An important subject related to improving one’s success with a metal detector that does not receive much attention on social media is that of the Test Garden. Many detectorists will go “out back” and bury a few coins in their yard to see what their detector reads out and sounds like when they pass over them but hardly ANY detectorists go to the effort to make a precise and extensive Test Garden that can really help them immediately learn their detector’s capabilities… and weaknesses… and allow them to compare its performance with other detectors they may have or that are owned by friends.
Well, with 50 plus detecting years under my belt this “old pro” does recognize the value of having a Super Test Garden to hone my detector knowledge and skills even further. I do know that my Metal Detector Test Garden is far more comprehensive and detailed than the one the detector engineers had at the Garrett factory when I was the Marketing Manager there in the mid to late 70’s. Since there is “always a faster gun in town” I cannot say with certainty that it is the best Test Garden in the U.S. but I think it very likely that it would make the top 10.
In this article I want to give you a detailed look at my Super Test Garden, show you how I constructed it and… show how versatile it is in setting up many high-value-target vs. metal trash scenarios so that when you go out on your detecting sites you are a lot more likely to recognize “iffy” signals that indicate a good target next to a piece of metal trash. And not only that… see and hear the difference between different depths on the same kind of coin and… see those differences in depth when they are near a piece of metal trash.
To accomplish these goals, I will have to use quite a few pictures and drawings. Rather than have you jumping back and forth from the text here to the photos below, I will explain each photo and drawing in detail in a box to the right of each. I can assure all of you that you have never seen a Metal Detector Test Garden like this one and even if you are not inspired by it enough to build one as extensive, you should at least pick up some good ideas for making an adequate basic one for yourself. Keep in mind as you view this one, that the design can be customized at any time to include whatever additional high-value targets you are more focused on.
Let’s get started by first going to the photos and examining them carefully and after you do that… come back here for my final comments!
SUMMATION: It is indeed possible to learn the things that a good Test Garden will teach you about your detector settings and about detecting high-value targets at different depths by just going out and detecting on different sites. The problem with that, however, is that it will almost always take many months… or even years… to accomplish what can be done with a good Test Garden in days… or just a few weeks at most. And… while you are going through an “on-site” learning process, you will miss many great coins and jewelry finds that could have been yours if you had only known what they would sound like on your detector at different depths or in the presence of trash metal items like nails or pull tabs. And another great thing about your Super Test Garden is that it will already be there and just as valuable to learning the capabilities of your NEXT metal detector as it was your first one.
Are you SERIOUS about finding the deepest and oldest coins and rings on the old sites you hunt with your detector? Well, then… build your own Super Test Garden and use it to hone your detecting skills and excel in your metal detecting adventures much faster than you would have otherwise.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you decide to build your own Test Garden, MAKE SURE that the ground you choose to put it in has no other metal readings in it that could interfere with the results of your own detector testing. If it does have other metal signals in its soil and you are limited in choosing a different spot for the Test Garden, then be sure to dig every target detected on your metal detector in that area to be used before proceeding further.
Dorian Cook is a native of Huntington, West Virginia, and spent the greater part of his childhood growing up in the Appalachian Foothills near the small town of St. Albans. From age 10 to 17 much of his time was spent exploring those foothills and the old cabin ruins they contained, as well as fishing and trapping along the Coal River.
After graduation from St. Alban’s High School in 1965 he moved to Dallas, Texas, acquired landscape design and construction skills and started his own business which he maintained for 44 years. During the eighteen years spent in Texas he became involved in Civil War artifact rescue activities in which he discovered Civil War campsites and battlegrounds previously lost to history. To date, he has found and recovered over fourteen thousand Civil War artifacts from over 140 sites in 22 states… the majority of which now reside in museums from Texas to Cincinnati. He also spent nearly four years as the marketing and advertising manager for Garrett Metal Detectors. In addition, his responsibilities included field testing new metal detection equipment as it was developed by the company.
His travels in pursuit of nearly every aspect of treasure hunting, prospecting, and metal detecting have taken him to historical locations in 42 of the United States and six foreign countries, as well. He has participated in official archaeological excavations for the state of Texas Antiquities Commission and the nation of Israel’s Israeli Antiquities Authority. Recently, he located the actual battle site of the Kentucky Militia’s defeat at the famous Battle of Blue Licks (which the historians had marked in the wrong place in the Blue Licks State Park) in what is often called “The last battle of the Revolutionary War.”
He is the author of five books on Kentucky’s pioneer and Civil War history, as well as over 200 articles published in various metal detecting related magazines.
His love of discovering “the lost and the hidden” and his extensive field experience in searching for the same for the past forty-four years has led him into Bible-related archaeological explorations in Israel and Egypt and similar American history-related projects all across the United States, as well. These numerous experiences have helped hone his “History Detective” skills to a “sharp edge.” One of the main goals in all his journalistic efforts and public presentations is to pass on as many of those skills as possible to his readers.
He currently resides with his wife, on a small farm in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Northeastern Kentucky and remains active in metal detecting historical sites and sponsoring a Civil War history and relic hunting group on social media.