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How Does Your Garden Grow? Find Out with a Soil Test Kit

How Does Your Garden Grow? Find Out with a Soil Test Kit

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October 2, 2007

The soil test kit assists gardeners with determining the pH level and levels of other minerals in the soil in the garden or where you plan on planting grass.  The pH balance of soil can seriously affect the ability of plants and grass to grow.  It used to be you had to send soil samples to the local cooperative or agricultural agency to get answers, but today anyone can purchase a soil test kit either online or at a local garden department.

A soil test kit is a handy invention for the local gardener.  It doesn't matter whether you grow flowers, vegetables, fruits, sod or decorative bushes, you still have to worry about soil conditions, especially as the seasons change.  If the soil is too acid or doesn't have enough potassium you can waste a lot of money on plants that won't thrive.  When soil does not have the right mineral balance, vegetables plants won't produce or lawns refuse to grow, turn green, and can be easily damaged by harsh weather. 

Soil Test Kit

Most home soil test kits can test for potassium, nitrogen, phosphorous and the pH balance of the soil.  The pH balance tells you if the necessary minerals in the soil are absorbable by the plant.  There are several different kinds of kits, and you can choose the soil test kit that's easiest for you to use.  With some kits you add a chemical to a soil sample and the results of combining the two tells you the levels of the different minerals.

Other home soil test kits are meters with wands you can stick into the soil.  The meter tells you if you can plant in any particular area based on the pH level of the soil.  The soil test kit is easy to use and can save you a lot of money on plants.  In the "old days" you just had to hold your breath and hope the plant grew.

With the soil test kit you can learn whether you need to add minerals to the planting area and during which part of the growing season.  Your local garden store sells lime so you can change the pH balance of the soil.  You can also buy fertilizers with nitrogen, phosphorous or potassium.   There is also a soil test kit available to test soil moisture.  Each testing kit will have a chart you can use to interpret the results of the kit.

You can still send out soil samples to a local cooperative for testing.  This may be necessary if you have a particularly difficult problem growing plants.  The cooperative will help you devise a plan of action to improve the soil.

For more information on soil test kit

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