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Folks, I'm trying to measure soil and compost for use in home gardening of vegetables and herbs. My goal is to use compost primarily, and augment it as necessary. The compost is mostly vermicompost, though I do have some residual of the other kind.

Aside from sterilizing the compost, I'd like to measure it and make sure my seedlings get a nice home. I have a electronic pH test kit, and would like to measure NPK. Is it possible to get a numeric reading that I can make sense of? My problems is that I'm color blind, and matching a color to a number is really difficult for me. Oh, and I'd prefer it to be under $50, but would settle for under $100.

Thanks, Ben

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  • Is this compost to be used in your indoor potting soil? Otherwise sterilizing might be overkill! Compost is great as it is food for microorganisms in your soil. Best to make it yourself. But it is also full of bacteria YOU WANT!! Send a sample to your Cooperative Extension Service close to where you live. It might even be free! Is this for ornamental plant beds or vegetable gardens?? pH is different for different plants, great to know so that you are able to group plants of similar pH together for soil pH management...send more detailed information!! GREAT question!!!
    – stormy
    Jul 11, 2015 at 19:15
  • And...you HAVE to use soil, not JUST compost. Plants need soil AND organic matter. NEVER just organic matter...
    – stormy
    Jul 11, 2015 at 21:21

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Usually, you can get it analyzed at your local extension agent's lab for less than $30, in the US. They will give you a full sheet, no need to match colors.

But really, I'd use soil as a base, and vermicompost as the augmentation. Most plants won't do too well in pure vermicompost. Also, no need to sterilise it unless there is known disease in the compost. The microbial life is one of it's biggest assets, and sterilising it will lose that.

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  • Aerobic vermicompost should be fine as the worms eat the pathogenic bacteria. Jan 16, 2017 at 5:55

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