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Test Garden .. My 55+ years of experience suggest this.

October 15, 2020 02:08PM avatar
Hi All, Quick questions. If you were to build a test garden what coins and other targets would you bury and at what depths?

Coins? I live here in the USA so I would consider using all of the coin metal varieties we have used. Additionally, if I lived back in the greater Portland Oregon metro area, I would also consider using a good assortment of the Canadian coins, simply because during the ±44 'detecting years' I lived around there, I found a lot of Canadian coins. Mostly better copper Cents, but a good number of Nickels and Dimes, plus a few of their Large Cents and silver 5¢ pieces like we call our similar-size Half-Dimes, and occasionally also their newer $1 and $2 Loonies an Toonies.

As for other stuff to learn with I can't forget one of my all-time favorite targets, and those are Trade Tokens. Those can be found from very small-diameter Transit Tokens to all those that run from about Penny, or Nickel or Quarter-size on up to even bigger Tokens the size of a silver US $1 coin. Tokens can be made out of various mixes of copper and brass, plus aluminum, to include both solid aluminum and the 'wafer' type with an aluminum outer covering. Due to their sizes and shapes and metal alloy make-up, they can run a broad conductivity range, as do the many sizes, shapes and alloys of our US coins.

I would also want to find good silver and gold jewelry, and when you consider the tiny toe rings, ear rings, small and thin ankle chains and wrist chains, and a very broad-range of sizes, shapes and alloy content of children's, women's and men's rings, and we can't ignore things like broaches and pendants and such. Looking back over the many decades of good jewelry recovery using detectors with a visual Target ID display, I have found all of these different items in a VDI range from ± the ferrous / non-ferrous break-point all the way up to three 24-K rings that locked-on as a 1¢ / 10¢ coin.

Also try and think back about anything else you might have found during your years of detecting that was 'interesting' and you might like to find again. There could be several things, such as any of these:

• Chauffeurs Badge
• Police Badge
• Military Buttons
• Military Insignia
• Ornate Buttons
• Unusual and attractive jewelry items
• Skeleton Keys and other unique Keys
• Locks that used the mentioned Keys
• Small Metal Toys
• Suspender and other garment Buckles and Fasteners

Odds are you can think of even more items you might like to find and therefore want to check out on your different detectors to see where the Disc. needs to be to not reject them, and take a look at the VDI response. Remember, that will be different from one model to another model, even from the same manufacturer.

Once you have made a list of all the suggested I've mentioned in the post reply so far, you'll want to gather up a good assortment of them. When you do, make sure you get at least 5 each of each specimen listed. And that's just for starters. eye popping smiley I'll explain as we go on..

Was thinking Doin copper cents at 6, 8, and 10 inches, and doin the same for nickels , dimes and Quarters.

Yes, you have to use all the different sizes and shapes and alloy content coins and other sample targets. But at what depths? This gets interesting, too, because once you talk about 'depth' you are including some type and amount of earthen material between the surface and the test sample. That will, or usually can, make a difference. Now you need to factor in the type of material you might be dealing with, how porous or solid it might be, and the amount of iron mineralization the detector will then have to be able to handle and process to pass along a good-target signal.

Oh, let's not forget that in some conditions it might be very dry from surface to target, or it might be damp to wet to very wet, and in your chunk of the country, it can get very wet at times. And when 'wetness' in factored into the equation, you have to know if it is damp, surface wet to an inch to maybe three inches, or if it is saturated all the way to the good-target depth.

Back to the earthen material ......

Generally, most urban Coin Hunters are working a grassy park or school or yard, a parking strip or other easement, and maybe a place might just be bare dirt without any grass. If the soil is bare or grass-covered and is a 'normal' or 'average' type of dirt, then the challenges will also be 'average' or 'normal' you might say. For improved depth and general performance with very little material interference on performance, you might get into a very well-maintained tot-lot type playground where there is a deep layer of bark-chip or wood-chip or shaved wood that might be ±12" deep. That would be a very favorable matrix to hunt in with minimal interference from the material itself, and keep the coil a good distance from the ground mineral under the fill-material.

But, life isn't always so easy. You might want to hunt a volleyball court that is made up of dark, black, playground sand that is, essentially, like hunting in black sand and the amount of challenging iron mineralization can impact how you hunt as well as performance. Search coil sweep speed is almost always going to have to be slowed down quite a bit, and the depth of detection can be reduced, the audio and visual responses can be impacted, and things are just different.

I also discussed recently hunting in tougher conditions, such as pea gravel. You'll encounter that in many playground or decorative areas, and it can get worse from that as you hunt in slightly 'chunkier' size rocks on up to some decorative flattish-shaped rocks that might be palm-size to hand-size. When you get into solid rocks you start dealing with what I refer to as an 'Intense mineral Body' or 'IMB' and, trust me, you'll be surprised how some makes and models struggle to detect a Penny or Nickel or Dime if they have a 1½" thick rock on top of them.

Now, back to the 'depth' question ....

