Now might be a great time to test your soil

By Lisa Johnson, Extension Educator

It’s a great time to test your soil in the vegetable garden as well as perennial and annual beds, turf areas, and areas where you grow fruit. Knowing your soil texture, pH (measures alkalinity and acidity of soil) and levels of the three macronutrients nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium can help you choose appropriate plants to grow. Samples should be collected to a depth of 6-8 inches in the soil.

The University of Wisconsin Soils Lab is located in Madison. You can reach them at (608) 262-4364 or  to request the testing kit, which includes sampling instructions, the form you need to submit and bags for mailing the samples. Soil testing is important for new gardens, so you have baseline information for fertilizer application. It is also important for beds that haven’t been tested for a while.

The UW Soils Lab’s standard soil test costs $15, and the report includes information on your soil pH, percent organic matter–which is used to calculate a nitrogen recommendation, phosphorus and potassium levels, a lime or sulfur recommendation if needed to adjust pH, fertilizer recommendations and other tips. Go to for information on other available tests, and the address to send them for analysis.

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