How to Gather a Soil Sample
Gather a soil sample from two to three inches below the surface of the ground using a clean instrument such as a soil sampler, trowel or spoon. Test results are sensitive to external factors such as ashes. Therefore, never smoke while gathering or testing your soil and avoid touching the sample with your hands. Put samples in clean containers and label according to which part of the garden they were gathered from. Samples should be taken from various areas, especially when there is a change in the elevation of the land or where there might be a variation in the soil (a particularly sunny spot, an area beneath a tree, a part of your garden that has been under cultivation, or low-lying areas which collect water). It is best to take samples from each corner and the center of the plot in any case. The soil should not be too wet. If it is not dry enough to walk on, allow it to air dry naturally rather than over direct heat. Remove solids and debris such as stones and pieces of wood without touching the soil. Crumble soil as finely as possible. This is easily accomplished by putting the sample in a plastic bag and crumbling or going over it with a rolling pin. Your sample is now ready for soil testing and/or percolation testing.