6" is quite often closer to the deeper coin-depths I generally deal with. Most coins, in most typical undisturbed and unaltered sites, are located somewhere between surface and 4", and 4" to 6" are more-or-less the mid-depth ranges. When I am 6"+ it is a deeper coin, and those are seldom deeper than 8" in a natural setting. 'Natural?' That would be an undisturbed site that hasn't been dug, tilled, filled covered or otherwise altered.

Have i found deep coins in the past" Yes, and mostly without using a 'modern' high-tech digitally-designed model, either. April of 1969, Walking Liberty Half-Dollar at about 8" to 9" under a swing set seat at Mt. Ogden Park in Ogden Utah using a White's Ghost Towner BFO w/6" coil. I found a large-size Chinese Cash Coin at between 9" and 10" in a ghost town in Utah in 1984, I believe, with a Tesoro Inca using an 7" Concentric coil. I have found some coins deeper than 6" now and then, but those come very, very seldom. I am referring to actual observed and measured coin-depths.

I also know that I have used some detectors that are supposed to be good, like a particular Fisher CZ w/8" Concentric coil that couldn't hit on a freshly-buried Copper Cent or Jefferson Nickel laying flat in a 4" plugged hole at a Park in SE Portland, Oregon. I walked to my vehicle and swapped the CZ for a Tesoro Bandido II w/7" Concentric and modified White's Classic ID w/6½" Concentric and both of those hit on those buried targets cleanly. I have used several detectors with two or more coils only to find they didn't do well on coins at over 5" in 'average' urban Coin Hunting conditions while others did. So, I wouldn't be all that concerned about intentionally burying a target at a certain deeper depth unless it was practical. To me, it isn't, especially at over 6" depths.

Before I continue, let's reflect back on having at least 5 of each sample target as I suggested earlier:

Why? One reason is because you are not always going to encounter a properly-shaped target in a nice-and-proper, laying flat-to-the-coil orientation. Plant a 1¢ coin 'flat' and then plant one 'canted' on a 45° angle slanted to the left, and another at a 45° angle slanted towards you. Another should be planted 'on-edge', and the 5th coin should be bent or mangled in some fashion as if hit my a mower or driven over or someone smashed it or in some other shape that isn't 'perfect'

That would present a 1¢ coin in 5 different orientations that you might encounter, if buried in 'natural' dirt, at let's say a 3" depth. Get 5 more similar 1¢ coins and duplicate that at 5" and five at 8" to be more realistic, and if you use your imagination do five of them at 10".That would include 5-1¢ coins, at 3", 5", 8" and 10" to total 20-1¢ coins.

Then, if you have a big enough 'Test Garden', gather 20 5¢ coins, 20-10¢ coins and might as well get 20-25¢ coins to complete all the 'gardening' you'll do. But that was only those common coins. What about the odd size and type coins? The 2¢, 3¢ Half-Dimes or bigger Silver 50¢ or $1 coins? How about various pieces of jewelry? That gets even tougher because if you have 20 size-7 gold rings all the same size and shape and all 10-K to plant at 3", what about all the gold rings for the other depths?

How about bigger-size rings and smaller-size rings, or the bracelets or charms or pendants? Match all the same sizes and shapes and 'k' rating and it would cost you a lot of $$$$ to buy the sample targets you need to bury IF you want to make a totally effective 'Test Garden.' Oh, we can't forget using both a row of Zinc Cents and another with better Copper Cents, nor should we ignore Clad Dime and Clad Quarter rows along with rows of Silver Dimes and Silver Quarters.

In the next section of a 'garden' you can do all the many rows for different types of Trade Tokens, Keys, Buttons and on and on and on .....

And that was in dirt. Now you have to gather all the sample targets needed to do all the 'planting' in black sand, then in a mix of pea gravel, then in a mixture of rocks you might see in a parking lot or similar setting on up to the 'palm-size' to 'hand-size' flatter rocks.

Deep? How Deep? Well, again you need to reflect on the honest-depth recoveries you usually make and base any 'testing' on those common target positions.

Would it be a good idea. To do some iron next to some coins also?

Yes, if you think you are ever going to hunt any type of site that might have Iron Nails present, then buy another set of coins and do it with 1, 2, 3 or 4 Iron Nails around each coin. Then with 1-to-4 Iron Nails positioned below the coin ... and with some almost touching and another planting with one or more Iron Nails at 1" to 4" below a Coin. Duplicate that with each coin size and type using 1-to-4 Iron Nails positioned on, close to, or up to 3" or so above the sample test coin. And with a 'flat' coin, do it with a Nail 'on-end' and again with an Iron Nail lengthwise to the coil sweep, and cross-wise to the coil sweep, and let's not forget to cant a Nail. Do some with the point of the Nail by the coin and some with the head of a Nail close to a coin.

May do some pulltabs all so.

