How to Test Soil Quality


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Hi, we have an above-ground vegetable garden built by the previous owners. When we bought the house 1 year ago, the vegetables were growing well. We tried running greywater but my wife forgot and stain remover ended up in the soil, which killed some of the plants. Since then, plants haven't grown very well at all - although I tested the pH a while back, and it seemed fine. We now want to dismantle the garden bed and relocate the soil, but we're not sure if it is any good. As I've been digging down through it (the bed is almost 1 metre deep) its clear that there have ben many generations of gardens there, with different soils added. Also many roots coming up, we suspect from a nearby Celtis tree. The borders of the garden bed are lined with weed mat which lets some water through, but around the edges the soil has a white substance caking it - which I think maybe greywater contamination.

Long story short - how do we find out if this soil is any good to use? Is it just down to pH, or are there other things to consider? Is there any danger that the soil will 'poison' where ever we put it? I am very new to gardening and know almost nothing about soil.
 
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Few things to consider. Whats the soil type? like is it clay, sandy, loam, etc. Is the soil compacted, like is it hard as a rock? How was the PH test conducted? Did you use one of those 3 in one devices? I recommend you use a PH test kit with the 2 bottles of chemicals, not those probe devices. When the plants died what were the symptoms?

The soil probably just needs improving by adding compost, manure, etc and adjust the PH to whatever the PH level the plants need by adding lime to increase PH or sulphur to decrease the PH. If the soil is compacted clay you could add compost or gypsum to break the clay and turn it into usable clay soil.
 
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The pH was tested with a pool kit, so may have not been spot on. I'll get a soil tester kit and retest.

The soil is gravelly down the bottom. Throughout the bulk, it is hard to tell because there are many roots throughout. There are patches of dark richer soil, and patches of quite light and dry looking soil. Sorry, I don't now the technical terms.
 

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