Home Living Farm and Garden Free Garden Soil Testing Clinics

Free Garden Soil Testing Clinics

The University of Vermont Extension Service, in collaboration with the Master Gardener’s program, is offering two free clinics for home gardeners to identify potential lead contamination in their garden soil. 

Soil tests also can be purchased at any time by filling out forms available on the Extension Service website and delivering or mailing soil samples to the UVM Extension Service laboratory. Routine soil sample tests are $17 and manure analysis is $45. For details go to uvm.edu/extension/agricultural-and-environmental-testing-lab.

The free “bring your soil sample” events are walk-in; prior registration is not required. But proper preparation of samples is important. 

How to Collect a Soil Sample

It’s a good idea to wear clean garden gloves when collecting soils.

Step 1: Identify the area for your soil sample 

Plan to collect samples from areas with vegetable/edible plants only (no need to sample ornamental gardens). Soil from a large garden can be collected as one sample. If you have multiple, separate edible gardens in different locations, sample them separately. Limit of three sample bags per person.

Step 2: Collect soil.

To collect soil, dig from the surface down six to eight inches deep.

For a large area, collect soil from five to 10 random spots throughout the area and combine in a clean container. 

For a small area, collect soil from three random spots and combine in a clean container

Step 3: Mix soil well in a clean container.

Step 4: Remove pebbles, rocks, and roots, and air dry.

Do not use a flame, oven, or hairdryer to dry the soil!

Step 5: Transfer one to two cups of the mixed soil into a clean one-quart Ziploc bag.

Note: For more than one sample, repeat steps 1 through 5.  Rinse your container between samples. Limit of three sample bags per person.

Upcoming Soil Lead Screenings

Saturday, May 25, 2024

10 a.m. to 2 p.m., UVM Horticulture Research Center, 65 Green Mountain Drive, South Burlington. In collaboration with the Friends of the Hort Farm Annual Bloom Time Festival.

Saturday, June 1, 2024

9 a.m. to 12 noon, Godnick Adult Center, 1 Deer Street, Rutland. In collaboration with the Rutland Chapter Extension Master Gardener Annual Plant Sale.