Many organizations offer garden-related services, like soil testing or plant identification.
The Soil & Plant Nutrient Testing Laboratory at UMASS Amherst offers soil testing for nutrients, pH levels, and soil contamination and more.
To submit a sample to the lab, download the form from their website and follow the sample collection guidelines. Complete the submission form and mail to the lab. There is information on the website about how to choose which test you need, how to collect soil samples, and how to interpret the test results.
The Routine Soil Analysis includes nutrients, pH and lead levels and costs $20 per sample (with organic matter levels an additional $6). If you are considering growing in urban soils or potentially contaminated soils, you should also get the Total Sorbed Metals Test, a comprehensive heavy metals test that costs $70 per sample.
The URI Master Gardener Core Training is a 14-week course exploring the science behind environmentally-sound gardening. Graduates of the course serve as volunteer educators for residents, children, community gardeners and families. Classes are held in the evening at URI in Kingston and are taught by URI faculty and other experts. Register by November; classes begin in January. Cost: $475 A few partial scholarships are available.
Other workshops are also offered around the state. Sign up for their newsletter to learn about upcoming events at: https://web.uri.edu/coopext/newsletter-sign-up-form/ or visit their event website at: https://web.uri.edu/coopext/events/
URI also has online resources to help answer your gardening questions:
URI Gardening and Environmental Hotline is a free service that provides high-quality, science-based solutions to problems encountered by residential gardeners. It is staffed by trained URI Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners who will connect you to science-based horticultural information via phone, email or walk-in. You can directly email the URI Gardening Hotline at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (401) 874-4836 from March-October, Monday-Thursday, 9 am – 2 pm.
RI Native Plant Guide is a digital, interactive searchable database of plants native to Rhode Island. https://web.uri.edu/rinativeplants/
Other resources including the RI Planting Calendar and Weed Identification sheets are located at https://web.uri.edu/mastergardener/gardening-resources/