Most of us don’t know the entire history of our homes and the land they’re built on. And, renters likely know even less. In some cases, your yard may have had uses in the past that make it unfit for growing food altogether. Your home may have been painted with lead paint that flaked off. Or, there could have been potentially polluting industry near your home and garden.
If you have any question, it’s best to test.
Soil testing can give you information about possible contaminants and toxins. It's great for learning what nutrients and supplements your soil might need to produce a healthy and successful garden too. Climate Victory Gardeners can request additional soil carbon testing alongside the basic kit to measure their climate impact after they've adopted carbon-capturing practices.
You can often find soil testing kits at local agricultural extension office associated with a state university, even if that university is hundreds of miles away. You can also contact the university or lab directly to have a soil testing kit mailed to you (find the contact info for your nearest office here). While you may be able to find kits online or at local garden and hardware stores, we suggest going through a local university to ensure the tests are conducted in professional labs.
The kit consists of a simple plastic tube or bag and instructions on how to collect the soil.
Early spring is a great time of year to test your soil. It’s best to do it when the ground is thawed and digging up the samples won’t disturb growing plants. But really, you can do this just about any day of the year.
Learn more about the details of what you can expect from testing your soil—including tracking soil carbon for your Climate Victory Garden.