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I have been sieving my vermicompost for the last few days and now is the time to test it. It looks fantastic if i do say so myself.
Im hoping to find out what’s in their dirt — how much nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, magnesium, aluminum, lead and possibly other trace elements— and how acidic it is.
I need a reliable chemical tester (not a probe type) I have seen on here that a few people tried out testers a few years ago but there have been no results listed.
Can anyone recommend a good test kit, it does not have to go into as much detail as requested above but it would be great if i can get a reliable tester. Any help please?
Thanks Mrs Garden.
Yes, it will be the test tube type that i am looking at, can you name the brand you tried?
The soil analysis service they provide is very expensive and i will be looking at many samples this year.
RHS members: £25 per sample; non-members £30 per sample.
I've not used this, but it appears to be very reasonable http://www.gardening-naturally.com/acatalog/Large_Soil_Testing_Kit.html
Lots and lots of different kits and soil analysis services, Dove but not many (if any) reviews of them. I do like the look of the Mini professional soil testing kit that is at the bottom of your link but they are out of stock. I was hoping that someone had tried and tested one.
Edd wrote (see)
Thanks Mrs Garden. Yes, it will be the test tube type that i am looking at, can you name the brand you tried?
Sorry Edd, only just seen this. It was a B&Q test kit.
I have just read your other post on Mike Allen pH thread and thought i would answer here so as not to hog his thread.
Dove gave a link in the post above and i am looking at the 'mini professional soil testing kit' for £16.55 I think it is by Westminster but not 100% sure. They are out of stock at the moment so will try and find it elsewhere. The professional one is very expensive and Edd does not like to part with what little money he has.
I need the kit to check what is in my worm compost as i plan to sell it. Its not so much for the garden soil but i do agree totally with what you say. I will need to know what is in my worm compost so i can put it on the label.
Edd, just a thought but do you have a technical college or university near you? You could approach the science dept. and ask if they would analyse it for you?
artjak That is brilliant it had never crossed my mind .
Hi Edd, I just googled PH test reviews and the one that stood out was Luster Leaf 1612. It's American so most reviews were on Amazon US but they were consistently good, this one impressed me,
"I'm re-ordering this pH testing kit,because I've used up the pH tests of the first kit I bought. It's excellent. Contrary to what one other reviewer has said, it's extremely accurate. I had my pH tests repeated by the local Agway farm store manager and also by the County (Agricultural) Cooperative Extension agent. Both of their pH tests were exactly the same as those I got using the Luster Leaf pH tests.Instructions are very clear and simple. The test itself takes only about 3 to 5 minutes to do. (Though if you go on to test N, P, and K with Luster Leaf's test kit for those elements, those tests will take a few hours - hands on time for those other tests is still only a few minutes though)."
I did find it on Amazon UK, £6.43 for ten.
Thank you so much for your indepth report. I promise i will look into it, especially at that price!!!
I need in depth analysis and just a bit more than a pH test, thanks. I will look into this and let you know.
Artjak came up with a solution that blew me away. I would have never thought of it and it is so cool if it works.
Give a bit of time and i will let you know.
Sorry, did you know i do not pay for anything if i can help it!!!!!!
Brought a soil test kit from base base in desperation(couldn't find one anywhere)
Soil/rainwater type and was quite effective giving 4 soil ph tests for £8
Edd, we should have a thread about cheap and preferably free gardening solutions. I spent some time today researching plants I would have in and around the pond I haven't got and it came to £130! This forum's great but every time some one mentions a plant they love I look it up and love it too. The wish list is getting very long.
Ok. The year is nearly over and i have been trying many things to test my soil. ( on land and my worm compost )
The main thing to me is, testing the worm compost as i sell it and give it away, too much, but have no idea what it contains. ( how can i procrastinate the benefits of worm compost, nutrients, if i do not truly know, what is in it!)
Well the facts are i have tried.
I used Dovefromabove link from above and bought the Mini Professional Soil Testing Kit. from Gardening-Naturally For £15.99 it gave 80 tests of PH and NPK. 20 of each. (thats 20 tests for each) I also asked to use the new kids at my local collage for (experience, for them.) Someone mentioned this to me so i ask about this unknown sump of knowledge. (WOW)
I did not expect any reply but they where keen and looked at my worm poo samples and gave results within 3 days. Now me being a tight B***ard i disputed their results and sent off a new sample (same batch) to be tested again. They replied again within 3 days (less weekend).
