Say goodbye to wilting plants and a big hello to healthier soil and crops: These test kits will help you figure out your soil’s needs!
Every gardener knows what’s needed for a lush, thriving garden: Water, sunlight, oxygen, and certain nutrients, which you can provide through fertilizers.
But are those enough?
You’d be surprised to know that the answer is no.
Anyone who spent lots of money on fertilizers and related products and still didn’t get the results they wanted knows all too well that when it comes to taking care of your plants, it’s not enough to feed them fertilizers without first getting proper information on the type of soil you’re working with.
For example, did you know that you can actually overwater or over-fertilize your plants?
Yes, that’s why the type of products and quantity matter; after all, ‘too much of a good thing’ and all that.
So how do you determine which fertilizers— and how much of them— your plants need?
By testing the soil, of course…
The soil can be tested using many methods, from DIY at-home tests to professional laboratory tests. Heck, gardeners and farmers of old used to do taste tests to test pH of the soil. Hey, if that’s your jam, go ahead, but personally, we prefer doing it in a slightly more scientific way…
…and that’s using soil test kits.
Aren’t we so lucky to have the option now?
But the only problem is…
The choices on the market can be overwhelming! Having gone through my gardening beginner phase once upon a time, I know the feeling of old.
Fret not, though…
In this article, we’ll give you our top recommendations for the best soil test kits you can buy today. Along with that, we’re also going to cover:
- The different soil testing methods;
- Which soil testing method is the most reliable;
- Things to consider when buying a soil test kit;
- And much more…
Scroll down to see more!
Using good soil test kits has so many benefits; besides giving you an idea of which and how much fertilizers your soil needs, these kits also test soil pH and whether it’s optimal for growing certain plants.
Soil test kits can also detect nutrient deficiencies and imbalances, so that you can amend your soil according to its needs.
Test kits have varying accuracy, speed of results, and ease of use, so it’s up to you which feature you value the most, whether you want to sacrifice accuracy for quicker results or vice versa. Don’t worry; we’ve included different types of test kits so you can choose exactly the type that’s right for your needs in our soil test kit reviews.
Continue reading if this sounds good to you!
Best Soil Test Kits For Vegetable Garden
Best Compact Soil Test Kit for Vegetable Garden – Editor’s Choice Award
Atree Soil pH Meter, 3-in-1 Soil Tester Kits
- Accurately measures pH, moisture, and light levels
- Easy to use
- Small and compact
- Doesn’t require batteries or electricity
- Great for gardening beginners
- Prevents over or under watering plants
- Comes with clear, easy-to-understand instructions
- Reasonably priced
- Can be quite hard to read
- The probes could be more durable
If you just need a simple soil pH testing kit with basic functions, then the ATree Soil pH Meter 3-in-1 Soil Tester Kit will probably be right up your alley.
This 3-in-1 tool is compact and couldn’t be easier to use— simply poke the probes into the soil, wait for about ten minutes, then take the reading.
It has three functions: pH, moisture, and light meters The pH meter is so useful in controlling the soil’s pH level and if it needs adjusting, as well as helps you determine whether acidic or alkaline soil is better for your plants.
The moisture meter lets you know if the soil needs watering, preventing over or underwatering. On the other hand, the light meter has a small solar cell that reads the light level and tells you whether your plant is getting enough light.
We find the moisture meter to be particularly excellent. If you have finicky plants or ones that need extra watering, such as cacti and succulents, you’ll like this one.
Just make sure that the probes are at least four inches deep into the soil, or the readings will be less accurate!
We also like how sensitive it is to changes. It works well even with dry soil; you just have to wet the soil a bit with water. While it won’t give you detailed information, it’s still a very handy tool for measuring pH, light, and water levels in a pinch.
Our Editor’s Choice doesn’t require batteries or electricity to work! It’s beginner-friendly, as well, and is competitively priced.
However, the design could use some improvements…
The unit can be difficult to read, as the print is quite small. We wish the display were angled upwards too, but it’s not a big enough issue for us to be a deal-breaker.
