plants sprouting in dark soil
Image by Alex Sartori

Knowing the pH and nutrient content of your soil is important to successful growing.

Soils & Climate

Hotline & Horticultural Lab Samples as of April 1st

Our Albany County Master Gardener Hotline is now operating daily, Monday-Friday from 9am-Noon with minimal staffing.Therefore, we ask for your patience in giving us time to respond to your calls and emails.Call 518-765-3514 or email

Our offices and Horticultural Lab remain closed to the public but we have a drop box outside the front door.Please call our hotline for directions and fillable intake forms for dropping off samples, call 518-765-3514 or email

We are now accepting the following samples:

  • Insect, weed & plant samples for identification
  • Plant samples for diagnosis
  • Soil samples for pH testing ONLY

For Soil Nutrient testing which includes pH, we ask that you contact Dairy One/Agro1 Lab directly to order testing kit either from their website via phone 800-344-2697. They will then mail you the testing kit and correct form for submission.

Soil Texture. This factsheet discusses the four soil texture classifications of sands, silts, loams and clays; how they combine to make textural classifications; how soil texture is determined; and the 5 soil management groups in New York State.

Soil Organic Matter. This factsheet describes types of organic matter in soil; their physical, chemical & biological benefits; farm practices that help maintain or increase soil organic matter levels; and the importance of continued monitoring of soil organic matter content.

The Cornell Soil Health website offers a variety of resources on soil testing and improvement.

Soil Testing. Visit our page on "How to take a soil sample" for testing and see what Soil Testing Services are offered by or through Cooperative Extension.


Growing Degree Days (GDD) are a measure of heat accumulation used by horticulturalists to predict the date that a flower will bloom or a crop reach maturity. Statistics for the Northeast are provided on this Cornell Atmospheric Sciences & Turf Team website.

Cornell Gardening page with information on average dates for last spring frost and first fall frost, US hardiness zone map, and microclimates.

Last updated April 1, 2021