I also gave a bag of worm poo (free) to a neighbour and she said she would put it through the expense of the RHS (expensive soil test) just to see how the results came out, so she and i could see the results.
So the options where (1)Gardening-Naturally Mini professional soil testing kit ( that i have been using for about a 3/4 of a year.) (2)or the results from the local collage ( for experience testing purposes ) (3)or the neighbour who spent a fortune with RHS and used the same sample ( batch. Small rice/ onion bag or about 1/3 of a fertiliser sack. (ish Sample?) From the same batch. RESULTS. ( REMEMBER I ONLY ASKED FOR pH and NPK. values as this is the best that the soil testing kit can do))
The soil testing kit gave results within hours. The Collage gave results within 2/3 days ( that includes e-mail and i got phone calls requesting if i wanted to know what my worm poo had too much of!!!. I know it is good and that is why you only use 40% as i think its too much ) What can i say! They never said it was lacking in anything.
RHS took ages, but did come up with the most in-depth report of nutrients and trace elements in the soil and where i could BUY!! These amending nutrients from!!! Between all three/ four tests (collage twice, remember) there was only a 0.12 difference between the basic 4 tests. THAT WAS IT ! All from the same sample bag and tested twice in one case.
My further results from the test kit have proved reliable but the price for a new Mini Professional Soil Testing Kit from Gardening-Naturally has gone up to £20.91.( inc postage) I tried to sneak a 10% off voucher code but they e-mailed me back saying it was a no go ( i do try ) Any way, apart from the basic litmus paper test for pH in soil (mixture of different dyes extracted from lichens! isn't nature wonderful!!!!) This kit is great and i will use it again. (The local collage were just as good and free. Not sure how much longer i can abuse them for.) Hope this answers my own question and helps others.
Edd, what were the results?
Combined results from 10 samples of my vermicompost over 10 months (approx)
(a) pH 7-8.2
(b) Organic carbon 12 – 17.98%
(c) Nitrogen 1.50-2.00%
(d) Phosphorus 0.9 – 1.7 %
(e) Potassium 1.05-1.20%
(f) Calcium 0.4-0.8%
(g) Magnesium 0.3-0.6%
(h) Sulphates 0.5%
(i) Iron 0.6%
(j) Zinc 300-700 ppm*
(k) Manganese 250-740 ppm
(l) Copper 200-375 ppm
And other micro nutrients with vitamins, enzymes and hormones.
*ppm - parts per million
That might seem low compared with commercial fertilizer. However, the value of vermicompost (or worm castings) is more significant than a standard N-P-K fertilizer scale would suggest.
"Vermicompost is far more complex than chemical fertilizer, and it contains many other substances (biological and chemical that improve soil and support healthy plants. Some of these include humus, worm mucus, and plant growth promoters like cytokinins. In addition, vermicompost commonly contains ten times as much micro organism activity as plain soil (microscopic bacteria and fungi).
The micro organisms in the vermicompost are able to provide the plant with everything it needs to be healthy. Because the compost is a living system there is no excess fertilizer to run off. The humus and worm mucus in the vermicompost helps the soil hold more water, retain its structure and keeps it aerated, while also providing binding sites for micro-nutrients that would otherwise wash out of soil during heavy rains."
The nutrients content in vermicompost vary depending on the waste materials that is being used for compost preparation. If the waste materials are heterogeneous (diverse in character or content), there will be a wide range of nutrients available in the compost. If the waste materials are homogenous (all of a similar kind like pure manure.), there will be only certain nutrients that are available. The vermicompost that i use is varied with food scraps/garden waste and eggshell with cardboard as the main bedding material. No manure (in this batch) but lots of Comfrey added. Air-dried powdered comfrey leaf tissues has a NPK ratio of 1.80-0.50-5.30. compared to animal manure (below).
Dairy Cow: .25-.15-.25
Steer: .70-.30-.40Horse: .70-.30-.60Sheep: .70-.30-.90Chicken: 1.1-.80-.50Rabbit: 2.4-1.4-.60
If you don’t think the NPK ratio of the dried leaves from Comfrey is impressive enough, you can also make a concentrated liquid fertilizer out of comfrey with an NPK ratio of about 8-2.60-20.50! (Although you’ll want to dilute this before use.)
I use worm tea as i hope to get the best of both worlds. The debate on vermicompost as a pest and disease control is still on going but i do think it makes a big difference. The problem i have is that i have far too much fun with worms.