Garden Soil pH ... Not To Be Overlooked

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pHMost people that are new to gardening would never even consider the pH level of their garden soil.

The reason people test their soil is because most plants grow their best when the pH level of the garden soil tests between 6 and 7. You want to have soil where the plants are happiest and able to produce the most vegetables. If a plant is trying to grow in the wrong pH soil, it will lack the nutrients that it requires. Although there are some exceptions, the recommended pH range for your garden soil is right around 6 or 7 because this is the area where most nutrients are readily available to your plants.

You can buy a soil test kit at most good garden centers or have your soil professionally tested.
The pH measurement you will be testing for is based on a number between 1 and 14. If your soil tests 7, then it is neutral, if it tests higher than 7 it is considered alkaline and if it tests lower than 7 it is considered acidic.

The pH of your soil tells you whether your soil is acid or alkaline.

  • pH greater than 7 is alkaline

  • pH of 7 is neutral

  • pH less than 7 is acidic

You may recognize the pH of products you use every day around the house without even knowing about pH. For example distilled water is perfectly balanced at 7. Battery acid has a pH of 0.3 (acidic) and way down the scale; milk of magnesia has a pH of 10.5 (alkaline).

While the pH scale of 1 to 14 doesn't sound very precise due to the small spread in numbers, it should be understood that the scale is considered logarithmic, meaning that each pH value above 7 is TEN TIMES more alkaline or basic than the number before it. The same holds true for each pH number below 7, ten times more acidic than each number before it.

There are ways to render your soil more acidic or more alkaline, just as you would add hot water to cold to make the water warm. For example you can correct an acidic soil by adding agricultural limestone to your garden soil. Similarly you could add liquid seaweed to correct an alkaline soil test. Always refer to the manufacturer's instructions and recommendations as well as your soil test for direction.

Soil testing isn't only for gardening fanatics and professionals, but the average gardener as well. Adjusting or maintaining your soil to the correct pH levels will make more nutrients available to your plants without adding additional fertilizer.

It may take months to adjust your soil pH but in the end, your garden will be more fertile and healthy and even more economical to maintain.