Find out how to conduct a soil test and why you should do so before starting a new planting bed or a vegetable garden, or if you have some plants that aren't doing well and you want to know why.
LESLIE: Well, as you get ready for your spring planting, one piece of information that can really help you is knowing what type of soil you have.
TOM: You might think it’s a little too far to go for the home gardener or the do-it-yourself landscaper but it really is worth the effort. Here to tell us why is This Old House  host, Kevin O’Connor, and lawn and garden expert, Roger Cook .
And Kevin, getting your garden to grow is not so much about having a green thumb, because it is all really about the dirt.
KEVIN: You’ve got that right. In landscaping and gardening, it’s all about the dirt. But fortunately, you don’t have to guess what’s in your soil; you can find out exactly what type of soil you have and what you can do to improve it, with a simple test.
ROGER: And you need to know that to get the soil right, so things can grow. I like to do a soil test  whenever I’m opening a new planting bed, a vegetable garden or if I have a plant or group of plants that aren’t doing well.
A good soil test would tell you the composition of the soil, whether it’s sand, silt, clay and nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and potash; also, the acidity of the soil or pH and it’ll give you specific recommendations on how to amend your soil.
KEVIN: Alright. So how does a homeowner go about getting their soil tested?
ROGER: You can purchase at-home kits but you’ll get better results if you order a test through the local extension service of your state university. For a small fee – usually $10 to $20 – you can send a sample of soil to their lab for a complete analysis.
KEVIN: And for more information on how to get a soil test, go to ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: I’ll never think of dirt the same way again. (Kevin chuckles)
ROGER: Hey, Tom. Not dirt; it’s soil.
TOM: Ah. OK, I’ll remember that. Thanks, Roger. (Roger chuckles) Thanks, Kevin.
KEVIN: Our pleasure.
LESLIE: Alright. Those are great tips, guys.
If you want some more great, home improvement advice you can watch This Old House on television and This Old House is brought to you by Cub Cadet. Cub Cadet – you can’t do any better.