Best Budget Soil Test Kit for Vegetable Garden – Best Value Award
SSAWcasa Soil Moisture Meter, 3-in-1 Soil Test Kit
- Very affordable
- Excellent moisture and light meter functions
- Fairly accurate pH meter
- Easy to use and read
- Suitable for indoor and outdoor use
- No batteries needed
- Great value for money
- The pH meter isn’t super accurate
- Requires extra care as it’s not the most durable
Now, if you don’t want to spend too much on pricey soil testing kits, you can’t go wrong with the SSAWcasa Soil Moisture Meter 3-in-1 Soil Test Kit.
This analog-type testing tool features a double sensor design with premium double-needle detection technology, which increases its efficiency, precision, and speed in analyzing soil pH, acidity, and moisture level of your soil.
It’s great for indoor and outdoor use, whether for your home potted plants or farms and gardens— it’s very lightweight, portable, and easy to carry anywhere. No batteries are required for this tool!
We like this device’s simplicity; it’s easy to use and read and takes some of the guesswork out of taking care of your plants. It helps control pH levels in the soil, determines when to water your plant, and whether you need to move it into direct light.
And you can do all those without any complicated method! All you have to do is shove the probes two to four inches into the soil, toggle the Moisture, Light, or pH switch, depending on your need, wait for a while, then take note of the results.
With this tool, we were able to provide our plants with the nutrients and hydration they needed. For one, we thought we were watering our tomato plants enough, but it turned out we actually weren’t. There were also times when we thought the soil looked dry, but after checking with this tool, the soil actually had sufficient moisture, and we would have been doing them no favours if we had added more water.
The pH meter is fairly accurate but gives you more of a range than an actual super accurate reading. If you just need an estimate, this is still a good tool. Plus, the light and moisture meter functions are great and make this product worth buying.
Overall, you’ll get plenty of bang for your buck with this tool, which is why we’re giving our Best Value award.
Just a warning…
Try not to insert the tool too deep into dry soil as the probes can bend or break; we learned about that the hard way. We like the product so much that we bought another one, but it could have been more durable.
Best Lightweight Soil Test Kit for Vegetable Garden – Top Pick Award
Kensizer Soil Tester, Soil Moisture/pH Meter, Gardening Farm Lawn Test Kit
- Helps plants thrive and get healthier
- The pH and moisture meters are quite accurate
- Measure soil moisture
- Very lightweight
- Easy to read
- Short wait time
- Durable probes
- Clear display
- Easy to insert into the soil
- Simple, easy-to-understand instructions
- We wish it had a separate instruction and information manual
- So-so light meter
The Kensizer Soil Tester Soil Moisture/pH Meter is definitely a game-changer for us. We like using this for our potted house plants, which have become noticeably healthier since we began using this months ago.
This soil testing kit comes with a clear reading dashboard and two sensor rods, one for testing pH levels and the other for moisture levels, and both are easy to insert into the soil.
Like the first two products on our list, this one doesn’t need batteries to operate either, just plug and play. The display features large letters and numbers, a precise arrow pointer, and a wide-scale interval, making it easy to read.
This tool is very helpful to us, as we own a wide variety of indoor plants with different moisture and pH requirements. Both the pH and moisture meters work like a charm; you just have to make sure you wipe the tips clean and dry after every use.
It’s pretty accurate, although we find that the moisture meter accuracy depends on how deep the probe goes into the soil. The tool works almost instantly, with only a minute of wait time.
In addition to that…
This tool helped us understand exactly why our plants were unhealthy. Specifically, we can now tell if the soil is acidic enough for our potted blueberry plants and also we can now avoid overwatering our plants and flowers, especially during the summer when we tend to overdo it. It gave us additional info on how to amend our soil properly.
And it’s super lightweight, as well! It’s great for on-the-go testing, with easy-to-understand instructions to boot. This tool made a world of difference for our plants and helped them thrive— with that, it gets our Top Pick award.
That being said…
We think the light meter is nothing to write home about, which shouldn’t be a problem if you’re getting this product mainly for the pH and moisture meters. Also, we wish the instructions and information were written on a separate manual instead of on the box, as the box can easily be forgotten and tossed away – but hey.
