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Soil tests—how to respond if your soil is not an A student

Mar 10, 2011 -

organic fertilizer


Let’s say you’ve followed Tricia’s suggestions in our Soil Tests video, carefully collected soil samples, and sent them off for soil analysis.

The soil analysis envelope arrives in your mailbox and it’s the moment of truth. Is your soil the dirty equivalent of a genius, or does it need help?

The free booklet we provide will show you how to interpret the results of the soil analysis, and how to measure the amount of fertilizer you may need to take your soil to the head of the class.


Colorado State University Extension gives an overview of organic fertilizers. For practical assistance in this complex area, go to our Home page and click on Fertilizers. In the left menu bar you’ll see a list of organic fertilizers, organized according to the nutrients you want.


0-10-10, for instance. The numbers represent the amounts of three macronutrients, N P and K, in a fertilizer.

Memorize these letters:

N-P-K means nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

So a zero as the first number on a fertilizer box means zero nitrogen. Here are the organic ways to add these macronutrients to your soil.

Nitrogen—for vigorous leaves

Sources: Blood Meal, Cottonseed Meal, PVFS Liquid Fish Emulsion, Fish Meal, Feather Meal, and pelleted fertilizers formulated for different kinds of plants (in the photo above).

Phosphorus—for flower, fruit and root development

Sources: Soft Rock Phosphate and Bone Meal.

Potassium—vigor and resistance through sugar formation

Sources: Sulfate of Potash and Greensand.

Soil Tests Soil Test Kits NPK Test Kit ph Soil Test
Soil Testing

DIY: Soil Test Kit

DIY: NPK Test Kit DIY: pH Soil Test


For around-the-garden information, you can use a DIY at-home test kit or a field meter.

The information provided by these test kits is not as detailed as the soil analysis testing, but can give you fast results when you’re in the middle of transplanting seedlings or perennials, and want quick answers.

The field meters are handy tools for doing spot checks and keeping up with soil pH (which can change even during phases of the moon).

The more you know about your soil, the better. Don’t spend your money on fertilizers until you know exactly what you need. You may be pleasantly surprised by the test scores!

Categories: Soil Test, Soil Test Kit, Soil Testing, NPK Test Kit, pH Soil Test, Field Meters, Soil Amendments, Soil Conditioner, Pelleted Fertilizer, Powdered Fertilizer, Organic Fertilizer, Liquid Fertilizer, Pelleted Fertilizer, Powdered Fertilizer, Liquid Fish, Organic Nitrogen Fertilizer, Water Soluble Fertilizer, Fertilizer Injector, Organic Gardening 101

Ferne Watt Says:
Mar 12th, 2011 at 10:00 am

We did your soil analysis a few months ago and purchased all our fertilizers and now are hoping for stellar results!  This is a great post.  I might link to it from my blog if that is alright?  I am sending lots of people your way from the nursery I work at in Red Bluff!

Charlotte Says:
Mar 14th, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Ferne Sure we’d be pleased to have you link to us! Thanks for your kind words and please let us know how your soil does.

Kim Hutchinson Says:
Apr 15th, 2013 at 12:10 pm

I’m looking to see if I can test not only the integrity of the soil and what it’s lacking or needs more in terms of amendments, but also what kind of toxic elements could be in the soil for example lead paint etc.  will a complete soil testing kit sent to a professional lab give me that information (and peace of mind!) that my soil is clean of toxicity?

Charlotte from Peaceful Valley Says:
Apr 16th, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Kim, Our lab soil test gives readings on zinc, manganese, iron, copper and boron in addition to organic matter, estimated nitrogen release & nitrate nitrogen, phosphorus (weak bray & sodium bicarbonate P), extractable cations (potassium, magnesium, calcium, sodium), hydrogen, sulfate sulfur, pH & cation exchange capacity and percent cation saturation and excess lime  Many local companies process soil tests for lead. Check with your local Master Gardeners or County Extension office to find out which lead testing facility is nearby.

SpitFire Says:
Jan 28th, 2014 at 9:39 pm

Good day to you.  Awesome vids and well as products. Was actually wondering where you go to send off soil samples for testing? I have called around my local area and no one seems to know what I’m talking about or they don’t know where. Thank you!

Stephanie Brown Says:
Jan 29th, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Hello SpitFire,

Thank you. We actually provide soil testing. If you’re local you can bring it in to our retail store or mail it to us. Your local ag extension or master gardeners can help as well. I’m glad to hear our videos and articles are helpful to you.

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