12 Best Soil Test For 2019 & 2020
We know choosing the best soil test kit is not as easy as ABC. You'd need help deciding on the best soil test kit to buy.
But, never worry! This article is going to help you with that. We also packed it with some helpful tips on knowing why you need to test your soil.
We also cover the many different ways of going about this.
Hopefully, this gets you closer to your Green thumb!
Green thumb Gardener Best Soil Kit
Why Should You Test Your Soil?
The soil is the life blood of any vegetable or flower garden. So please take heed of this advice.
Getting this right is really the first step in having a successful garden.
Having too much or too little of one particular macronutrient or a really acidic vs neutral pH can mean the difference between a mediocre garden and a bountiful one.
Soil Samples for a New Garden
Testing your soil is really important step to do when you first establish a garden. It is important to know where you currently stand with your soil’s composition.
Ok, so this is a big deal, but why is it important.
Let’s keep this simple. Each plants require different nutrients and pH levels. For the most part having a balanced soil nutrient and pH is pretty much a good base to start with.
You may test your soil and find that it is too acidic for growing tomatoes, but it could be perfect for blueberries. You have a few options once you have this data.
- Do nothing and look at either container gardening, raised bed or sampling a different spot
- Plant the types of flowers, plants, or vegetables that are ideal for the current soil’s levels of pH and nutrients
- Adding supplements to your soil to get your desired levels of pH and nutrients
Each one has its own advantages and disadvantages. In each case, though you have some data to help you make this decision.
The other option is not to take any samples and take a roll of the dice. Sometimes, this may work out and sometimes it may not.
Soil Testing for Established Gardens
It is still important to make sure you are testing your soil at least every other year. In fact, I would still recommend that you test it for the first 3 years if you recently started a new garden.
This will give you the best results so you know what works for your area. Then once, you dial this in with your soil, you can test it every other year.
What Should You Test Your Soil For?
This is a loaded question because there is an almost endless amount of things you can test your soil for. We are here to make it simple for you though, so take notes on this one.
The most helpful data for most home gardeners are knowing the following:
- pH levels - These levels run from 0 to 14. 7 is neutral, reading below 7 are acidic and above 7 are alkaline. 5.5 to 7 is a typical good range for most plants.
- N (Nitrogen) - *This is a still a difficult reading since the nitrogen is locked up in organic matter. It is not always available for root uptake as needs to breakdown.
- P (Phosphorus)
- K (Potassium)
There are also other secondary macronutrients and micronutrients that you could also test for, but these are the ones you definitely want to include.
These results will give you the most complete information to get your ideal garden soil. You have a few options to help you get this data that we will explore in the next section.
Here are a few other macro & micro nutrients that you could also test for:
- Ca (Calcium) - usually found in limestone
- Mg (Magnesium) - limestone is also a good source for this
- S (Sulfer)
- Fe (Iron)
- Mn (Manganese)
- Cu (Copper)
- Z (Zinc)
- B (Boron)
The important distinction here is that you don’t want to get lost in paralysis analysis with soil testing.
Just stick with the main ones. You could still test the secondary ones, but don’t get caught up if trying to fix those.
Soil Analysis | How To Test Your Soil for Gardening
You want to ensure the best results for this so there are few things you want to ensure that you do no matter how your test your soil.
A soil sample should be taken from at least 2 sections of your garden for most average sized gardens. You may want more if you garden is really large since the soil tests results may be different.
Here are the steps that you want to do:
- Pick 2 spots in your garden to take soil samples
- Wash your garden shovel to remove any other soil residue
- Clear off the dig spot of any top level debri, compost, or mulch
- Dig at least 6 inches to 8 inches deep and remove this soil
- Place the soil on a clean surface to air dry for at least 24 hours
- Once the soil is dry, remove a portion of soil and put in a plastic bag
Once you have your samples, you can either send it away to have tested by a local soil laboratory or run some of your own tests using one of the recommended soil test kits.
Your own test kits will have the optimal ways of running each test, so follow those recommendations.
Either way, knowing this information will help with planning for your garden.
Soil Testing Methods
Of course, there are many different ways that you can test your soil. We will look at the different ways that you can test your soil to help you narrow down the best options for you.
There are 2 main ways that you can go about this.
