Click here to order your soil test

NOTE: If for some reason you can't order a soil test right now then don't worry - we'll be sharing with you some simple ways you can improve your soil even without one. Otherwise to get the very MOST out of your garden we highly encourage starting with one.

Digging Deeper

Learn more about the soil:

Soil Formation and Structure
Organic Matter and Chemical Balances
The Life in the Soil

Learn more about soil testing:

All About Testing Your Soil - this lesson has some really fun simple tests you can do from home to learn more about the structure of your soil

Join the Discussion

42 Comments

  • Teresa Graham

    Reply Reply April 1, 2018

    I went to the community garden box and noticed it’s made of wood. Now I have to find out what type of wood was used.

    • Paul

      Reply Reply April 4, 2018

      Good going Teresa – yes check to see if it is treated or not. If it is natural you should be all set to go! Cedar wood is the best as it doesn’t rot as quickly.

      • Bruce gall

        Reply Reply April 12, 2018

        I made my bed out of 6ft cedar pickets
        4x2x4ft ht great

      • Cate Hand

        Reply Reply December 7, 2022

        The link that is supposed to take us to the soil tests instead takes us to a general page. I did a search for soil test and got a list of 36 options. Help! I need to test raised beds.

        • Carrie Jensen

          Reply Reply February 6, 2023

          I’m in Texas – so I used the university testing lab it was $15 per sample. Also – contact your local Agri Extension office for local gardening tips and plant guides.

  • Daisy

    Reply Reply April 6, 2018

    seems my back yard is mostly sand but does have a oak tree growinge in it with some grass and weeks,did buy some organic soil and top soil which I put in large pots for a citrus tree, doen’t look too happy though, leaves only, no blossoms

    testing my sand seems kinda like a waste of time, what should I do?

    • Paul

      Reply Reply April 10, 2018

      Great question Daisy!

      I’d start by seeking to add good amounts of organic matter to your garden soil. Look into getting large quantities of compost, worm castings, and peat moss. Adding that to your sand will give it more body, help it hold nutrients and water better, and improve the structure of your soil. Then for now you may want to simply start out with using this all purpose fertilizer mix: http://store.borntogrow.net/down-to-earth-all-natural-vegan-mix-3-2-2-fertilizer-25-lb-03225/

      Once you’ve built up your soil a little I’d go for doing a soil test. Keep up the good work. You’re on the right track!

  • Trina

    Reply Reply April 18, 2018

    I have roughly a 20’x20′ garden directly in the ground and five raised beds that are at least 4’x10′. The raised beds we bought a garden mix (compost, sand, and topsoil) from a local nursery to fill the boxes. Should I just get a soil sample straight from the 20’x20′ garden? I cannot afford to send samples from all raised beds.

    • Paul

      Reply Reply May 3, 2018

      Hi Trina – absolutely! That’s exactly what I’d suggest you do. Then I’d use the Vegan Down to Earth Fertilizer as a balanced natural fertilizer in your raised beds. 🙂

  • Marjorie

    Reply Reply May 9, 2018

    I’m going with containers for the moment. I’m going to buy organic something, I’ll see when I get there and then order the dte fertilizer. What should I know before I fill these containers. Thanks.

    • Paul

      Reply Reply May 31, 2018

      Hey Marjorie! Wow, so sorry for the delay in getting back with you. Somehow we missed the notification of your comment. And great question. The main thing I would look for is a peat moss based soil mix. Don’t use a soil mix that looks like half decomposed bark chips. Find one that has a peat moss base with compost and perlite (the little white flecks) in it and that’s what I would use. Then add the fertilizer to that. That’s what we use in our container garden and it works well.

  • Janet

    Reply Reply May 18, 2018

    I know my soil is sandy loam. I’m looking forward to finding out more details about it and doing a bug count.

