I recently found out that there is a (state?-)tax-funded community resource in the US associated with Land-Grant State Universities called "Extension Offices". They offer soil testing kits, personalised advice and even officers who can help you develop your soil/garden.

(All this from a video here. Specifically @~0:40 and again @~1:48.)

Are there any similar resources in the UK that I should know about / make use of?

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In short, no; the RHS is interested in unusual problems, especially new disease symptoms, and if you are a member, may identify a plant for you. Kew Gardens offers a similar service, but there is nothing equivalent to US Extension Offices.

  • I was awaiting an answer to this question and this very much surprises me. The US also has a Master Gardener program that is usually run by the Extensions in most states (not that many Master Gardeners are all that scientifically literate, but they are expected to know basic soil science, basic plant biology, basic horticulture, and other topics). Are most gardening practices passed down from generation to generation in the UK?
    – Jurp
    May 17, 2020 at 14:20
  • There are RHS courses you can take - many are aimed at non professional gardeners. We also don't have the wide range of soil profiles & nutrient deficiencies encountered in the States (its a vast country after all, compared with the UK) and our range of pests is nowhere near as bad as those you might encounter, even some diseases, although the range has increased here in recent years. But for sure, in the UK, you can, by and large, plant a shrub in the ground and it will grow well, even without any fertilizers (with the exception of things like planting an acid lover on chalk soil and so on).
    – Bamboo
    May 17, 2020 at 14:51
  • I didn't have room to mention the wide range of environmental conditions in the States ... in terms of temperatures, general weather and so on - differences here are minimal compared to the States. It's a different (horticultural) world here in the UK! Otherwise, yea,we all look up in books or online or ask friends who garden if we're a bit stuck. Or ask on websites like this...and listen to Gardener's Question Time and gardening programmes on the BBC
    – Bamboo
    May 17, 2020 at 14:55

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