Dishing the Dirt on Soil Testing
by Barb Valenti, HAS Trustee

We recently held a class, “Soil: The Foundation of a Successful Garden” by Joan Nusbaum. She highly recommended having your soil analyzed before creating a new bed, be it vegetables, lawn or perennial garden bed. This lets you know the baseline (e.g., pH, nutrients, type of soil, etc) before you start amending or improving your soil.

Before planting our new vegetable beds in the Demonstration Gardens, we sent off for a soil test. The results came in and we learned that the composition of the soil is very good. It is high in organic matter, high in all macro and micro nutrients, but just a little low in manganese.

There are several options for obtaining an analysis of your soil sample, including:

• Colorado State University’s Soil, Water, and Plant Testing Laboratory (SWPTL). They offer comprehensive analyses of soil, water, plant tissue, manure, compost, and other agricultural material for $35 per test. The web page is: and address for mailing or dropping samples is:

Soil, Water and Plant Testing Lab

CSU Spur Terra Building

4780 National Western Drive

Room T-316

Denver, CO 80216

Phone: (970)491-5061


• WardLaboratories: 

Their routine test gives the same info as CSU lab for $22 per sample.

• Weld Laboratories: 

Their routine test provides enough information, in almost every case, for home gardeners for $20 per sample.