Soil testing is something that home-gardeners don’t often do however testing your soil will help guide you towards the correct amendments to add to your soil. When growing a large number of crops intensively (for example a veg plot or allotment) it’s really important that you are working with good soil.
I got my soil testing kit from Hutton Soils who provided me with a very detailed report. The kit comes with detailed instructions on how to collect a soil sample.
- Collect samples of soil from around the garden, I collected about 8. These samples must show an example of the soil as a whole so collecting soil from evenly around the garden is important.
- Place these samples in the plastic bag provided and mix. At this point I removed any large stones and green material that had got mixed in.
- Fill the sample tube provided and return to Hutton Soils.
- After about 14 days I got a full report on my soil via Email.
I’ll share some of the results of the soil test with you here.
Getting The Right Soil pH
This is probably the easiest and most important soil test for home gardeners to do.
My soil pH came back close to perfect, being 7.23. A pH of 5.5 to 7.5 is considered to be good by most standards, adding lime will help lower this to the ideal 6.5 which suits most vegetables.
You don’t need to get your pH exact for every crop but for a good general crop I do think it’s important to be in the 5.5 to 7.5 range.
The organic matter content of my soil came back at 14.2% which is good, 5% is average for most soils. Organic matter is important for nutrients, holding water and for the structure of the soil. It can be improved by adding organic matter, following no-dog principles and growing cover crops.
You can get your soil tested by the James Hutton Institute for a fairly reasonable price. This is really valuable information and will show you what you need to add to your soil to improve it. I’d really recommend this to anyone who is considering doing a soil test. You can send off for a soil testing kit here on the Hutton Soils website.