Client: I'm somewhat disappointed in my garden's performance this year. Or maybe it's me. However, I'm thinking that my soil isn't what it used to be. I know you frequently recommend soil testing for struggling gardeners. Could you please remind me of how to test my soil?
UCMG Help Desk: Thank you for contacting the UC Master Gardener Program Help Desk with your question about soil testing. Healthy soils will definitely improve your garden's performance
Alternatively, you could take samples of your soil and send them to a commercial laboratory for analysis. This would allow you to test for additional variables, including organic matter and any micronutrients you may have an interest in. Attached below is a list of laboratories you could consider. You'll want to visit their websites to help you chose which laboratory to use and what to test for. The websites should also have information on how to take and submit the soil sample for analysis. We do recommend contacting the laboratory to confirm how and what to sample. They will most likely have special equipment and procedures that they will recommend that you use to assure accurate results. The laboratory should also be able to provide you with guidance on what the results mean and how to apply the results to your garden.
If you decide that you need help to understand the results of your tests, we would be happy to help you with that.
Help Desk of the UC Master Gardeners Program of Contra Costa County (JL)
Note: The UC Master Gardeners Program of Contra Costa's Help Desk is available year-round to answer your gardening questions. Except for a few holidays, we're open every week, Monday through Thursday for walk-ins from 9:00 am to Noon at 75 Santa Barbara Road, 2d Floor, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523. We can also be reached via telephone: (925) 646-6586, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or on the web at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/Ask_Us/ MGCC Blogs can be found at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/HortCoCo/ You can also subscribe to the Blog (http://ucanr.edu/blogs/CCMGBlog/).