Best Features Soil Test Kit for Vegetable Garden
Luster Leaf 1601 Rapitest Test Kit for Soil
- Gives a general idea of the soil’s status and health
- Ideal for serious gardeners and farmers
- Fairly easy to use
- Can be used for up to 40 tests (10 for each nutrient)
- Color-coded components
- Very thorough instructions
- Comes with 4 comparators, 40 test capsules, a plastic dropper, instructions, fertilization guideline
- The test chamber’s opening could be wider
- The vials can be knocked over easily
For serious gardeners who want to know more about the status of their soil, the Luster Leaf 1601 Rapitest Test Kit is perfect.
Each kit comes with four color comparators for testing nutrients, a plastic dropper, forty test capsules (ten for each nutrient), complete instructions, fertilization guidelines, and a pH preference list for over 450 plants. We like that, unlike other kits, it has enough components to conduct multiple tests instead of only one.
At first glance, it can look complicated to use, especially for beginners. But it’s actually quite simple: Get some sample of your soil, take the comparator of the nutrient you want to test, then carefully fill the test chamber of the comparator with a tiny amount of soil and water (best to use distilled water), then shake vigorously. Let it sit for about ten minutes, then compare the color of the resulting liquid to the color chart to see where your soil stands as far as the nutrient level goes.
We like how straightforward the whole testing process is. The comparators and capsules in this kit are color-coded to avoid confusion, which is nice. This kit tests the soil’s pH, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash levels, so you’ll know which fertilizer you need, allowing you to make adjustments accordingly.
In our case, the plants in our garden weren’t growing well, so we already knew they were lacking some nutrients— this kit made it easy for us to remedy the nutrient deficiency. It’s quite easy to read, as well.
It’s not super precise by any means, but it’s a great kit if you just want a quick soil test to get a general idea of your soil’s status, which nutrients your soil is lacking, and which fertilizer you need.
You do need extra care when filling a test vial though, as the vials can easily be knocked over. The opening is also quite small, so it can be a bit hard to avoid soil and powder getting into the other chamber.
Best Soil Test Kit for Vegetable Garden with Digital Technology
Luster Leaf 1605 Digital Soil Test Kit for pH
- Very accurate soil readings
- Rapid results
- Prevents macronutrient deficiencies
- Evaluates soil pH levels, acidity, and alkalinity levels
- Surprisingly easy and enjoyable to use
- No need for manual color-matching
- Comes with 4 color-coded test tubes, 25 testing capsules, 1 test tube holder, 1 soil meter, 1 eye dropper, instructions, and 1 booklet guide
- Batteries included
- Filling the test tubes can be challenging as the opening is very narrow and the capsules are tiny
- Would’ve been better with color-coded buttons and labels
The Luster Leaf 1605 Digital Soil Test Kit is a great alternative if you find the color-matching method quite challenging
This kit is basically the Luster Leaf 1601’s digital version; it does the work for you, so you don’t have to compare colors to a color chart, which can be hard for some gardeners. It digitally measures pH, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash in your soil, using advanced LED digital technology and optical calibration system.
With each kit, you’ll get color-coded test tubes, twenty-five capsules (ten for pH and five each for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash), a test tube holder, an eye dropper, and complete instructions. Also included are batteries, a booklet with fertilization guidelines on test results, and a soil pH preference list to guide you on adjusting your soil’s pH for your specific plant.
The way it works is that you’ll take a test tube, get a capsule in a color that matches the tube’s cap, then put a portion of the soil samples inside. Add the capsule’s powder content, give it a good shake for about a minute, wait ten minutes for it to develop, then place the tube in the meter. Press one of the test buttons, and you’ll get your result in a matter of seconds!
Just to let you know, we used some vinegar first to test this, and we got a pretty accurate result, so we definitely know to trust this kit. It’s easyto use, and very useful in ensuring different areas in the garden have the right pH levels and there are no major deficiencies.
We like that you don’t need to be an expert to use this. The included guide is handy and helped us determine how to fertilize our soil properly. It’s also helpful for making adjustments like raising or lowering acidity, alkalinity, and all those things if need be.
