electronic soil test meters

Hello,
I'd like to be able to monitor soil pH and N,P,K and was wondering if these electronic meters you can buy for $30 or so are worth the money? Anyone have any experience using these things? Are they remotely accurate? If not do you have any recommendations about a test kit to use? I'm not a pro, just a home gardener.
Thanks for the help ml
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I've seen numerous discussions here which suggest that the meters have definite limitations. If they all worked perfectly, their advantage would be as time savers. If you don't have the patience for throwing things away when they don't work, get yourself a test kit that uses chemicals & test tubes. It's a slower process, but you can make it more interesting by getting a white lab coat, spattering some fake blood on it, and laying on a thick Romanian accent while doing the tests. :-)
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Thanks for the tip but I'm not so about the Romanian accent. I think I remember reading that heavy Eastern European accents can skew the results. ;)
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wrote:

It depends on whether you're trying to test soil or build a monster in the basement. For the latter, the accent is essential.
The extra time for the chemical tests comes from having to label where the samples came from. And, at least for the kit I own, you have to let the soil dry before testing. You also need distilled water. That involves a 4 minute stop at the grocery store. That's major.
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On Tue, 25 Sep 2007 22:26:24 GMT, "Mark Levin"

Having been a greenhouse grower in very large operations I can tell you that I wish these worked, but they are woefully inadequate. Far better to send soil to have it tested.
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wrote:

My experience was that it was a waste of money.
Same for the cheapo moisture tester I tossed.
Follow Joe's advice. More accurate, more fun.
Charlie, the sucker.
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<Charlie> wrote in message > wrote:

Moisture tester: Finger, brains.
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On Wed, 26 Sep 2007 01:39:48 GMT, "JoeSpareBedroom"

Yeah, yeah......I'm a sucker for gadgets.
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You'd be better off getting a soil test from your state soils lab every 3-5 years. Usually about $10-20 for pH, P, K, and some micronutrients. N is very tricky to measure, even in a lab setting. Or you can buy a roll of pHydrion paper for about $10 and have a lifetime of pH testing that's accurate enough for gardening.
Haven't ever seen one of the cheapie meters give an accurate reading except by accident.
pH paper: http://www.enasco.com/Buscar.do?q=pHydrion&x=0&y=0
a couple soils labs with fairly typical fee schedules: http://plantsci.sdstate.edu/soiltest / http://uwlab.soils.wisc.edu/madison / http://njaes.rutgers.edu/soiltestinglab/services.asp http://www.soiltest.uconn.edu/#testing
Kay
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