The Ultimate Guide to Soil Test Kits


When you’re setting out to grow your very own organic garden, the first thing you should know is the lay of the land and the soil. The soil determines everything – what kind of plants can grow, the acidity, fertility and so on. This is where soil test kits come in handy. Whether ready-made or self assembled DIY style, a comprehensive soil kit helps you analyze all the important aspects of the soil like the acidity, moisture and light intensity. Proper soil analysis and care can save you a lot of effort and keep you on the right track while planning out your garden. Here are some things you should know about soil test kits before setting off on your gardening endeavor:

Acidity of the Soil

The acidity of soil is determined by the pH level. A pH level of soil ranges from 1 to 14 where a pH level of 1 is highly acidic and 14 is highly alkaline. A pH level of 7 means that the soil is neutral. Maintaining a good balance of pH levels is essential for the nutrient uptake in the roots of your plants. Extreme pH levels prevent the plants from absorbing essential minerals like calcium and phosphorus irrespective of the concentration of the minerals in the soil. A DIY pH analyzer available at most nurseries helps you analyze the acidity of the soil by following some simple set of instructions.

Moisture – How Wet is Wet Enough?

The moisture level of the soil is also a key factor to know what kinds of plants you can grow. Flowering plants, vegetables and perennials require wetter, loamy soil whereas arid plants like cacti and prickly pears require drier sandy soils. A good soil kit should contain a moisture analyzer to gauge the moisture level of the soil. Moisture analyzers can be simple analog meters or highly accurate electronic, digital meters and vary depending on cost. A common mistake while gardening is over or under watering the soil. This can be easily avoided by proper use of a moisture analyzer.

Light Intensity Meters

Different plants need different amount of light for healthy growth. Apart from the direct sunlight falling on the plants, the permeability of soil also determines the amount of light that the lower parts of the plant receive. A light intensity meter is a handy tool that lets you gauge the amount of natural light that the soil receives. They ensure that your plants are not over exposed to the sun or light deprived.

Combining it All

If you are a big fan of minimalism and brevity, you could do away with an elaborate soil testing kit by integrating all the above aspects into one. A 4-way-analyzer is the perfect candidate for this job. A 4 way analyzer lets you gauge the pH level, moisture, light intensity and nitrogen and mineral levels all at one go. They really simplify your work and are ideal while starting off with a small scale organic garden. Depending on which test you want to perform, you can choose the appropriate settings on the analyzer. These analyzers are eco friendly and some variants even operate without any batteries.

Getting to know your soil is the first logical step to take before planting a garden. An efficient soil testing kit lets you analyze the soil by yourself without the need of any experts or laboratories. Soil test results also tell you what type of fertilizers you need to apply and in what quantities. These devices make gardening a fun filled and self reliant experience.