For the past month I have wanted to get the soil tested in my yard. I should have done this before planting some of the edibles I planted last week, but the search for a testing lab has proven difficult. In Minnesota, I called the local extension office and I went and picked up a soil sampling kit and they even let me borrow a soil sampling tube. In Ohio, I called the extension and I was given a link to this PDF at the end there is a list of labs with web info and phone numbers. Well, some of the links are out dated, a few of the phone numbers don’t work and it took me over an hour to find out the following information. Since this is a “how to” blog meant to make information (I find difficult to obtain) more accessable to others; here is how you can get your soil tested in 2012.
These places will test your soil:
Soil and Plant Nutrient at Laboratory Michigan State University Extension Service: costs $18 per sample, go to this website to retreive the proper forms: www.css.msu.edu/soiltesting it says you need a soil box but you do not. Put your samples in Ziploc sandwich bags.
Agricultural Analytical Services Laboratory Penn State University: costs $9 per sample for pH, acidity, Mehlich 3 phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and magnesium and lime. Extra costs are involved if you want to test for other elements. Here is their website: http://www.aasl.psu.edu/Submissionforms_all.html Again send your samples in a Ziploc bag.
CLC Labs in Westerville, OH: Phone #614-888-1663 Call and the nice assistant there will send you a kit (with as many sample bags as you request) and a price list. $22 will get you a full work up + recommendations. Less intensive tests range from $18-$9.
Finally, you can use a spade to dig 6 inches down in your soil or you can use a soil sampling tube. Since I couldn’t borrow one this year I just ordered mine off Amazon for around $25 (includes shipping). I prefer a sampling tube as it takes a better sample than a spade. Click here for the one I ordered from Amazon.
You can also buy DIY soil tests on Amazon and at most garden centers. Since this is my first year with the garden I am going to use a lab, then purchase a DIY test from the garden center and see how the results match up. One more plus of going with a lab is that they will send you recommendations on how to adjust your soil to make it optimal for your garden, lawn, ornamentals, fruit trees, etc…
**If you have never had your soil tested it is probably the most important thing you can do for your garden and your yard it can help you decide if you need to amend it or save yourself the expense of amending. It can also determine if you have contaminants in you soil which could be harmful to you and your plants. Healthy soil = Healthy plants = Healthy YOU!