Ensuring Success with Home Gardens: 3 Types of Nutrients to Look for in Soil Testing

12 May 2016
 Categories: Construction & Contractors, Blog


If you're interested in taking up gardening at home, the first thing you should do is test the quality of the soil on your land. Soil is the foundation of gardening and contains all of the nutrients and minerals that the plants will need in order to grow. To test the soil quality on your land, dig up a handful of soil approximately 10 centimeters down from the surface for testing. This will give you the best insight to the type and amount of nutrients that the soil contains and whether any additional fertilizers are needed. Here are 3 particularly important nutrients to test for.

Ensure Optimal Supply of Nitrogen

Nitrogen is perhaps one of the most important essential nutrients that you should test for, as it is easily lost from the soil and often the limiting factor in crop productivity. Nitrogen is required for regulating numerous plant functions, like photosynthesis, and is responsible for giving plants their rich green colour. In short, you should really test for nitrogen levels in your soil if your plants are a bit yellow. Test for nitrogen in late summer or early fall using a nitrate test strip, as this will give you enough time to add more nitrogen into the soil via fertilizers should there not be enough.

Determine Phosphorous Levels

Other than nitrogen, phosphorous is also another important essential nutrient that is needed for optimal plant growth. Phosphorous is required for root development, stalk and stem strength, and disease resistance. The best way to test for phosphorous is via the Morgan soil test, which basically will require you to shake a sample of soil with a chemical solution to obtain an extract. This extract will then be sent to a laboratory that can measure the approximate concentration of phosphorous present. You should look for laboratories in your area that will do the testing for you. Some laboratories will ask for a sample of the soil whereas others will require you to send them the extract only.

Check Calcium Levels in the Soil

If you are sending a sample of the soil to a laboratory for testing, you should also see whether the laboratory will test for calcium, as it is responsible for proper cell division and cell wall development. In short, it will affect how large and healthy your plants are. Calcium levels in the soil can only be accurately determined through a laboratory. If you are sending a sample to test for calcium levels in the soil, make sure you store your sample in a plastic container, as a metal container may leak zinc into the soil.


Those who are serious about gardening should get their soil tested regularly to make sure that the soil is healthy and filled with sufficient nutrients for their plants. A correct and optimal balance of nutrients is needed for optimal plant growth and for better harvests.