Every vegetable garden benefits from a few inches of compost each year. But what about adding lime, other trace minerals, or fertilizer? To learn what you need, get a soil test. The University of Massachusetts
offers a $13 test to gardeners in all states that measures pH levels and any heavy metals, and identifies nutrients and organic matter that plants need. Shown: Finished compost looks like rich organic soil—dark and crumbly in texture, with no large chunks of material. To check if yours is ready, grab a handful, put it in a pot, and place a few grass seeds in it.