Soil testing is sometimes necessary when putting in a new school garden especially if asphalt has been removed. Even an existing garden can be tested to make sure the soil contains all the proper nutrients and is free from contaminants.
Los Angeles County Master Gardener, Herb Machleder, offers this recommendation from Peaceful Valley Organic Garden and Farm Supply, located in Grass Valley, Northern California:
1) “Complete Soil Analysis with free booklet” #SVS200 $49.98
This is a very complete analysis of major, minor, and trace nutrients and minerals and all the usual soil characteristics; pH, cation exchange, etc. The booklet is very helpful for interpretation, and also indicates any amendments that would be appropriate and how to order them, on the same web site. The kit includes full instructions and a small addressed package to return the sample for analysis. For a small extra fee, they offer a phone call service with their staff soil expert, to discuss the analysis, if questions remain. I’ve used the service for several of the school garden orchards, when we really weren’t sure of what kind of soil we were dealing with. By using the recommended amendments we very pleased with the fertility results. The phone call service was stated as $10 per minute, but no additional bill was sent for up to 30minutes. They seemed very eager that the results be interpreted properly, and any amendments needed were appropriate.
2) A more limited soil test is called: “NPK Analysis” # SVS100 $29.98 . It also comes with complete instructions and a sample-taking kit. The price is all inclusive.
The print catalog is full of great information on beneficial insects, green manure crops, etc. The website is www.groworganic. com