But the catch is…
The testing tubes are very narrow, so it can be difficult to ensure you don’t spill the capsule powder when putting it in. It’s also not easy to hold the capsules as they are tiny. And in our opinion, it would’ve been better if the buttons and the labels below were color-coded, but it’s obviously not a major con.
Best Accurate Soil Test Kit For Vegetable Garden
MySoil – Soil Test Kit
- Super accurate
- Gives extremely detailed reports on the levels of pH, macronutrients, and micronutrients in your soil
- Provides fertilizer and products suited for your soil’s needs
- Allows you to track progress
- Convenient mailing process
- Easy to collect soil samples
- Clear instructions
- Not for anyone who wants instant soil test results
- We wish there were a soil probe included
The MySoil Soil Test Kit is a great option for gardeners who want super accurate results.
The kit contains a sample jar, a soil scoop with deionized water, a prepaid return mailing envelope, and easy-to-follow instructions.
So to start using this kit, you want to register online first at the company’s website. After that, begin collecting your soil sample. It’s recommended to take soil samples from five to seven spots within your garden or lawn and to push down six inches deep into the ground.
Next, take a container and mix together your soil samples in there; we personally just used the box the kit came in. Use the scooping tool to get a portion of the sample and dump it in the little jar that contains deionized water. Voila— you’re done, and you can now put it in the envelope!
It’s so easy to collect samples and mail them, as the prepaid envelope is already addressed to the company’s lab test; no need to worry about postage or anything like that, which is super convenient. After mailing it, you should have your results within six to eight days.
Now we’re getting to the cool part…
In our experience, we received the results online in just five days. We just logged in to the website, and the results were posted on our dashboard. The results page contains detailed yet easy-to-understand reports on the pH levels and measurements of macro and micronutrients in our soil, complete with a nice bar graph— very impressive.
Another great thing about this is that you can do multiple tests over time, and the results will all be uploaded and kept on your dashboard. This is a nice feature that allows you to compare results and track progress.
Along with that…
We also got information on how to properly amend our soil for healthy growth and fertilizer recommendations tailored to our soil’s needs! Very handy if you have no idea which products are best to use.
This product might not be for you if you don’t like waiting several days to get results, so keep that in mind. A soil probe would’ve been handy, but overall, we were very satisfied with this product.
Best Ready to use Soil Test Kit for Vegetable Garden
Soil Savvy – Soil Test Kit
- Tests the levels of pH and 14 crucial nutrients in the soil
- Gives fertilizer recommendations, both synthetic and organic, and recommended rates
- The report includes descriptions of various soil nutrients and how they affect plant health
- Not complicated to use
- Comes with 1 soil scoop, 1 soil jar, a customer card with instructions, and a prepaid envelope with a postage stamp
- Quite long wait period
- A bit pricey
The Soil Savvy Soil Test Kit is a professional-grade kit that’s simple and easy to use.
Like with the MySoil Test Kit, you simply have to collect soil samples, mail them out to the lab, and wait a few days to get the results. A soil scoop, soil jar with Soil Savvy® tester inside, Laboratory Submission and Customer Card with instructions, a soil jar, and an envelope with a prepaid postage stamp are provided with each kit.
The results highlight soil pH, the fourteen critical plant nutrients, and information on the roles they play in keeping plants healthy.
Also included in the results pages are organic and synthetic fertilizer recommendations, in the form of NPK @ (certain amount in pounds), making it easy for you to get the proper amount needed from fertilizer stores, therefore preventing over application.
On that account…
If you’re one of those frustrated gardeners who spent lots of money on various fertilizers and other products but still can’t get your lawn to look good, this kit might help you address underlying issues you don’t even know were there.
In our case, we learned that we were actually over-fertilizing, and we were also able to remedy our soil’s iron and nitrogen deficiencies thanks to this kit— our lawn is now healthy-looking and has a lush green color.
There’s a caveat, though…
This one has a bit of a longer waiting period than the MySoil Test Kit and is a tad pricier. But seeing the results on our lawn and much-improved soil health, it’s 100% worth the wait and the cost.
