Before you begin planting flowers or vegetables in the soil in your backyard, you need to test it. For plants to successfully grow they need three important nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. If your soil is deficient in one of these nutrients, the soil test kit will tell you. You can then amend your soil as needed. A Rapitest Soil Test Kit can give you accurate results in a short amount of time.
Put on a pair of plastic gloves so that you do not contaminate the soil sample. With a garden shovel, dig a hole 3 to 4 inches deep. Do this in the area that you want to use for planting.
Scoop out 1 cup of the dirt at the bottom of the hole and set it in a clean glass container. Remove any stones or debris that might be in the soil, and let it dry if it is still moist.
Mix up the dried soil and insert it in to the test chamber of your Rapitest kit until it reaches the soil line.
Take out the green capsule and pour its contents over top of the soil in the test chamber.
Add water to the test chamber until it reaches the water fill line. Set the cap on the test chamber and shake until combined.
Wait 60 seconds for the color to fully develop. Hold up the pH test chart and compare the colors. The color that matches is the pH of your soil.
Testing Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorus
Follow Steps 1 and 2 above.
Add 5 cups of water to the glass jar that contains the cup of soil. Place a lid on the jar and shake it until the dirt and water are combined. This should be done for at least one minute.
Set the jar aside for 24 hours so that the dirt settles to the bottom and the water remains on top.
Test the soil for the nitrogen. Fill the test chamber with the liquid dirt from the top of your glass jar. Add the nitrogen capsule and shake the two together. Wait 10 minutes and compare the colors with the nitrogen color chart.
Repeat Step 4 with the phosphorus capsule and then again with the potassium capsule. Each time you need to fill the test chamber with fresh soil water. Then add the capsule for the nutrient you are testing. Make sure you compare the color results with the appropriate color chart.
About this Author
Alicia Bodine has been a professional writer for six years. She has produced thousands of articles for online publications such as Demand Studios, Bright Hub, Associated Content and WiseGeek. Bodine is also the current cooking guru for LifeTips. She has received awards for being a top content producer.