How to - Gardening Basics

Gardening from the ground up

Yvonne Cunnington
Photography by
Roger Yip

Discover the essential elements that make your garden grow

Testing Your Soil

Were your flowers and vegetables as lush and healthy as you'd hoped this year? If not, consider testing your soil for its nutrient content and pH (whether it's alkaline or acidic) to determine if it needs amending. Some experts recommend checking soil every three to five years, since rainfall and plants deplete it. Fall is the best time to test soil; it's after the growing season, but before the ground freezes. 

Contact a local soil-testing laboratory for more information about what it tests for (some include soil type, such as clay, muck, sand or the ideal, loam), what the analysis costs, if it includes recommendations in view of the results as well as what you want to grow, and how to take a soil sample. Here's a list of provincial and private laboratories found across Canada:

Norwest Labs
7217 Roper Road, Edmonton, Alberta T6B 3J4; (780) 438-5522; Toll Free in Western Canada: (800) 661-7645 ;

British Columbia
Griffin Labs Corp.
1875 Spall Rd., Kelowna, BC V1Y 4R2 (250) 765-3399;

M&B Research & Development
P.O. Box 2103, Sydney, B.C. V8L 3S6 (250) 656-1334;

Norwest Soilcon Labs
104, 19575-56A Ave. Surrey, BC, V3S 8P8; 604-514-3322 or 800- 889-1433;

Norwest Labs
1357 Dugald Road, Winnipeg, Manitoba R2J 0H3; (204) 982-8630; toll Free in Western Canada: (800) 483-3448 ;

New Brunswick

NB Agricultural Lab
NB Dept. Of Agriculture, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Box 6000, Fredericton, NB, E3B 5H1; 506-453-3495;

Newfoundland and Labrador
Soil Plant and Feed Laboratory
Department of Forest Resources and Agrifoods, Provincial Agriculture Building, Box 8700, Brookfield Road, St. John's, NF, A1B 4J6; 709-729-6638;

Nova Scotia
Laboratory Services
Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Quality Evaluation Division, Laboratory Services
176 College Road (Harlow Institute), Truro, Nova Scotia B2N 2P3;


A & L Canada Laboratories East, Inc.
2136 Jetstream Rd., London, ON, N5V 3P5 (519) 457-2575

Accutest Laboratories
146 Colonnade Rd., Unit 8, Nepean, ON, K2E 7Y1 (613) 727-5692

Agri-Food Laboratories
503 Imperial Rd., Guelph, ON, N1H 6T9 (519) 837-1600 or 800-265-7175

Soil and Nutrient Laboratory
University of Guelph, 95 Stone Rd. W., Guelph, ON N1H 2W1 (519) 767-6226

Stratford Agri Analysis Inc.
1131 Erie St., Box 760, Stratford, ON, N5A 6W1 (519) 273-4411 or 800-323-9089

Prince Edward Island

P.E.I. Soil and Feed Testing Lab
P.O. Box 1600, Research Station, Charlottetown, PEI C1A 7N3, 902-368-5631;
Will give organic results, if requested. Samples may also be left at your nearest District Agricultural Office.


Les Laboratoires A&L du Canada
465 3e Rang Nord, Saint Charles sur Richelieu, Quebec J0H 2G0; (514) 584-2151


Saskatchewan Soil Testing Lab
Department of Soil Science, General Purpose Building, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, S7N 0W0 (306) 966-6890

Enviro-Test Laboratories
819-58th St. East, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7K 6X5; (306) 668-8370; (800) 667-7645 ;

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