- Do it yourself at home
- Send it away to a laboratory.
Our recommendation is to test your garden soil using both methods. We recommend to send soil samples to a laboratory at least every 2-3 years.
You also want to take your own readings every year.
Doing this combination helps to make sure your test kits are also in a good range of accuracy when you compare the results of the same samples.
Here are a few other reasons why you need to do both:
- The basic soil kits are not super accurate as a laboratory. Still helps to get you in the range and better than not knowing
- You probably are not a highly trained soil testing expert. We geek out on the science and data, but we don’t have the really expensive & technical knowledge to get super accurate readings.
- A laboratory test will take some time, sometimes as much as a month when everyone is sending in samples. Your own test kit can give you results almost instantly.
Different Soil Testing Equipment | Home Test Kits
It is funny as I was doing some further research on these methods for you and came across a page from a manufacturer that had at least 20 different types of soil testing equipment.
That is how it usually goes when you get into this scientific data stuff.
We will keep it simple & light here because that is how we do it here on Green thumb. Don’t get caught up in paralysis analysis and just get your hands dirty.
We will narrow down the different types to:
- Digital Testers
Full transparency is that I own several of these different kits because geeking out on soil is just what I like.
Probe Soil Testers
These types of soil testers involve you sticking some metal rods attached to a reading instrument. The most common tests are for pH.
We use these for a really quick reading to make sure things are still optimal. You don’t want to rely on these as your sole test to give you the most accurate data.
Fortunately, these probes don’t cost much and still something to keep in your garden tool belt. Some are better than others.
Digital Soil Testers
Digital soil testers usually are typically found as instruments that you add a small sample of soil and possibly a chemical to react with it.
Sometimes these are actually done by inserting directly into the soil almost like a pen. These types of tests are also good for a quick reading.
These types of soil kits generally cost a little more than probes, but are usually more accurate.
Chemical Soil Testers
These are by far the best way to get a more accurate soil analysis. Possibly a hybrid method of using chemicals with a digital soil tester is best.
These soil test kits will have you add a sample of the soil to a test tube and add a few drops of chemicals. You would repeat this for the different readings you are looking for.
These have been pretty close to the results we get from professional laboratory tests. Not as accurate, but good enough to trust in between professional testing.
Professional Soil Testing | Garden Soil Testing Near Me
Professional soil testing will give you the best and most accurate readings for your garden soil. They own the best equipment that is available and spent countless hours using it.
You still want to ensure you are sending in multiple samples of soil. The reason is that there will be a variance between different areas of your garden.
You will also receive recommendations of what you can do to improve your soil. You can use the data you get from the different areas to make your necessary amendments.
We recommend that you send these away to a local extension to make it easy for you. Most charge a very nominal fee for testing.
Do a search for “Garden Soil Testing Near Me” to get the places near you.
Best Soil Test Kit Reviews 2019 & 2020
Here are some of the kits we have reviewed to help you get the best one for your needs. The real takeaway here is to find something that you can use regularly each and every year.
We tried to cover all the bases to give you some options for everyone's budget.
In this list are different types of soil kits that are presently topping the charts in the market...
Anyways, without wasting so much of your time, let’s get into the soil kits, ASAP!
The best thing, as a gardener, is having tools that have multiple functions. Soil pH Meter is one of those tools you can add to your collection. This product can be used for three different functions.
First, check the moisture level in the soil. Second, to check if your plant is getting sufficient light from your grow light or directly from the sun. The third is the PH test, which helps you to check and control the PH level of the soil.
It's pretty easy to use. It can also be used indoors and outdoors, whether in your home garden or vegetable garden outside.
Some soil testers may require you to constantly buy batteries just to keep them working. However, with Atree Soil PH Meter, you don’t need batteries, just plug and conduct your test.
- 3-in-one functions
- Smart structure
- Easy to use
- Excellent customer service
- Precise & Accurate meter
- Long and weak probes
- Doesn’t retain measurements
Environmental Concept’s 1663 Professional Soil Test Kit is a liquid-based kit that both beginners and professionals can use.
It has a sturdy frame and can be used for both indoor and outdoor growing. Included in its pack is a PH preference list for 100 plants, as well as useful tips on how to grow and alter soil conditions.
