9

The easiest test to do is also perhaps the most important: organic matter content. You do this with what is commonly called a "soil shake test." Find an area clear of weeds and growth where you can get about ¼ quart jar of screened soil (no rocks or huge lumps). Add water to the quart jar until it is perhaps ¾ full. Attach lid and shake vigorously for some ...


8

For a relatively small fee, I think it's easier and gives better results to send it to a lab for testing. If you're in the US, your state university's cooperative extension can give you pH and basic nutrient content for $10-20.


7

I think I paid $17 through my state's cooperative extension service and got pH, organic matter %, phosphate, potash, calcium, magnesium, lead, and recommendations for how much lime and organic fertilizers I should add. Your profile says you live in Ohio. A quick google search leads me to the OSU Extension Service -- note that the form indicates that Penn ...


7

I would stay clear of paper (eg. Litmus paper) and indicator solutions (eg. Universal Indicator). Paper strips are only a simple "is it more acidic than X" or "is it more alkali than Y". Pigmentation from the soil can also pose a problem. Soil colour and suspension will be the problem with the solutions. A well designed solution such as Universal Indicator ...


7

This question has been answered very fully. I entirely agree with most of the comments and there is little to add; however, there is one important aspect of long-term/ over-manuring that has not been mentioned: soil pH. Regular use of manure, whether the cow or horse variety, will slightly lower the pH, and over-use will over-acidify your soil, just as too ...


7

I don't know how to figure out their concentration, but figuring out if you have any is easy if you're willing to be patient. Keep in mind that there are different species of Rhizobia that work with different groups of legumes (e.g. clover needs different bacteria than string beans). At the end of the growing season, carefully dig up the roots of your ...


7

The best way is to get a soil test. If you can find a COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICE via the closest University, it is cheap and possibly free. Otherwise there are cheap tests like the ones used for HOT TUBS. There are also these pronged things that seem to work well. I own a very expensive pH tester and test these other cheap LOWES or HOME DEPOT pH ...


7

Measuring the pH of soil is cheap and super easy (I do this often). Get a (plastic) bowl. Put a sample of soil in it. Add distilled (not rain or tap) water and mix it to the consistency of a milk shake. Wait 30-60 minutes, until the soil settles and you have mostly water on top. Test the pH of the water/supernatant with a pH meter or litmus strip(s). ...


6

It will tell you whether your soil is above or below a pH of 7.0, turning green or red, respectively. It will not tell you the exact number, which is why a real test is required. Anthocyanin is the coloring agent in red cabbage, and turns red at a pH of less than 7.0. The best way to test your soil is to either buy a test kit, or digital meter, or if you don'...


6

In this case, because you already decided what you will put down, if you don't want to do two tests, test after. The reason? You will know what your soils current condition is, whether you need to apply lime, and what the nutrient concentrations are. All this is outdated when you add that big of a load of amendments. Also, if you mix them in properly, you ...


6

Did you try your Local Extension Office? Ours offers free soil testing. I believe most offer this service, but you may want to call and check. Some apparently have stopped offering soil testing (budgetary issues). Tell them exactly what you want to do and what you want to plant. They will recommend what to add (or, in your case, what not to add).


6

Here's my take on it for what it is worth: Soil is (hopefully) a living, dynamic system whose composition is anything by homogeneous. The pH of one scoop of soil from one part of my garden is likely to have a slightly different pH than that of a scoop from another part of the garden. Similarly, other metrics I might collect on the soil will likely differ ...


6

By remediation, I think that you mean transforming the lead into a less toxic or inert form. However, there are many ways that are being used to deal with lead and this is a very intensive and lengthy subject (books are written about it). Unfortunately, for the time being, the more common methods for dealing with lead is to bury it or cover it with top soil, ...


5

Lead is often present in soil, but not because of oil refineries necessarily - it may occur naturally, but most is there because of man's activities. Soil near to major roads may well be contaminated from the lead that was once in petrol, and the other major source was paints, those used in and outdoors, because they also contained lead. Lead particles tend ...


5

First, dig down to the subsoil to see what your soil base is. Remove a sample, and spread it out. remove all stones, roots, and debris, and crumble the soil into a fine texture. Fill a quart canning jar (clear) 1/4 full with this soil. Fill it about 3/4 of the way with water, so that there is still some air space. Add 1/2 tbs of dishwasher detergent (don't ...


