Friday, April 1, 2011

Cheap Soil Testing

Sweet Bean Gardening had a great idea for a really cheap (pretty much free!) way to test your soil composition.  Then, she expanded that idea into a meme!  That's pretty darn cool!  If you want to join, head over to her site to get the instructions, then post your results and we can all compare soil.  Fun!

So, how do you cheaply and easily test your soil composition?  Well first you take some dirt and put it in a jar.  Then you add water and salt and shake it all up.  Once it settles, there will be three layers: the top is clay, the middle silt and the bottom is sand.  Easy peasy!  The only question I had was "kosher salt or sea salt?"  I went with sea salt.

Now, being in NJ, which is a coastal peninsula, I already know my soil is pretty sandy.  But I've spent the last two years liberally applying compost to my veggie garden and wanted to see what, if any, improvement I had made.  So, I made two jars.

Jar 1 is from an undeveloped part of the property.  It's just the native soil.  Ironically, it is also the only place where flowers are blooming:

Jar 2 is from my veggie garden. 

Then, just for fun (and since I had a third jar, anyway) I decided to take a sample from the horse pastures.  We don't add finished compost to the pastures, but the horses do make quite a bit of, *ahem*, contributions to the pasture soil.  I wanted to see if their many contributions have made any impact on the soil composition out there. 

Of course, being me, I started my jars later than everyone else and they still haven't settled.  (It's been rainy and cold here.  It even snowed this morning!  Who wants to go out in that to collect dirt?  I've got a good excuse....)

I'll update with the results soon......


  1. It will be interesting to see how much difference soil amendment has brought about. I am looking forward to seeing the post about the results.

  2. That is really cool. Now I have a new project. Thanks so much. When the word "free" is involved in a gardening tip, I am all over it! :)

  3. Sounds like a project for tomorrow. I'm off to look for jars...

  4. I gathered 3 jars too but didn't have time until fri when I took a vacation day from my day job...hope to see them settle more by Sunday night so I can post on Monday

  5. I like that you took different samples in different areas. The results will tell you a lot about your garden. Can't wait to see your results!


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