Gardeners should consider getting their soil tested to see where their soil is at-if it has adequate organic matter, what the Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium levels are at, what the pH is of their soil, how high the salt content is, and calcium, sulpher, iron, magnesium levels and much more. The problem is we use to be able to give soil samples to our county extension agent and he would send it off to the state lab for analysis but that service is no longer available to us here in New Mexico. You can still get a soil analysis done but will have to send it away.
I like A & L Labs in California and have used them before. It was well worth it as I found out a lot about my soil. The first time I submitted samples and the form, I had someone walk me through it as it seems complicated but is not. So here’s how to submit your soil samples to A & L labs. This one is in California but there is another one back east if you like. They offer many different kinds of tests but you only need a soil test.
1. Go to their site http://www.al-labs-west.com/
2. Click on ‘Analytical Services’ . They have many different services but you want the ‘Soil Analysis’ section.
3. Click on ‘Sampling’ to see how to collect the soil specimens. Follow their procedures and send the samples (I put mine in a big ziploc baggie) to the address listed along at the bottom of the ‘Sampling’ section with the money $35.00. The price may seem a little steep but when you consider how much money we spend on gardening, it is not a lot to find out about your soil.
4. Then go back and look at ‘Example Reports’. See examples above. I got the ‘Standard Soil Report’ and be sure to get the ‘Graphical Soil Report’. I didn’t understand everything in the standard soil test but you have to get it to get the graphical soil test which is easy to read and understand.
5, Next print out the ‘Submittal Form’ and fill it out. See example above. Put what crops you are growing and other information they ask for. I just put in general vegetables. Check off SC3 report (complete analysis-$35.00) and check off Graphical Soil Report-additional-$1.00. (The ‘soil analysis fees’ are in the blue column on the left side of the web page if you are wondering where I got these)
6. Mail soil samples, money and form back to them. Be sure to check off email return on the form as you will get it sooner than snail mail. It takes about a week to get the results after they receive it.