Q: What is “SOIL pH” and why is it important to pay attention to?

A: SOIL pH (or “potential hydrogen”) refers to the measure of acidity or alkalinity of a soil. As indicated in the diagram below, soil pH is charted on a scale between #1 (most acidic) to #14 (most alkaline), with #7 being neutral.

Apart from certain plants, for example hydrangeas and blueberries, that (in this case) prefer a slightly more acidic soil, most plants prefer a neutral leaning pH between 5.5 and 7.5, that offers better conditions by which more essential nutrients are made available to plants (nitrogen, magnesium, potassium, sulfur, phosphorus, calcium, etc.).

DIY SOIL PH

D.I.Y. SOIL pH TEST

It’s quick and easy! Here’s how! All you will need are the following items:

  •   2 GLASS JARS
  •   2 fistful sized SOIL SAMPLES (1 cup each)
  •   1/2 cup of VINEGAR
  •   1/2 cup of BAKING SODA
  •  1 cup of water.

HOW TO TEST for SOIL ALKALINITY:

  1. In the first jar, add soil sample (1 cup)
  2. Wet soil so that sample is slightly muddy
  3. Add 1/2 cup of Vinegar
  4. Stir contents. If the sample fizzes and bubbles, your soil pH is ALKALINE.
AMENDING SOIL:

To lower the pH of your soil, add any of the following:

  •  Organic compost/mulch
  •  Pine needles
  •  Peat Moss
  •  Sulfur

HOW TO TEST for SOIL ACIDITY:

  1. In the second jar, add soil sample (1 cup)
  2. Mix a 1/2 cup of water with 1/2 cup of baking soda
  3. Add mix to jar of soil and stir. If the sample fizzes and/ or bubbles, your soil pH is ACIDIC.
AMENDING SOIL:

To raise the pH of your soil sample, add any of the following:

  •  Organic compost/mulch
  •  Firewood ash
  •  Garden grade lime
  • Bone meal
IF THERE IS NO REACTION for either sample, your soil pH is NEUTRAL.

*This test is intended to give you a general idea of the pH of your soil. For a more accurate reading of the degree of acidity or alkalinity of your soil ( and therefore how much amendments are required to get your soil to neutral), you can purchase a soil tester kit at your local nursery/garden center.  Be sure to follow carefully the recommended amount of amendments such as lime and sulfur, etc.

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