Oh, we can't forget pull-tabs. Let's gather up a lof of the separated Beaver-Tails and Ring-Pulls, and complete Ring-Pull Tabs, and some that are twisted and some with the Beaver-Tail curled into the Ring portion. Gather up all of the modern Rectangular Pry-Tabs, too, even though most of them almost duplicate the VDI and audio response of a US 5¢ coin. Might just as well take a look and see what their VDI's are at different depths and orientations in the ground. Why not, since such a big percentage of the better gold jewelry we hope to find falls anywhere in the broad-range of conductivities of the Ring-Pull Tabs, Tab Parts, and the Rectangular Pry-Tabs.

All opinions are Welcome. Thanks in advance, Don

thinking -- Maybe I should have simply started here with your last request and ignored all the other suggestions, and this will make it rather easy:
My Personal Opinions Regarding a 'Test Garden ..

The work has already been done for you. Freshly-located coins, some already in an assortment of depths and orientations, and some with various amounts of both ferrous and non-ferrous debris close to them to deal with. Some have been buried and left undisturbed for one years to well over one-hundred years, and that means the detector won't have to struggle with a freshly-disturbed ground from a fresh-bury test coin.

You can walk out your door and search your front, side or back yard from various angles-of-approach. Check out a parking strip, or visit a local park, school, sports field or any site that has enjoyed human-use for a good period of time to generate pocket-loss and jewelry-loss and you're good-to-go. A wide variety of coins to be found, domestic and foreign, plus tokens, buttons and all sorts of naturally-lost objects in THEIR natural position, depth and orientation to the coil sweep.

Everything anyone really needs is already there and searching different places with different detectors and settings and search coils is going to educate us 'naturally' on what we can find, what depths god targets might be at, and how our different makes and models and settings and coils are going to work for us. Don't waster your time digging to bury and hide something .... just dig to recover what you have found. Pretty darn simple approach to success, if you ask me, and along the way we can all learn more about how things work, what's out there, and just how much fun things can be.

We have to appreciate the fact that there's no perfect detector or coil or way to find everything out there. It's generally better to own and use at least two or more detectors, master them, use them with the least amount of Discrimination we can tolerate and the highest Sensitivity or Gain level we can w/o instability, then be patient and persistent. Work any site slowly and methodically with the best settings we can, then recover the good signals and enjoy success.

Simple approach to proven success ... no gardening required.


Prove all,this to yourself. Take a notepad and pen. Go search several different types of sites, with minimum Discrimination and Sensitivity as high as you can. Locate and recover ALL of the good or reasonably 'iffy' responses. Carefully. Take your time getting to the located target to measure the actual honest depth, and note what the target is and it's orientation in the ground. Write all this down in your notebook, to include what you heard and how the detector reported the target on the visual display. Also, jot down any other nearby masking metal objects, such as an Iron Nail or a piece of Foil or anything. Check each recovered target spot closely to know what was there, if anything, that might have impacted the detector's performance.

Do this until you have recovered no fewer than 200 good, desired targets, such as Coins, then check the notes. All of them should be recorded, and note the target actual measured depth, position, and all the other info per-target. Then, after searching, finding, recovering and recording ALL of the 200 minimum good targets, make YOUR OWN decision if there was enough useful recorded information to justify making any sort of a 'test garden' or not. Odds are, there won't be,

"Your EYES ... the only 100% accurate form of Discrimination!"

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Subject Author Views Posted

Test Garden

DW-BGW 67 October 14, 2020 07:15PM

Test Garden .. My 55+ years of experience suggest this.

Monte 63 October 15, 2020 02:08PM

I would have lost money if I had bet on your answer Monte -

UtahRich 36 October 15, 2020 07:48PM

Medium Rare please smiling smiley

OregonGregg 31 October 16, 2020 04:37AM

Lip Smackin' good dinner -

UtahRich 31 October 16, 2020 02:42PM

Re: Lip Smackin' good dinner -

OregonGregg 27 October 16, 2020 07:35PM

ahhhh - hmmmm.

UtahRich 23 October 16, 2020 07:38PM

Answers = Hours ... but learning any Answer for a new detector or an update can take a matter of minutes

Monte 37 October 16, 2020 01:34AM

Where's Waldo ?

UtahRich 35 October 16, 2020 03:17PM

Re: Where's Waldo ?

OregonGregg 28 October 16, 2020 07:33PM

Which way did he go ?

UtahRich 24 October 16, 2020 07:36PM

'Test Samples' are good. A 'simple' test plot isn't bad. --- Just as long as the tester knows *****

Monte 29 October 16, 2020 04:24PM

Please Do NOT Adjust Your Dial ! eye popping smiley N/T

UtahRich 26 October 16, 2020 04:52PM

Re: Test Garden .. My 55+ years of experience suggest this.

DW-BGW 33 October 15, 2020 07:23PM

My test gardens are over 20 years oldeye popping smiley

Hombre 39 October 15, 2020 12:25PM

Setting up a Test garden.

UtahRich 33 October 15, 2020 03:15PM

Re: My test gardens are over 20 years oldeye popping smiley

DW-BGW 34 October 15, 2020 12:44PM

Re: Test Garden

D&P-OR 53 October 14, 2020 08:14PM

Re: Test Garden

DW-BGW 33 October 15, 2020 08:35AM

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