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I bought a house recently in an old neighbourhood. I’ve been suspicious of the soil quality so I decided to buy a test kit and check it out. I decided to splurge and buy the high-end $7 kit which tests pH and each of the major nutrients we care about: Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium (N-P-K).

Soil Testing 1

I used my Root Seller trowel and dug 4” down, scooped out ½ cup of soil, plus a little bit extra for the pH test, then went indoors to play scientist.

Soil Testing 2

Once indoors I put some soil into the green-capped tube up to the first line then I (very clumsily) added the powder from the green capsule. Finally, I added distilled water (e.g. bottled water) up to the fifth line marked on the tube, put the cap on and shook the tube for a few seconds. Then.. I waited a minute or two. (Actually, then I made a cup of tea, by which time it was more or less done.)

Soil Testing 3

Ta-dah! It looks from the colour that the pH is on the high-end of 7. Shall we say 7.7?

Next, I turned my attention to the nutrients.

Soil Testing 4

I put the ½ cup of soil into the jug, added 2.5 cups of water, popped the lid on and shook it around until it was nicely mixed. This time I needed to wait 10 minutes for the sediment to settle so I made myself a cup of tea AND a biscuit.

Soil Testing 5

I took out the capsules and filled the tubes with water from the jug. There was still some “stuff” on the top of the water so I dipped the tubes about ½ inch below the surface to get the water. Then, one at a time, I poured the powder from the coloured capsules into the corresponding tubes. A quick shake, and another 10 minute wait.

Soil Testing Six

There we have it

Roughly speaking, I’d say my soil has:
pH 7.7 (Somewhat alkaline)
N High
P Very low
K Very low

Since this is my grass area, my main concern is getting the pH level lower as grass prefers slightly acidic soil over alkaline. The nitrogen level is nice and high, which is what makes the grass green, and the nutrients that feed the dandelion flowers are low so I’m not too worried. A bit of peat moss or some fertiliser is probably enough to fix that. I’ll sprinkle some peat moss, fertilise, water well and test again in a couple of months.

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