As a professional gardener, I know the importance of soil testing for a successful garden crop. Well, I was a “first-time gardener” 10 years back. Those days, I didn’t know much about soil testing and the Soil Test Kit, which is the best option available in the market for accurate soil testing. Why is soil testing important? What are the DIY methods for soil testing? What are the disadvantages of DIY testing methods and advantages of the Soil Test Kit? Let’s discuss all these critical factors in this article. Are you a first-time gardener? Then, you will benefit from reading this article! Enjoy!
If you ask from experts gardeners, “what is the key factor for a successful garden crop;” all of them will give you the same answer, “it is the soil.” Yes, the soil is the critical factor to get right for a successful garden, no matter the plant type. It is the platform that your plants grow on. Water, mineral nutrients, and oxygen — plants absorb all these essential factors from the soil. As mentioned, a Soil Test Kit is the best option available for soil testing.
What factors should you test during soil testing?
Well, many critical factors are there to be tested by manual testing methods (for example, the soil texture.) Just take a handful of soil and run your fingers through it. Too much sand present in the soil makes it less suitable for plant growth. Also, too much clay present in the soil makes it less suitable for plant growth. But why? Well, too much sand presence reduced the soil’s ability to hold water. Clay, on the other hand; hold too much water, which is harmful to plant growth. Your Soil Test Kit won’t help you much in these cases.
Under the surface test
Well, we are talking about the soil surface. Did you know that a thick clay layer can be there under the soil surface (many feet below the surface?) This thick clay layer may hold too much water, which is as said earlier; harmful for plant growth. Fixing this issue is a challenge for a first-time gardener. Don’t get discouraged though! Dig several holes (3-4 feet deep.) You will have to dig several holes in the garden depending on the size of it. Break the clay layer with a metal rod so water can drain through the holes.
OK, let’s come to the main topic of the article now! Soil testing with a Soil Test Kit. Other than water and oxygen, plants need essential mineral nutrients to survive. These essential nutrients act as food for plant growth. We can’t survive without food, so the plants can’t either. The soil pH is the factor that determines available nutrients in the soil. In other words, plants only thrive at correct pH levels. Anyway, the ideal pH level may vary depending on the plant type you plan to grow in your garden crop. As you know, the power of hydrogen is denoted in short form as pH. Why is measuring soil pH with a Soil Test Essential? Depending on the soil pH value; the plants can absorb essential nutrients. Wrong nutrient levels hinder nutrient absorption, resulting in plant death or growth deficiencies. Can you afford it is a gardener? I don’t think so.
Why a Soil Test Kit?
As mentioned, certain plants only thrive at a correct pH range. A point one change in the pH range can affect plants negatively. Which means an accurate pH measuring method is critical for gardening, and that is where the professional Soil Test Kit comes in. Did I scare you by using the word “Professional” here? Don’t worry! You can buy a professional test kit for $30 today (very cheap, doesn’t it?) OK, we must compare digital and non-digital test kits here. Non-digital test kits come with color-matching strips, chemical bottles, and colored papers for color-matching. Complexity is the downside of non-digital testing kits. I mean, a first-time gardener may find it difficult to use it accurately. Digital meter or the pH meter/tester is the easiest option available on the market for first-time gardeners. Inserting the probe into the soil sample — that is all you have to do with a pH meter. But, non-a digital Soil Test Kit comes with additional features such as determining the availability of each essential nutrient in the soil, where a pH meter can only give you accurate pH readings.
DIY soil testing methods
These methods were used by the gardeners before the era of the pH meter and Soil Test Kit. DIY methods only give you a rough idea of soil pH. Anyway, you might find these DIY methods handy for day-to-day gardening. Vinegar and baking soda soil test: Take soil samples from different places in your garden and put them into a big bucket (one cup from each place is fine.) Mix all the soil samples in the big bucket. Fill two spoonfuls of the mixed samples into a different container and add 1/2 cup of vinegar. Adding vinegar to the soil causes fizzes means you have an alkaline soil (pH between 7 and 8.) Well, you can perform the same test for individual soil samples, which is a more accurate method (the soil in your garden is not the same everywhere.) What if it doesn’t fizz? Take two spoonfuls of the mixed sample and add distilled water. Now, add 1/2 cup of baking soda. If adding baking soda causes fizzes; your soil is acidic (pH between 5 and 6.)
DIY soil testing methods can be used to get a rough idea of acidity or the alkalinity of the soil in your garden. Anyway, these testing methods won’t give you accurate readings up to decimal values, which critical for certain plant type growth. And, that is why I love the Soil Test Kit over DIY soil testing methods.
Some final words
Understanding the importance of a rich soil is essential to becoming a professional gardener. Soil preparation is not rocket science, but for a first-time gardener; it may be a big challenge. This is where the Soil Test Kit comes in. Tests kits give instant and accurate pH readings, no matter the soil type. You can buy your test kit for $30 online today.
Soil preparation — you should start it as early as possible because it can take months to prepare the soil for a garden crop (especially, if it the first time.) Depending on the readings you get from the Soil Test Kit, add fertilizers.