previous
  • Using Containers as Elements of a Design
    Using Containers as Elements of a Design
  • Pick Plants for Fragrance
    Pick Plants for Fragrance
  • Garden Design Basics
    Garden Design Basics
  • Indoor Seed Starting Materials List
    Indoor Seed Starting Materials List
  • How to Grow Mustard
    How to Grow Mustard
  • DIY A-Frame Veggie Trellis
    DIY A-Frame Veggie Trellis
  • Get your FREE Everyday Roses download now!
    Get your FREE Everyday Roses download now!
  • Plant Finder: Spring Plants
    Plant Finder: Spring Plants
  • Pantone Color of the Year 2014: Radiant Orchid
    Pantone Color of the Year 2014: Radiant Orchid
  • Homegrown / Homemade
    Homegrown / Homemade
  • NEW Video Series: There's a Better Way
    NEW Video Series: There's a Better Way
  • Building Better Borders
    Building Better Borders
  • Black Plants Done Right
    Black Plants Done Right
  • Bold and Beautiful Zinnias
    Bold and Beautiful Zinnias
  • Go Green on the Patio
    Go Green on the Patio
  • 10 Combinations for Shade
    10 Combinations for Shade
  • Planting the Right Way
    Planting the Right Way
  • 20 Gardenworthy Self-Sowers
    20 Gardenworthy Self-Sowers
  • Seed Starting in Speedling Trays
    Seed Starting in Speedling Trays
  • 10 Seed-Starting Tips
    10 Seed-Starting Tips
  • Rex Begonias
    Rex Begonias
  • 3 Ways to Design with Containers
    3 Ways to Design with Containers
next

How to Start a Vegetable Garden: Testing Your Soil

Length: 2:07
Produced By: Steve Aitken, Danielle Sherry, Gary Junken, and Kate Geruntho Frank

So you're wondering how to start a vegetable or kitchen garden? Not to worry. Our seven-video series, "How to Start a Vegetable Garden," will help you get your first veggie venture off to a good start. We’ll cover the basics: choosing a location, preparing the soil, building raised beds, starting your seedlings, and planting your garden.

2. Testing Your Soil

One of the most important steps you can take in starting a vegetable garden is to make sure you have good soil. But you can't tell what condition your soil is in just by looking at it. That's where soil testing comes in.

The most important things a soil test will tell you are your soil's pH, its texture, and its nutrient levels. The key to getting this information is to getting an accurate sample.

 First, start in one corner of the garden and dig a hole. A shovel produces a cone-shaped hole, removing more soil at the surface of your hole. Since you want your sample to offer an accurate cross-section of your soil, take a slice with a spade to a depth of about six inches. Continue to take slices from 6 to 12 areas around your garden so that each area is represented. Avoid any areas that would obviously skew your results, like areas next to a building.

After you've taken all your slices, crumble up the soil and remove any rocks, bits of root and grass, and moss that you find. Spread it out to dry for about a day. Put it back into your container and mix it back up. Put a small sample in a sealable bag and mail it to your local extension service. What you'll get back will be information on your pH, your soil texture, the level of organic matter in your soil, and any other specific things you request. You'll also get fertilizer recommendations, amd you'll learn what your next steps are toward creating healthy soil for your garden.

See more videos in this series:

1. Selecting a Site
2. Testing Your Soil
3. Removing Sod and Vegetation
4. Building Raised Beds
5. Starting Seeds Indoors
6. Direct Sowing Vegetable Seeds
7. Planting Out