How to Use a Soil Tester
The success or failure of a garden depends on the soil. A soil tester helps a gardener test for pH, which is the level of acid, plus how much nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are present. All of these factors should be taken into account when planning which plants to put in a garden, and where to put them. The tests may also suggest that fertilizer should be added, or sand, or other possible treatments done to the soil.
Universities and departments of agriculture are often willing to test soil for a small fee. There are also soil test kits for sale at home and garden stores. They have small testing cups in which some soil and water is placed, along with a powder that causes a reaction in the soil. The level of the particular soil nutrient being tested is indicated on the side of the cup.
There are also electronic soil testers. Some show just one factor, some measure for many factors, and can even indicate whether there is enough light and water at a particular location. A probe is pushed into the soil and a readout on the device gives the results.
Good soil produces good plants, so test and add nutrients if needed.