When it comes to gardening, pH matters. The pH scale measures how acidic or alkaline a substance is. If you struggle to get plants to flourish in your garden, a too-high or too-low pH may be the reason why.
Why does soil pH matter?
Soil pH determines how easily essential nutrients like nitrogen and iron dissolve into the water in your soil. If the minerals your plants need don’t dissolve, then the roots can’t absorb them. Expert gardeners might tell you specific pH measurements that are ideal for different plants, but in general, you want a pH of 6.5-7.0. If your soil is too far off that target, all the fertilizer in the world won’t save your garden.
How do you test soil pH?
To test your soil pH, you’ll need distilled water, a coffee filter, and some pH test strips for soil from TestSure. Place a small amount of soil in a clean glass or plastic container, then pour in an equal amount of water. Stir the sample and let it sit for at least a half hour. Pour the whole solution into a second container through a coffee filter, separating out the liquid from the soil. Then, dip a pH test strip into the water.
Remember to use distilled water when checking your soil pH. If you use tap water, you’ll be testing the pH of the water, not your soil. You can find distilled water at most grocery stores, or buy it online.
How do you balance your soil pH?
What if you check your soil pH and find it’s too high or too low? The most tried and true way to rebalance soil pH is to add rich, pH-balanced compost. You can make your own by composting fruit and veggie trimmings from the kitchen or buy humus online. Other remedies depend on whether your soil is too acidic or too alkaline. For acidic oil (a pH below 6.5), add a small amount of agricultural lime. For soil that is too alkaline (a pH above 7.0), try decomposed tree leaves.