Whether you are a greenhorn or have a green thumb, testing your soil is one of the most important things that you need to consider while gardening. And you can do it right at your home with the help of a soil test kit. However, there are a number of things that you need to consider while looking for the best soil test kit.
The best soil test kit should offer information about pH value, salinity, electrical conductivity, total dissolved solids, texture, moisture, nutrients, and temperature. Also, the kit should be durable, lightweight, compact, and strong yet sensitive.
Finding the best soil test kit can be a little tricky. It requires a lot of research to come across a kit that not only gives quick and accurate results but also offers all the latest features. I have curated a bunch of popular and effective soil kits that have been tried and tested. This list will help you get a detailed review of some of the most preferred soil test kits and ensure that you pick the right one, based on your requirements.
1. Garden Tutor Soil pH Test (pH Strips)
“Well, they are easy to use and makes it easier to find out why seeds have been hard to germinate so I know what’s going on in the soil.”– Review by Kevin B.
Just like Kevin, many novice gardeners may not know the exact reason behind their seeds not germinating. This Garden Tutor soil pH test comes with a 16-page instruction booklet and can help you know why your hydrangeas are blue and not pink (or vice versa). The kit also comes with lime and sulfur application charts that can help treat fungal diseases in plants.
The best part of this kit is that it offers 100 pH test strips so you can test various locations in your garden. Also, the results are fast and quite accurate.
Here is how you can test your soil’s pH level with Garden Tutor’s soil pH test-
- Pick a spot that you want to test and collect some soil.
- Mix it with water and let the muddle settle.
- Then, stick a testing strip in and hold it against the bottle to know your soil’s pH level.
Garden Tutor is a good option to consider if you are just starting with strip testing kits. These are most effective for soils that are distinctly alkaline or acidic.
2. Sonkir Soil pH Meter (Analog, Double Probe Tester)
“Very good device. It’s handy to check if your pots are waterlogged, or if you’re getting enough light on your plants in a greenhouse and your soil pH is correct, good price.”– Review by Golden Orfe
This traditional and old-fashioned soil sensor is something that the Luddites swear by. With frequency dials instead of digital feeds, the Sonkir Soil pH meter is an analogue, double probe tester that will test soil moisture, pH value, and sunlight level of your soil.
It is one of the most convenient ways to check your soil as it requires no mixing solutions, no measuring minutiae, and no reagents. It can be directly pressed into damp soil. So, all you need to do is ensure that you pre-water if the soil seems to be dry or if it has not rained all day.
It must be noted that the meter does not respond to dry soil. Thus, it is also suggested that you carry out the moisture before getting the soil damp. Simply slide the switch to ‘moisture’ and jot down the results before start checking the pH level.
3. Essentials PH Tester (Digital, Water Resistant)
“Great for keeping an eye on my pH in my fish tank, does exactly what it says on the box highly recommend better than some pH testers on the market.”– Review by Zoe Taylor
Specially built for hydroponic and aquatic gardens, this water-resistant pH tester is a great pick for gardeners with ponds or fish tanks. But this can also be used to check your garden soil. All you need to do is add some water to the soil and mix it and let it settle. Now, you can test out the water and know the pH of your soil.
For this, you need to dip the tester into the water or the muddy solution. Then, wiggle it in order to remove any air bubbles. Hold the testing meter in the same position for around 30 seconds. You will see that the LCD screen shows the pH reading. It should be noted that the reading offered is ‘temperature adjusted. This means that no matter how warm or cold your solution is, your pH reading will remain uninfluenced.
4. Bosmere Soil PH Testing Kit (Chemical Test)
“A simple to use and cheap soil testing kit that has provided some unexpected and interesting results. Good value for money.”– Review by MR S R SNELL
One of the best things about this soil testing kit is that it comes with all the necessary reagents and can perform up to ten tests. Other than giving the pH value, it also tests nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium levels of the soil. Also, this kit can be used outdoor as well as indoors.
To test, put some soil in the test tube provided with the kit. Then, add some powder along before adding the pH testing liquid. Shake the solution well and allow it to settle. You will then notice a change in the colour which will give you the pH value of your soil.
5. Luster Leaf Rapitest 1605 (Chemical/Digital Hybrid)
“This soil tester saved me from killing my plants. It was easy to use and gave me an accurate reading on the nitrogen levels which was burning the leaves.”– Review by Josh
The Rapitest soil test kit from Luster Lead offers NPK macronutrient testing and pH testing on a digital reader. This is a great pick for people who find reading results a little difficult. This is quite common with those chemical tests that require shaking and even analogue testers. But with this digital reader, you will be given a definite figure so that you do not have to do any guesswork.
