Soil pH

Do you know what the pH of your soil is?  Did you know that soil has pH? Soil pH measures the acidity or Alkaline level of the soil on a scale from 0-14. A pH below 7 is considered acidic, 7 is neutral, and above 7 is considered alkaline.  Why is this important? Well, not all plants like the same growing conditions, so it is vital to understand what your current soil pH level is and how to adjust it if necessary. 

To test your current soil pH level, you can take a soil sample and have it sent in for a soil test at your local ag extension office.  Also, there are at-home kits that allow you to test your soil pH.  If you are trying to test the pH of a container plant, I recommend after watering heavily, testing the pH of the runoff water being collected in a saucer underneath the plant.

Adjusting the pH is not a laborious process.  First, you need to understand, like most things in nature, there is no instant reward.  By that I mean if your soil is alkaline, but you need it more acidic, there is no snap your fingers and lower the Ph organically quickly.  Adjusting the soil pH is a process that takes time. 

To raise the soil pH or alkalinize the soil, you apply garden lime to the soil.  If you have a wood-burning fire pit, you can mix the wood ashes into the soil to help raise the pH.  Mix with topsoil at the recommended rate and til the product into the soil.  To lower the soil pH or Alkalinize the soil you have a few more options.  Try mulching with pine needles; they are acidic, so as they break down, they will help acidify the soil.  Also you can add compost or composted manure to the area, which will also help with the soil pH. You can also add sulfur to your garden to address pH issues.  Unfortunately, the effectiveness of sulfur depends on main individual factors, heat, moisture, and soil microorganisms; therefore, it is hard to know what your results will be, and it could take months to achieve the desired pH results.

Whether raising or lowering the soil pH, realize it is not an overnight fix.  This process should be done months before planting.  That’s why planning your garden is so important.  This way, you can research the crops' desired soil pH level and attempt to achieve said level before planting.

Knowing crops desired pH level is essential to garden success.  Below is a list of conventional crops and their desired pH levels.  After examing the lists, you realize that a majority of the plants prefer the soil at that 7 or neutral range.  If you practice organic method, pay attention to applying high-quality fertilizers and amendments, and focus on the soil microbes you can achieve the desired pH. Also notice how the crops will accept a wide pH range.  So you do not have to have the perfect pH, just be within the desired range. 

·       Apple (5.0-6.5)

·       Artichoke (6.5-7.5)

·       Arugula (6.5-7.5)

·       Asparagus (6.0-8.0)

·       Basil (5.5-6.5)

·       Bean, lima (6.0-7.0)

·       Bean, pole (6.0-7.5)

·       Beet (6.0-7.5)

·       Blackberry (5.0-6.0)

·       Blueberry (4.5-5.0)

·       Broccoli (6.0-7.0)

·       Brussels sprouts (6.0-7.5)

·       Cabbage (6.0-7.5)

·       Cantaloupe (6.0-7.5)

·       Carrot (5.5-7.0)

·       Cauliflower (5.5-7.5)

·       Celery (6.0-7.0)

·       Chinese cabbage (6.0-7.5)

·       Chive (6.0-7.0)

·       Cilantro (6.0-6.7)

·       Collard (6.5-7.5)

·       Corn (5.5-7.5)

·       Cranberry (4.0-5.5)

·       Cucumber (5.5-7.0)

·       Dill (5.5-6.7)

·       Eggplant (5.5-6.5)

·       Garlic (5.5-7.5)

·       Horseradish (6.0-7.0)

·       Kale (6.0-7.5)

·       Kohlrabi (6.0-7.5)

·       Leek (6.0-8.0)

·       Lettuce (6.0-7.0)

·       Marjoram (6.0-8.0)

·       Melon (5.5-6.5)

·       Mizuna (6.5-7.0)

·       Mustard (6.0-7.5)

·       Okra (6.0-7.5)

·       Onion (6.0-7.0)

·       Oregano (6.0-7.0)

·       Parsley (5.0-7.0)

·       Parsnip (5.5-7.5)

·       Pea (6.0-7.5)

·       Pepper (5.5-7.0)

·       Potato (4.5-6.0)

·       Pumpkin (6.0-6.5)

·       Radicchio (6.0-6.7)

·       Radish (6.0-7.0)

·       Raspberry (5.5-6.5)

·       Rhubarb (5.5-7.0)

·       Rutabaga (5.5-7.0)

·       Sage (6.0-6.7)

·       Spinach (6.0-7.5)

·       Squash (6.0-7.0)

·       Sunflower (6.0-7.5)

·       Sweet potato (5.5-6.0)

·       Swiss chard (6.0-7.5)

·       Tarragon (6.0-7.5)

·       Tomatillo (6.7-7.3)

·       Tomato (5.5-7.5)

·       Turnip (5.5-7.0)

·       Watermelon (6.0-7.0)

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