Keep Your Garden Thriving with Periodic Soil Tests

A simple, periodic soil test is as necessary to growing a thriving garden as regular oil changes are to running a car. Soil tests can give you insight on possible nutrient deficiencies, acidity levels, organic matter percentage, and texture. As part of its Rapitest® product line, Luster Leaf® offers fast and easy to use soil test kits.

Before collecting soil for your test, it’s important to note that using clean utensils and avoiding use of your bare hands will make for a more accurate reading. To conduct a proper soil test, you will need to collect soil from various areas of your garden, taken from at least four inches down – this is the depth that most plants’ roots reach. Next, thoroughly mix and crumble the samples from the different areas, being careful to discard any sticks, stones, or debris.

Once you have completely mixed your soil samples, spread the soil on a clean baking pan to air dry for a day. You are now ready to use your Rapitest® pH test. Pour your soil sample into the test chamber, up to the soil line. Then, open the green capsule and pour its contents into the test chamber. Add distilled water up to the water line, replace the cap and shake thoroughly. Once the soil settles back to the bottom, you can compare the color of the solution to the pH color chart. This is easiest if you hold the container up to the light.

For the nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash tests, you will need a ratio of 1-part soil to 5-parts distilled water. In a separate container, mix your ratio of soil and distilled water thoroughly. After it has completely settled (this can take at least half an hour), fill your test chambers with the soil/distilled water solution up to the fill mark. Use only liquid; do not disturb the sediment. Take your appropriate nitrogen, phosphorus, or potash capsule and pour the powder into the test chamber. Replace the test chamber cap and shake thoroughly. After allowing the color to develop for 10 minutes, you should be able to compare the color of the solution to the color chart on the test.

Keep your garden beautiful and healthy this spring by getting up close and personal with your garden bed soil! Conducting a simple, easy soil test can tell you how to best care for your garden. For more information about Luster Leaf® Rapitest® Soil Test Kits, visit your local Joe’s Market Basket stores located in Edwardsville, Godfrey, Troy and O’Fallon, or visit

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