Prior to planting a garden or seeding a lawn, most garden guides recommend testing your soil. A soil-testing kit such as the kind manufactured by the Ferry-Morse company is designed to indicate the pH of soil as well as the nutrient content. Based on test results, you can add soil amendments to change the pH of your soil and add nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous or potassium.
Dig 1 tbsp. of soil from the surface of a location in your garden with a trowel. Place the soil into a bucket.
Burrow down approximately 3 inches below the spot where you dug your surface soil sample. Dig 1 tbsp. of soil from this location.
Mix both soils in a bucket.
Fill each vial from the Ferry-Morse soil-testing kit halfway full with soil. Fill each vial to the top with water. Place the cap onto each vial and shake to mix the soil and water. Select the vial with the green lid to test the soil's pH. Select the vial with the purple lid to check nitrogen levels, the black lid to check phosphorous and brown to check potassium.
Select a capsule that is the same color as the vial's lid. Open the capsule and place the powder inside it into in the vial. Shake the vial and allow the capsule to dissolve. The color of the water in the vial will change in reaction to the soil content.
Match the color of the water in the vial to the corresponding color on the chart packaged with your Ferry-Morse soil testing kit. This will help indicate the pH of your soil as well as the nutrient content.