How to Test Your Soil
If you are new to gardening one of the first things to do before you start planting is to establish what sort of soil you have. The simplest way to do this is to use a soil testing kit. If your soil is acidic it means that different plants will thrive in your soil, these include most ericaceous plants such as azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias. If your soil is more alkaline then the ericaceous plants will struggle to grow in your garden unless you grow them in pots of ericaceous compost.
Once you know what sort of soil you can choose the right plants to grow in your garden. Another way to gauge the type of soil you have is to look at the plants that thrive in neighbours’ gardens. Marker plants such as pink hydrangeas indicate an alkaline soil whereas rhododendrons and azaleas suggest an acid soil. However, to be more accurate carry out a simple soil test. Pick up a simple soil test kit from the garden centre. Follow the instructions or use the steps below. Most soil tests use a similar principle.
Dig a hole in the garden soil about 4inches (10cm) deep. Take a small amount of soil from the bottom of the hole and place inside the test tube up to the first level.
Open the capsule and carefully tip the contents in with the soil.
Top up with rainwater to the fourth level.
Shake well and allow to settle. Now match the colour of the liquid with the easy to use pH chart. This soil is about pH 6.0, which makes it acidic and ideal for Ericaceous plants.