Soil testing is necessary to determine the available nutrients in the soil.  A soil test report will provide valuable information to enable gardeners to provide an optimal balance of soil nutrients for the vegetable, fruit or other crop grown as well as maintaining a desirable soil pH level.

Soil testing is highly recommended when starting a new vegetable garden; the success of any crop is directly related to soil nutrient levels. Soil testing is also particularly helpful in Galveston County since the phosphorus level in many of our clay soils is already high (and in some cases, phosphorus levels are very high).  Salinity can also be a problem in some coastal soils.

The procedure for soil testing is very simple.  A small sample of soil is collected from 5 to 8 different spots within the garden area (10 to 15 sample areas are recommended for large acreages).  Be sure to remove any surface mulch or litter from the sampled areas.  Using a spade, dig a V-shaped, 4-to-6 inch hole for each sample site and then take a 1-inch thick slice from the smooth side of the hole.  Remove equal sized amounts of soil from shovel slice (such as an one-inch wide center core of the shovel slice) from each sampled area.  Place all samples in the same clean plastic bucket.  Mix the samples thoroughly and remove one pint as the composite sample.

Place the composite sample in a soil sample bag and complete an information form with your name, address, sample identification, etc.  The form and sample can be submitted to the Soil, Water and Forage Testing Laboratory at Texas A&M University for testing.  Costs for soil testing range from $10.00/sample for a routine analysis up to $50.00/sample for more detailed micronutrient testing.

The Galveston County Extension Office can provide detailed, written instructions, soil sample information forms and soil sample bags in order for gardeners to have their soil tested.


This web site is maintained by Master Gardener Laura Bellmore, under the direction of William M. Johnson, Ph.D., County Extension Agent-Horticulture & Master Gardener Program Coordinator.

All digital photographs are the property of  the Galveston County Master Gardener Association, Inc. (GCMGA) 2002-2010 GCMGA - All Rights Reserved.