Why it's the 80 tests is because it has all the components necessary for 80 tests. 20 for Nitrogen (N), 20 for Phosphorus (P), 20 for Potassium (K) and finally, 20 for PH.
However, you may not exactly get 80 tests as the product review says. It might have just been done to mislead buyers.
But, above all. It’s actually worth the buy.
- Easy to use
- Compact for indoors and outdoors
- Needs further evaluation for longer use
BUY FROM AMAZON: Environmental Concepts 1663 Professional Soil Test Kit with 80 Tests
This soil test kit tests for PH, Potassium (K), Phosphorus (P), Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg), Manganese (Mn), Iron (Fe), Zinc (Zn), and Boron (B).
You might not exactly get 100% scientific accuracy on all the tests, but instead of impatiently waiting for a test result from the lab, you can just easily use this DIY soil test kit to check your soil.
Included are custom scientific bits of help and tips on the best fertilizer blends for your vegetable garden.
The macronutrient panel also provides details on health, composition, trace elements and issues of the soil you’re testing.
- Durable and long-lasting
- Fairly Easy to use
- Great customer service
- Results can vary
- Inadequate usage instructions
LaMotte Garden Kit is a quite simple tester. The kit could be used to test your soil before planting. It could also be used in all the growing processes too.
The kit is useful for both science education and, very importantly, your garden analysis.
Included in the kit are rapid test procedures, laminated color charts, and instructions with useful diagrams.
It could be used to test for Nitrogen (N), Potassium (K), Phosphorus (P) and soil PH, with 15 tests each for nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, and a total of 30 tests for PH.
You’re assured of 100% satisfaction. In any case, you have the opportunity to return the kit for replacement or refund if you experience any issues with your purchase.
They also have great customer service and can be contacted every weekday via email, phone call or live chat, from 8 in the morning to 8 at night.
- Useful for both science teaching and gardening
- Accurate analysis
- Favorable manufacturer return or refund policy
- Weak measuring spoon
BUY FROM AMAZON: LaMotte Garden Kit
Bluelab Soil pH Pen is a quite handy soil tester. You can now easily monitor and regulate your soil without having to go through unnecessary stress.
Bluelab Soil pH Pen can be used to measure pH level or the temperature of Solutions, grow media and, of course, soils.
This pen is completely waterproof. It has a quite sturdy dibber that can be dipped into soils for the test.
It has a measurement range of 0.0 to 14.0 for pH and 0 to 50˚C or 32˚ to 122˚ F for temperature. Resolution for pH is 0.1 pH. For temperature, it is 1˚ C or 1˚ F. The pen’s testing accuracy is at 25˚ C/77˚ F ± 1˚ C/ ± 2˚F. Operation temperature; 0 to 50˚C, 32˚ to 122˚ F.
Other features include a backlit LCD, pH calibration indicator, low battery warning, and hold and auto-off functions.
- Sturdy frame
- Easy to use
- Accurate & precise analysis
- Not recommended for heavy usage
- Needs battery to work
This is one of the simplest to use soil testers in the market.
It is a professional soil test kit that comes with simple soil recommendations for synthetic and organic nutrient products.
It provides full reports of soil pH ad 14 different nutrients, among which are Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Aluminum, Sulfur, and Potassium.
The kit also includes every necessary component and all the information you need to get it working.
- Very easy & simple to use
- Tests for 14 different nutrients
- Comes with recommendations for synthetic and organic
- Non-detailed results
BUY FROM AMAZON: Soil Savvy - Soil Test Kit
This is one of the simplest to use soil testers in the market. #gardentips #prepper #prepping
Knowing the necessary information for the best maintenance of your home garden entails that you also have all the necessary tools needed for the healthy growth of your plants.
K KERNOWO Soil Test Kit is one soil tester you must have in your collection.
K KERNOWO Soil Test Kit, Atree Soil pH Meter, is also a compact 3-in-one tester that can be used to check for moisture, light, and PH.
It has highly sensitive probes that immediately detect soil sense changes.
It then transfers its details to the conductor which immediately displays the accurate analysis for your soil.
Heavy tools are an additional stress to your gardening. That’s why you need portable and lightweight equipment to use to reduce stress. K KERNOWO Soil Test Kit is lightweight and compact for outdoors and indoor usage.
