Growing a garden full of healthy plants or vegetables is a rewarding experience. You can enhance that experience by learning more about ways to reduce soil acidity. Maintaining the proper pH levels in your garden will help to optimize the health of your plants.
Understanding the Basics of pH in Soil
The relative alkalinity and acidity in garden soil is expressed with the pH scale. This scale ranges from 1–14. The number 7.0 on the pH scale is considered to be the neutral marker. To reduce the acidity, you need to raise soil pH levels.
You don't need to be a scientist in order to test and adjust the pH levels in soil. Simple kits are available for testing, and making the right adjustments is often a matter of adding amendments to the soil.
Why does pH matter? Can't you grow a simple garden without worrying about lower acidity in soil? Many home garden projects are completed without giving pH levels a single thought. You may be impressed, however, when you take the time to neutralize acidic soil, as your plants will thrive in a way that can surprise you.
When Garden Soil Becomes Too Acidic
Acidity and alkalinity in soil have a direct impact on how your plants absorb important nutrients from garden soil. The failure to fix acidic soil means that your chosen plants could be receiving too little of some nutrients and too much of others.
The great majority of garden plants thrive at pH levels of 6–7.5. You are really shooting for that neutral area, although there are some exceptions. Certain fruits like blueberries need more acidity, and flowers like azaleas can also benefit from high acidity levels.
As the acidity level in your garden soil starts to rise, you will begin to notice that plants have more difficulty thriving. Phosphorus, one of the most important elements found in garden soil, becomes much harder for plants to absorb when acidity is high. It is phosphorus that allows your plants to bloom and develop fruit.
Methods for Neutralizing Acidity in Soil
There are some tried-and-true methods to lower acidity in soil and increase soil pH levels. As always, your results will tend to be better if you are able to make the necessary amendments over time instead of in a rush. Planning will allow you to avoid a situation where you need to raise pH in soil fast.
Depending on the size of your garden project, you may want to begin by testing the soil yourself or having a professional test done. As we mentioned earlier, there are kits available at online retailers for a reasonable price. Conducting the test is a simple matter that you can perform in just minutes.
The results will determine which soil amendment you need to consider. Some amendments can offer greater reduction of acidity. Others are meant to have a lighter impact. Some methods to reduce soil acidity will last for a long time; others will need to be repeated more frequently.
Finally, there are some select methods that will raise pH in soil fast if you need quick results. Just remember that a better plan is to become familiar with the unique makeup of your own garden and consistently manage acidity.
How to Raise the pH Level in Your Garden's Soil
There is one primary method of raising the pH level in soil and thereby reducing the soil's acidity: adding lime to the garden soil. Garden lime is also known as calcium carbonate, and it can be found at most physical or online garden supply stores.
The general rule is to apply about 7 or 8 pounds of lime to each 100 square feet of your garden. This amount of lime will usually raise the pH level by one number. You will need to retest once the lime has been added and allowed time to work.
Another popular amendment is wood ash. If you have an outdoor fire pit, this may be a more cost-effective amendment for you. Just regularly take the ashes from the fire pit and spread them on your garden soil. As with lime, you'll need to test frequently to make sure the proper adjustments have been made.
With a little time and practice, you will be able to monitor the acidity level in your garden soil with ease. You will be amazed at the difference once you’ve achieved proper pH levels and created a healthier environment for your plants.
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