 5:39 PM CST
Jared -- I would enthusiastically recommend checking with your county extension agency! They have a wealth of information about gardening, as well as doing soil testing. Long, long ago, when I was a new gardener, I collected a huge stack of bulletins from our local extension office; at that time they were free, there may be a nominal charge for them now. (Of course, back then we had no internet and no ATP to turn to...) Thumbs up Thumbs up
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Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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Feb 14, 2016 5:53 PM CST
Yikes!! $25...
The county extension usually does the soil test for less than $5. Thumbs up
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Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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Feb 14, 2016 6:07 PM CST
Our County Extension tests soil samples for $5 per test and all their info is free so, it's certainly worthwhile to contact them. Since you need more than one test done, Jared, I'd recommend you go to Home Depot or Lowe's and buy a soil test kit. They're usually around $10 and will test 10 samples of soil, so you can test your soil in different areas, and your grandma's soil too. It will tell you the pH of your soil as well as the macronutrient levels.

But for growing things like vegetables and heavy feeders like your giant pumpkins you will need to keep adding fertilizer anyway because the plants will use up what is naturally in the ground very quickly. You'll also be watering generously every day during the hot months which leaches the soluble nutrients out of the soil. It would be very informative for you to test your soil before you plant, and again at the end of the season after you pull out your plants, to see just how much nutrient is left.

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Name: Sally
central Maryland
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Feb 15, 2016 6:37 AM CST
When comparing costs, watch for just what info you get from the test. Could be simple NPK and pH, could be more. My Southern States store does a free quick test in spring, or did once, just the very basic.
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Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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Feb 15, 2016 8:37 AM CST
I've never tested soil, just add compost. After a few yrs of building up the soil this way, there should be no need for fertilizer. I don't use any, except to make compost tea and banana water (pureรฉd banana put into water given to thirsty plants.)

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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
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Feb 15, 2016 4:51 PM CST
The U of Idaho "Extension" office has many links related to soil testing. It looks like Ada county makes it easier than other counties, but you can get contact info for your county, then call someone local and ask them what's the least expensive way to get a soil test done. (Your local extension agent if a good person to maker a friend of.)

Ada County also has many free clinics.
University of Idaho soil test: $35.00 (Our office provides soil test kits; the test is sent by the customer to the U of I.)

How to collect a representative soil sample:

USING soil test results:

UI Extension Home Page

Extension Office Contact Info for your county:

County: Kootenai County Extension Office
Address: 1808 North 3rd. Street
Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814-3407
Phone: (208) 446-1680
Fax: (208) 446-1690
Web Address:

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