Best Successful Soil Test Kit for Vegetable Garden
Luster Leaf Products 1663 Professional Soil Kit
- Moderately accurate
- Tests pH, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash levels
- Easy to read results
- Includes test tubes, chemical reagents, filter pads, and instructions/guide booklet
- Comes in a sturdy plastic case
- Would’ve been better with a dropper included
- Not 100% accurate
Another good chemical test option is the Luster Leaf Products 1663 Professional Soil Kit. This kit tests your garden’s pH, nitrogen, phosphorous, and potash levels.
Housed in a durable plastic case, this kit has everything you need to test your soil effectively; there are test tubes, chemical reagents, filter pads, and very detailed instructions. The components are enough to conduct up to eighty tests, twenty for each nutrient and pH.
We like that it doesn’t require much soil. The results are quite easy to read, and we were able to detect issues before they worsen come planting season.
It also helped us to figure out what to add to the soil in our garden. After use, we can just store the components in the sturdy case, and we don’t have to worry about anything breaking.
Surprisingly, one of our favorite features of this kit is the booklet containing instructions and a pH preference list for different plants. We like the pictures demonstrating how to use the kit properly, and there are also very useful gardening and soil-altering tips, which beginners will surely like.
A dropper would’ve been nice, but we still highly recommend this kit to any gardener, especially for beginners who prefer doing lab-type testing at home. It’s not hard to use compared to other chemical soil tests and is reasonably accurate.
Best Easy to Read Soil Test Kit for Vegetable Garden
Luster Leaf 1601 Rapitest® Soil Test Kit
- Color-coded components
- Easy enough to use for beginners
- Contains components for up to 40 tests
- Comes with clear instructions and a guide for fertilization and soil adjustment
- The capsules can be a bit hard to open
- The testing process isn’t as fast as advertised
The Luster Leaf 1601 Rapitest® Soil Test Kit is something we’ll always recommend, as it’s the first soil test kit we used when we were just starting out in gardening.
We were intrigued by the idea of a chemical test kit, so we went for this one. When we finally got it, we honestly got a bit intimidated by it and thought it would be difficult to use. But like the other Luster Leaf products on our list, this one turned out to be fairly easy to use; you just have to follow the instructions carefully.
By the end of the testing process, we found that we actually enjoyed using this. We like that you can do multiple soil tests with this, and at a very affordable price at that!
The results are easy to decipher, even when we were beginners. Aside from pH and macronutrient analysis, this kit also provides instructions on how to amend your soil depending on the results you get. It gives suggestions on optimal nutrient levels for the plant you’re growing.
We immediately implemented some changes, going by the kit’s recommendations, and within a month, we noticed the grass on our garden and lawn looking much healthier!
One thing we should mention, though…
The process can take a long time. You have to wait for the soil and water mixture to settle for twenty-four hours, then wait for another ten minutes for the main test, so not sure about the “rapid test” claim. Don’t get me wrong, though; it’s still a great product and will give you good value for money.
Best Soil Test Kit for Vegetable Garden with Equipments
Rapitest Premium Soil Test Kit
- Efficient and effective
- Complete kit for conducting 80 tests
- Sturdy case for easy carrying
- Comes with a large pamphlet with instructions and information
- Refills for the liquid reagents aren’t available
- Not beginner-friendly
Taking the last spot on our list is the Rapitest Premium Soil Test Kit. If you don’t mind splurging a bit for a test kit, this kit is worth trying out.
It comes packaged in a sturdy carrying case, making it easy to bring anywhere. The kit also features liquid reagents and complete equipment for up to 80 tests.
This test kit definitely serves its purpose; it helped us figure out that our soil was actually depleted of nitrogen, and now our vegetable garden is flourishing after we started using nitrogen fertilizer!
With each kit, you’re also getting a large, informational pamphlet with recommendations on how to amend your soil. This kit made our last spring planting enjoyable and easy!
Just a heads up…
We don’t recommend it for beginners, as the process isn’t that simple; you’ll need some skill to use the syringe, for one. But it works like a champ, and once you get the hang of it, it becomes easier to work with. It’s kind of a bummer that you can’t get refills for the reagents, though.
