I saw a soil tester that you just stick in the ground like a thermometer, has anyone ever used this? Does it really work? What about the home test kit that looks like a mini chemestry set? How do I test my soil without sending it to an extention center? Thank-you!
Most of the testers I've seen that you stick in the ground will only measure moisture and pH (and I'm not convinced how accurate the pH measurements are for the cheaper ones). If there are ones out there that claim to measure N/P/K or other things I'm not sure I would trust them. If you're good at following directions and want to get a decent gut feel on what's in your garden, I think the test kits are fine, just make sure you test soil samples from several places in your garden. Sending it out for a lab test will be more accurate, but you could start with the kit and see what you find out, then decide if it's worth sending it out for testing.
thank-you. The reason I don't want to send it out is because I have amended the soil in different parts of my yard so I know they would test differently. Also I read that differnet veggies and flowers have different requirements, so I'd like to know what I need to add to their soil. Am I over thinking this, does it really matter that much? Thanks again.
Personally, I don't think you need to test unless you've been having problems growing the things you want to grow. If you've amended your soil so that it's nice and rich then most flowers and veggies would do just fine there, and you can buy fertilizers that were designed for flowers and ones for veggies, so if you use those in the appropriate areas of the garden then you should be fine. I doubt if your soil would have such high (or low) levels of the nutrients that you would want to do something other than use normal type of fertilizers. Knowing your soil pH can be helpful if you want to grow things that need high or low pH soil to do well, but the majority of plants will grow in a range of pH's.
I agree with Ecrane. I wasted money trying both the probe kind and the self test kit and neither one worked for me. Then I paid to have the extension service test it and they told me what I pretty much had guessed that it was too acidic (it's in a pine/oak forest) and that it needed fertilizer...
I amended it extensively with composted manure and organic material and I've not had it tested again but everything seems to be growing well there now.