5

That pot/soil might have an abnormal level of salts; most "moisture meters" are essentially Ohm-meters registering electrical resistance (or conductivity - the inverse, so same thing by another name, really) between the electrodes. Salts would greatly increase the conductivity/reduce the resistance .vs. a less-salty mixture. Alternatively (perhaps the soil ...


5

Zinc is tricky, soil can contain a higher ppm than what you might want (10 ppm or so) without it being a problem because a good portion of the zinc is being held within the iron and oxides which is actually not available to the plants. Soil pH will contribute to dictating zincs accessibility/solubility where a higher pH equates to a lower solubility. For ...


4

I was in a hardware store last week and saw a PH testing kit. I was around $10. Or if this is the sort of thing you want to do regularly consider getting a Ph test probe. Just stick it in your ash (or soil or compost) and it will give you a (moderately) accurate reading. No batteries required.


4

Short answer: yes you can find them for 3-20 usd depending on features. Long answer: When I was young my biology teaching father brought home a suitcase full of colorful vials and reagents, each set represented a test for an aspect of the soil, phosphate, nitrate, pH, etc... I remember running every test available on the garden soil... When I was done I had ...


4

There's one or two simple things you can do without finding a laboratory. We don't go in much for soil testing in the UK (unless it's critical because there's a major problem) so, first and most important, have a look around your area and see what's growing in the ground, and growing well, either in people's gardens or in the wild. I know there's a lavender ...


4

Any good maintenance company either leaves a 'report' explaining any chemical treatments (organic or synthetic) for the homeowner or places flags with explanations as to treatment. If your company is not doing this it is entirely proper to ask them to do so, and retroactive as well! If you are using 'Organic' you should never see FAST changes. There are ...


4

This has probably been asked before but there are soil labs where you can send a sample of the soil in and they're able to perform a number of tests including pH, fertility as far as macro and some micro nutrients, lead content, organic matter content, cation exchange capacity, textural analysis (sandy, loam, clay, etc) soluble salt levels and probably some ...


4

I'm not currently an expert on soil science. However, it looks like adding extra lime (for calcium and to raise the pH) and especially manganese should help. Low manganese is probably going to be an even worse problem after you add calcium/lime, since manganese is less available in more alkaline soil and more available in acidic soil. You'll want to use ...


4

"Toxicity" is about plant. Some will not growth well. It is not about human toxicity (which depends on plants). Mushroom could have more zinc, in general compost could have more metals (and if you used also ash you get more). Compost concentrate stuffs (but water and carbon). Because metals are used on very few quantities, it could add. Topsoil could be ...


4

The front bed looks unusual; high pH, high metals Zn, Cu and Fe. Looks like some contribution from domestic scrap metals. High pH and phosphorus could be TSP used to clean something. Maybe grow something like annual rye grass for a season to let it rest or mellow. I use TSP as a fertilizer for P but I have a very acidic soil so the alkalinity is no problem ...


3

Hear my words!! Soil is soil...the plant life that has adapted is very happy no matter. If you want to grow stuff that is not indigenous (vegetables) it is pretty EASY to make ANY soil great. Number UNO is add DECOMPOSED ORGANIC MATTER. This is the ONLY way to make ANY soil great. Don't think sand, gravel, gypsum, lime, egg shells...will work ONE LITTLE ...


3

Okay to get right to it, no, most of those listed nutrients aren't practical to test for at home. That said, you can get test kits, for basic info about levels of N,P,K, and pH, but they will not cover all the other elements you were asking about. Basically, if you want to do that yourself, you'll have to actually build yourself a lab. It would be expensive,...


3

This isn't the easiest process in the world, but you can do it. Personally, I'd call up a lab and ask if they could test it for me. Other than that, you would have to use something like a combustion process, like a CHN analyzer such as this one (expensive), or use a mass spectrometer to ionize and separate the material, like this one (even more expensive). ...


3

It looks like you may be experiencing problems from a nitrogen deficiency. I'm guessing that, because the soil isn't entirely decomposed, so the undecomposed organic matter will still be pulling nitrogen from the soil. I've noticed that soil you buy at nurseries isn't necessarily the most nutrient rich, although it is usually dark, with plenty of organic ...


3

A quick and dirty way is take the ashes and mix into a sample of your garden soil in the proportion you intend to use. Then sow some lettuce seed. Lettuce is sensitive to contaminants and will not germinate well when exposed to them.


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