Buyers Guide: How To Choose The Best Soil Test Kits For Vegetable Gardens
What are the different types of Soil Testing Kit?
Analog Soil Testers
Analog testers are mainly used to determine the soil’s pH levels and test soil moisture content, though some also test the amount and quality of sunlight the soil receives in a certain location. They use two to three probes that you insert into the ground to take readings.
Now, this type of tester is not as accurate as, say, a digital or professional testing kit, but it’s great for getting a general idea or rough estimate. It’s also easy to use, beginner-friendly and gives you quick results.
Chemical Testing Kits
These kits are quite easy to use— simply collect some soil samples, place them inside provided vials or test tubes, and add water and the powder content of the test capsules with colors that correspond with tubes’ caps. Shake well, then compare the color of the liquid to the color chart included in the kit, and you’ll get an idea of the nutrient levels in your soil. Some chemical testing kits come with liquid chemicals called reagents instead of capsules.
Similar to analog testers, this type won’t be 100% accurate but will give you a range of where your soil stands in terms of pH and nutrient levels.
Professional Soil Testing
If you want the most accurate type of testing, then professional testing kits are your best bet. As you can guess from the name, professionals conduct this type of soil test in laboratories. You collect soil samples, mail them to the lab, and get your results usually via email.
Professional testing can cost you more than other types of tests will. However, it will give you a detailed analysis and breakdown of your soil makeup, such as the amounts of nutrients like nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, are in there. Also often included in the results are suggestions on how to amend your soil based on the results. One downside to this test, though, is that you’ll have to wait for a week (or more) to get the results.
Things To Consider
Accuracy varies from one type to another, so keep that in mind when choosing which type of testing kit you should go for. Every gardener will also have different needs in terms of accuracy; your average backyard gardener would probably be satisfied with estimates, while more serious gardeners would need in-depth and accurate evaluations. Nothing beats professional testing when it comes to accuracy, so go for it if you’re one of the latter.
In general, the more accurate you want your results to be, the longer you’ll have to wait. As we’ve mentioned, professional testing is the most accurate form of testing, but the result time can range from five days to up to ten days. If you need results quickly, analog and digital soil testers are the way to go, but you should be okay with less-than-accurate results.
Ease of Use
A testing kit needs to be easy to use; therefore, clear and easy-to-understand instructions are necessary. If you’re a gardening beginner, ease of use is even more important, as you’re still figuring things out. Analog, digital, and professional testing take the cake for being user-friendly.
FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions
Q – How do I know if my soil is acidic or alkaline?
A – The best way to determine the acidity or alkalinity of your soil— also known as the soil pH— is to do a soil test.
Q – What is the best way to test your soil?
A – There are many types of soil tests, but you’re most likely to get an accurate result when you get your soil tested by professionals or by using a laboratory soil test kit.
Q – What are 3 of the most common methods used to test the soil?
A – Homemade soil testing, professional laboratory testing, and chemical testing are three of the most common soil testing methods.
Conclusion: Best Soil Test Kit For Vegetable Garden
A beautiful, flourishing garden starts with having healthy soil— and that’s why investing in a good soil test kit and regularly testing your soil are a must for gardeners.
To wrap this up, we’re going to give you our top three picks from this list:
The analog-type ATree Soil pH Meter 3-in-1 Soil Tester Kit, our Editor’s Choice, is fantastic if you need something that accurately measures pH, moisture, and sunlight while still being super easy to use. It’s also convenient to carry anywhere in the garden as it’s compact and lightweight.
For budget-friendly options, the SSAWcasa Soil Moisture Meter, 3-in-1 Soil Test Kit, which earned our Best Value award, would be an excellent choice. With this highly functional and fairly accurate test kit, you’ll get lots of bang for your buck— no batteries needed.
And lastly, the ultra-durable Kensizer Soil Tester Soil Moisture/pH Meter gets our Top Pick for being incredibly easy to use and read and for providing accurate readings, making it perfect for casual and serious gardeners alike.
We hope you found this article helpful in choosing a soil test kit.