Soil Testing – Part one, Why soil test and what is in the kit

Why get a soil test?
A soil test will let you know what the general make up of the soil is, this allows you to work out if you need to do anything before your pumpkins go into the ground.  To do this, you will need to request a soil test to be done, this is quite easy and a DIY kit can be requested, details of this kit are towards the end of this post.

I like to class soil testing into 3 different classes, depending on how much you are into giant pumpkin growing, and how much you want to spend.

The classes are:

  1. Do nothing at all to do with soil testing, just grow the pumpkins
  2. Check the PH level of the soil to see if it is a good range for pumpkin growing
  3. Get a soil test done, this costs the most, but gives you the most detailed data about the soil conditions/make up so you can decide on what you are going to do with amendments etc

I will now discuss in a little bit more detail about each of these 3 different approaches

1.  Do nothing at all to do with soil testing, just grow the pumpkins
This is pretty self explanatory, but the reason I have written it down is that when I am talking to people about growing giant pumpkins (and I talk to a lot of people about it) I usually say, at the bare minimum, you don’t have to do anything.  Just plant a seed and see what happens.  People trying out new things don’t want to get all technical about things, they just want to do it.

From this, the interest grows, for themselves, their children, neighbours, family and anyone else that they might talk to, and if the giant pumpkin growing bug bites, you will have a long time grower who wants to learn more, and try new techniques etc to get the best pumpkin they can.

2.  Check the PH level of the soil to see if it is a good range for pumpkin growing
This is what I would call the next step up from doing nothing, testing the soil for the PH level is easy to do, doesn’t cost much, and gives you a bit of an indication if the soil is in a good place to support the growth of giant pumpkins.

A while ago I made a video about PH level testing, and if you haven’t seen it before you can check it out OVER HERE

3.  Get a soil test done
This is top of the list when talking about finding out about your soil.

There are a lot of people/businesses that can provide you with a soil test.  A lot of these are a DIY affair, and even though there are various places advertising soil testing, one of the main players who actually do the soil test is Hills Laboratories here in Hamilton, and this is who I will be talking about in this part of the post.

What test kit to ask for
The one to ask for is a soil and plant DIY kit.  And when you get it, this is what it looks like

Soil and Plant DIY Kit from Hill Laboratories

What is included in this pack?
Contents of a soil and plant DIY kit from Hill Laboratories

Info sheet from soil and plant DIY kit from hills laboratories

So this is the actual list of what is in the envelope:

  • 2 plastic bags for plant samples
  • 2 plastic bags for soil samples
  • 1 prepaid courier bag to send samples back to Hills Laboratories
  • 1 analysis request form
  • booklet on water testing for drinking, stock, irrigation and effluents
  • brochure on soil and leaf analysis
Lots of helpful information, and lots of different options to pick from.  The basic one is the basic soil test, I will let you know in later posts what if any other optional ones I have picked.
In the next post I will go through taking my samples, and how this is done.