Test tubes and refill capsules are also available for the reader so you do not have to purchase a new reader every time. You can simply refill and use your existing reader again. However, it is important to keep the digital reader clean to increase its durability and longevity.
Other than this, the test kit also comes with a guide on how to adjust soil pH along with pH preferences for over 450 plants.
6. Bluelab PENPH pH Meter (Digital)
“If you want accurate pH readings every time then this is a must.”– Review by brendan
The PENPH pH Meter from Bluelab is an amazing gadget for experienced and professional gardeners. This is not one of those average, run-of-the-mill testers. But everything comes with a price tag and this is the reason why this tester is not quite affordable.
Powered by one AAA battery, this small and lightweight pen measures just 6 x 20 cm. So, you can easily carry it in your pocket and test your soil without any hassle. The pen displays pH level as well as temperature on its backlit LCD display.
And being a much more professional and sophisticated piece of equipment, this tester requires semi-frequent re-calibration. While calibration is quite easy, the ‘test’ liquid provided with the kit is not enough and might have to be purchased separately after a few months of use. This can be termed as one of the drawbacks of the tester.
But it definitely redeems itself by being fully waterproof. This means that this tester can come in handy for testing out ponds, pools, fish tanks, or even drinking water. And you would not have to worry about it getting damaged while it is raining.
7. Wanfei Plant Monitor (Smart Tester)
“Easy to set up, has told me why plant wasn’t doing so great, will be fantastic to use on my veg plants in the green house in the summer!!”– Review bymark d gilbert
This innovative and hi-tech device will definitely make soil testing a lot easier and exciting for you. This Wanfei unit will connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth and will offer you information like moisture, fertility level, temperature and light intensity of your soil.
Not only this, but it will also offer you specialized specific comments on how to maintain certain plants through its “Flower Care” application that is available for both iOS and Android devices. The tester has 4 EC sensors that detect the available nutrients in the soil and converts the information into a precise veil that is displayed on your smartphone. Thus, keeping a check on your soil will be a lot easier.
To help you make a prudent decision, here is a table that highlights all the pros and cons of the above-mentioned soil test kits:
|Litmus Indicator Paper||Monitor pH Value||Monitor Sunlight||Monitor Temperature||Monitor Soil Moisture||Monitor Nutritional Balance||Key Features|
|Garden Tutor Soil pH Test|
|£13.99||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||• Fast and accurate results|
• 100 soil pH test strips
• Comes with a 16 pH testing handbook with lime and sulfur application charts
|Sonkir Soil pH Meter (Best in Value)||£9.99||No||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||No|| • 3-IN-1 Design|
• No batteries needed
• Lightweight and portable
|Essentials PH Tester||£45.53||No||Yes||No||No||No||No|| • Water resistant, shock and drop proof|
• Fast and accurate results
• Low-battery warning and Energy-saving shut-off
|Bosmere Soil PH Testing Kit||£16.72||No||Yes||No||No||No||Yes|| • Suitable for both indoor and outdoor use|
• Instructions included
• Easy to use
|Luster Leaf Rapitest 1605||£30.20||No||Yes||No||No||No||Yes|| • Includes pH preferences for over 450 plants|
• Performs 25 tests
• Quick and accurate results
|Bluelab PENPH pH Meter|
|£68.55||No||Yes||No||No||No||No|| • Backlit LCD display|
• Double junction probe
• Auto-off function and low battery indicator
|Wanfei Plant Monitor|
|£65.99||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|| • 4 in 1 Soil Moisture Monitor|
• 4 EC sensors
• Bluetooth wireless
Things To Consider When Buying a Soil Testing Kit
While the above-mentioned soil test kits are some of the best ones on the market, it is still advised that you consider certain factors before making the final decision. Here are a few things that you must take into consideration:
- Ensure that the device or the test kit matches your requirements
- Make sure that the soil test kit is easy to use, understand and requires low maintenance.
- The device should give accurate and reliable results.
- The soil test kit should have latest features and should be worthy of its price.
- Go through reviews online by genuine buyers to get a better idea of the instrument.
If you are still having any questions regarding the importance of soil testing, here is a video that will help you understand the value of testing your garden soil:
Testing your soil can help take away the guesswork and help you find out the exact issue with your soil. This further ensures that you do not waste your time, money, and effort on unnecessary fertilizers. I hope that this blog will help you pick the right soil test kit for your garden that will help you grow healthier and high-yielding plants. So, are you ready to test your soil and begin a better gardening journey?
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