As long as you keep it clean always, it’s going to last you for a lifetime.
You also have a return or repayment policy within 12 months of purchase, if you have any issues with the product.
- Easy to assemble
- Personal customer support
- Short Probes
- Relatively tiny conductor
This is a somewhat unique type of soil tester in its functions and design. Unlike many other soil kits, this has a one-button testing feature.
You can easily read the moisture level by pressing the button and checking the color of the light: blue for high, green for moderate and red for low.
In addition to its unique features is the auto monitor and power saved. The flashlight flashes red every 5 minutes if the humidity is below 15%.
It's water-proof and anti-corrosion. It can be left in the soil for long. Included in the kit are plant maintenance directions that you use to improve the growth of your plants.
There's 24/7 customer support for any request, complaints or inquiries you may have.
However, it might take time for you to get your head around how to use this tester. It requires that you follow some quite complex instructions.
- Affordable and economical
- 2 year warranty
- Water proof
- 24/7 customer service
- Complex to use
- Tiny micro LEDs
- The battery compartment is not water proof
This meter doesn't come alone, it comes with its squad if you know what I mean.
This soil kit has other handy tools needed for your home garden!
It's worth its money is gold, comes with 8 pieces of Bonsai tools; a folding scissors, stainless-steel tweezers, 1 pruning scissors, 1 wooden rake, 1 X wooden cleaning brush, and 2 wooden spades.
Want to avoid the regular troubles that come with using soil kits? You can use this, you don't even need a battery to power and use it.
It has a beautiful form. The interesting thing about it is that it's very easy to use. Whether you want to use in your vegetable garden indoors or outdoors, It's designed to work in any condition and space.
- Handy and Easy to Use
- Can be used both indoors and outdoors
- Beautifully designed
- Comes with other important garden tools
- Battery Powered
You should go for the Bluelab PENGTB Growers Toolbox if you want a portable soil kit that would be extremely easy to maintain.
This toolbox is finely designed, with a structure that makes it easy for you to maintain so that it lasts you for a lifetime!
This is also the relative best for beginners who are just trying out with a vegetable garden. Its simple crop management system makes it quite easy for you to handle.
There are two different pens for this tool; Bluelab ppm and Bluelab pH, for measuring the number of nutrients available and the nutrients uptake in your plants' soil.
You can also measure the solution temperature so you can create the best environment for your plant.
- Has two pens; for ppm and PH
- Complicated to use
- The pH pen might start to malfunction later
This is one of the best soil kits to use to measure temperature and pH. It’s the best option if you want something to help you manage the growth of your plants and check for the nutrient uptake and overall plant health of your plants.
It uses a battery and has a backlit LCD.
This is a very good soil kit for sprouting plants.
- Easy to use
- Compact and handy
- Long term reliability
- The pH pen may start to malfunction after a while
This is a quite fascinating soil kit. Why? It has a unique structure.
The conductor looks like a knob, which makes it relatively easy to use or handle.
It's not battery-operated.
However, electricity is needed, just plug and read. It has a fast pH and moisture reading too.
- Easy to use
- No battery required
- Fast Reading
- Might not as accurate
Everyone knows all of the elements of nature are essential to life. Without any one of them, life would be extremely difficult for us, and certainly all other living things, especially our plants.
Our plants need a sufficient amount of water, light (invariably gotten from sun or indoor grow lights), air (oxygen and carbon dioxide), and more importantly, earth (that is, the soil they are grown with) to thrive.
And, this is why soil kits were invented. These test kits can be used to check for a lot of things. Among them is the nutrient value of the soil that you’re using.
This is why, before purchasing one off the counter or from an online store, you need to be sure you are getting one with the best features or specifications first.
LEARN MORE: 12 Best LED Grow Lights For Vegetables
Why do I need soil kits?
The soil, especially, the soil type, is one important thing to note before growing any plant. Using the wrong soil type for your plants can affect and stunt their growth in the long run.
They invariably need enough of the nutrients they can get from the soil to grow well until they eventually blossom.
This is why you need the best soil test kit to measure your plants' soil now and then for nutrients value, moisture, temperature, media levels, and so on.
Just make sure you have an optimum plant production from sprouting down to the time they blossom eventually.