Main Melinda Myers Page >> Taking a Soil Test


Nationally renowned garden expert Melinda Myers helps everyday gardeners find success and ease in the garden through her Melinda’s Garden Moments television segments. Melinda shares “must have” tips that hold the key to gardening success, learned through her more than 25 years of horticulture experience. Viewers from across the country find her gardener friendly, practical approach to gardening both refreshing and informative! On this page, Melinda shares some more extensive garden tips, which expands on the information provided in her one-minute TV segments.

Melinda’s Garden Moments Garden Tips!

New tips will be added throughout the growing season, providing timely step-by-step tips on what you need to do next in your garden! To view online streaming video of Melinda’s Garden Moments, visit This Webpage

Taking a Soil Test

Growing a beautiful landscape starts with the soil under your feet. You can’t see what nutrients your soil contains; but a soil test can. The results tell us if and what type of fertilizer is needed for the plants we are growing.
Check your yellow pages or contact your local Extension service for details on submitting a sample.
It’s a simple test. Slide away the mulch and remove a slice of soil, 4 to 6 inches deep, right where the plant roots grow.
Take several samples from the garden you want to test. Combine the samples and place them in the mailing bag. Allow several weeks for the test to be complete and the results to be returned.
You can take a soil test anytime the ground isn’t frozen and you haven’t recently fertilized. I like fall to beat the rush or early spring so I can make needed changes in my fertilization.
So dig in for a healthier garden.
Just a Bit More Information: While waiting for the soil test results do a bit of investigation on your own. All you need is a straight sided clear jar, a handful of garden soil and a drop of non-foaming detergent. Remove all the sticks, stones and mulch from the soil and place in the clean jar. Add enough water to fill ¾ of the jar. Place a drop of detergent in the mix and shake vigorously for a couple of minutes. This is a great way to help young gardeners burn off excess energy.

Now set the jar in a space where it can remain undisturbed for several days. Check the jar for settling. The first layer will be the larger sand particles. The next will be the medium sized silt particles and the fine clay will finally settle in a day or two. Compare the layers to calculate the percent of each in your soil. Then consult the soil triangle below (thanks to Iowa State University) to determine the texture of your soil. Compare your results to those of the soil lab. It is a fun activity for the whole family and a great way to get kids excited about the garden and outdoors.

For more gardening tips, podcasts and more, visit

About Melinda Myers

Melinda Myers, best known for her gardener friendly and practical approach to gardening, has more than 25 years of horticulture experience in both hands-on and instructional settings. She has a bachelor’s degree in horticulture from The Ohio State University and a master’s degree in horticulture from University of Wisconsin-Madison, is a certified arborist, and was a horticulture instructor with tenure.

Outside the classroom, Melinda shares her expertise through a variety of media outlets. She has written 20 books, including Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening, and the Birds & Blooms’ Ultimate Gardening Guide. She hosts “Great Lakes Gardener,” seen on PBS stations throughout the United States, and “Melinda’s Garden Moments”, which air on network television stations throughout the country. She appears regularly as a guest expert on various national and local television and radio shows. She also writes the twice monthly “Gardeners’ Questions” newspaper column and is a contributing editor and columnist for Birds & Blooms and Backyard Living magazines. In addition, she hosted “The Plant Doctor” radio program for over 20 years.

For her work, community service and media presence, Melinda has received recognition and numerous awards, including the 2003 Garden Globe Award for radio talent and the Quill and Trowel Award for her television work, both from the Garden Writers Association. She has also received the Garden Communicator’s Award from the American Nursery and Landscape Association and the Gold Leaf Award for Arbor Day from the International Society of Arboriculture.

For more information, visit Myers’ web site The site features regularly updated garden tips, podcasts, a garden club, e-newsletter, books, appearance information, “Great Lakes Gardener” television schedule and more.

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