    • Paul

      Reply Reply September 17, 2018

      You bet Janet! 🙂

  • sharon powell

    Reply Reply September 13, 2018

    Hi Paul,
    I’m starting from scratch. We’ll be building raised beds and filling them with ??? What would suggest that I use to fill them? Would the mixture still need to be tested?

    • Paul

      Reply Reply September 17, 2018

      Hi Sharon! Welcome to our gardening family. 😀

      Great question on your raised beds. We have a great little video on building raised beds here: http://borntogrow.net/master-classes/launch/preparing-your-garden-beds/

      And about what to fill them with. We suggest using the little formula or “recipe” listed here: https://raisedbeds.com/garden-bed-soil-calculator/

      Then I would use Down to Earth Vegan Mix as a great nutrient base for your raised bed. Ideally it would still be good to get a soil test for the bed. Of course you could start out without one and see how it goes but the ideal would be to get one just to try and get your soil to the most optimum health and nutrition status to begin with.

      Hope this helps!

  • Brownie Connor

    Reply Reply February 15, 2019

    We live in an area with very limited space and strict rules. I read something about garden boxes and wonder if they are as good as advertised? I plan to fill it with the peat moss and perlite like you recommended for Marjorie Is that the best way to proceed or will the clay pot containers be enough?

    • Paul

      Reply Reply March 13, 2019

      Hi Brownie, wow! Sorry I missed your comment earlier here. And yes, I’d totally go with the garden boxes. But I’d fill it with a mix of peat moss based potting mix, compost, and top soil. Here’s a little recipe to follow:

      60 percent topsoil
      30 percent compost
      10 percent soilless growing mix (potting soil)

      Then you’ll want a fertilizer mix added to add nutrients to the bed and I’d use this fertilizer mix: https://www.amazon.com/Down-Earth-6-Pound-Vegan-7822/dp/B001B2W9HS

      Here’s the source for the raised bed recipe: https://raisedbeds.com/garden-bed-soil-calculator/

      Hope this helps!

  • Karen Riback

    Reply Reply March 12, 2019

    This year I am having to have major work done on the outside of my house. Because of this, I will need to plant at least the first planting in containers. I hoping the work will be done by the second or third planting

    • Paul

      Reply Reply March 13, 2019

      Awesome Karen – that’s a great way to start out and then you can always transplant your potted plants or plant your second plantings into the ground.

  • Mona Norris

    Reply Reply April 10, 2019

    Our Clemson extension allows us to send soil samples from various spots in the garden for free. I will be contacting them to obtain instructions.

    • Paul

      Reply Reply April 10, 2019

      Hi Mona – you can definitely do that. Unfortunately many extensions don’t give organic recommendations for amending the soil in a natural way that is why we recommend using Peaceful Valley. I know it is an investment but we believe it to be well worth it in the end!

  • Mona Norris

    Reply Reply April 11, 2019

    Thank you Paul. I will order the kit as you suggests. I had no idea their tests were limited.

    • Paul

      Reply Reply April 11, 2019

      You bet! You are welcome!

  • Teresa Paterson

    Reply Reply April 11, 2020

    Where does on buy Trifecta Plus fertilizer?

  • Nina

    Reply Reply April 16, 2020

    Do I need to test my soil if I’m planning to grow everything in planters and pots?

    • Paul

      Reply Reply April 17, 2020

      Great question Nina! No, you would not really need to test your soil if you are growing in containers. You will want to make sure the potting mix you use has a good all-round fertilizer for your plants. Down to Earth Vegan Mix is a good one to look into that I’ve used in container growing before.

  • Candace M. Buyuklu

    Reply Reply April 22, 2020

    I am planning on building raised beds and using some type of purchased mix to fill them so don’t need to test soil. Haven’t checked local places for what is available yet as with virus everything is slow, shorter hours or shut down so still have to look around when I can get out. Any suggestions on what to use, live in Illinois if it helps.

  • Judi Piscitello

    Reply Reply April 30, 2020

    I have to do patio container gardening only (due to a neighbor’s HUGE black walnut tree dropping walnuts all over my yard) and just ordered the containers but still need to purchase the soil. Do I need to test the soil I purchase?

  • Jenna ONeil

    Reply Reply April 27, 2021

    I’m looking for a good alternative for peat moss since, even supplied by Canada, harvesting it is not an ideal choice for the environment it comes from or the planet as a whole.

    https://www.life.ca/naturallife/0712/asknlpeat.html

    Thank you!
    Jenna

  • Emily

    Reply Reply September 13, 2021

    I’m having problems viewing the content on this website. The videos overlap the text and I can’t get them to play. Do you have a suggestion for me? I’m using Firefox on Windows 10.

  • Sister Maria Philomena

    Reply Reply February 24, 2022

    I’m unable to play the videos (it is rather a pain to have download the videos to view). OS X (10.11.6) — FIrefox 78.15

    • Sister Maria Philomena

      Reply Reply February 24, 2022

      Never mind! I figured out how to over-ride the Flash error message.

  • Suhaib Ahmed

    Reply Reply July 4, 2022

    Dear Paul

    I am unable to access the following

    Digging Deeper
    Learn more about the soil:

    Soil Formation and Structure
    Organic Matter and Chemical Balances
    The Life in the Soil

    please help.

    Thankyou
    Suhaib

  • Marte Rieser

    Reply Reply October 20, 2022

    I’m not seeing how to purchase the soil test on the website link. Do they still offer it?

  • Ed

    Reply Reply November 10, 2022

    I have access to horse manure. Piles and piles. Some old, some new. Is there a reason to not use horse manure to add organic matter to an otherwise very sandy soil. Thanks.

    • RW

      Reply Reply December 18, 2022

      Ed, this is late. But watch out for a chemical used on horse pastures called Grazon. It’s a broadleaf weed killer (only grasses survive) and it’s evil… so some research, it’s killed people’s gardens, landscape, trees, everything when they brought in some manure. It’s persistent, passes thru the horse’s digestive system, washes off into nearby fields and contaminates them, then passes thru cow digestive systems, etc.. So any manure product or even self-collected from a farm is suspect now. Test a small bit with a pea or bean seed to see if it germinates properly and doesn’t come up curled and twisted and stunted. I spent hours shoveling manure from a nice lady’s farm, who swore her horses hadn’t been exposed but it won’t grow anything and the seed we planted came up twisted. Now I have to shovel that back out of the compost bin I quarantined it in, and dispose of it without contaminating someone else’s environment. (Suppose I’ll put it into the regular trash pickup and let the waste-to-steam plant burn it up.) Be very careful nowadays of this type manure. I think we’re ok with rabbit and chicken (but that we are supposed to wait til chicken has manured.) HTH.

  • Richard

    Reply Reply January 6, 2023

    Clicking the link on your soil testing video takes me to…. https://www.groworganic.com/collections/professional-soil-testing. I watched the two videos they featured but did not see a way of ordering a soil test.

  • Tracy Wright

    Reply Reply January 12, 2023

    After clicking on the link I did not see a place to order a soil testing kit. My apologies if I missed it, but can you let me know how to order my soil test kit? Thank you

  • Jeffrey Smith

    Reply Reply January 14, 2023

    Ref: soil testing by Grow Organic

    I got this response from Grow Organic in October ’22; “At this time, we are not offering soil analysis other than the kit you were sent previously. We expect to offer them again in early Spring. I apologize for the confusion.”

    I am impatient and sent away for a analysis from Univ of Delaware. I just got it back but, it does not seem to be helpful for organic amendments.

  • Lindy

    Reply Reply January 20, 2023

    Just put in 4 galvanized feed troughs- 3×8 to replace a wooden garden that finally rotted away. Added topsoil, black cow and compost. Plan to add peat moss. Probably too early to test? Can you suggest a fertilizer to add or other amendments? Multiple holes in bottom….rocks for drainage…not sure any worm could survive the Texas heat!
    Thanks!!

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