Basic Information for Garden Planning: Soil pH

January 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

According to the gardening books I’ve read, it’s important to know your soil’s pH.  If you think basic to that chemistry course you took in high school or college, you’ll remember that the pH scale runs from 0 to 14, with 0 being basic/alkaline and 14 being acidic.  Most plants like neutral soil, so having this information provides insight if you’re having trouble growing a certain type of plant.  Once you know your pH you can take steps to adjust for your situation.

Now, you can find out your by buying a home test kit or a soil pH meter, they are available at most home garden store.  Since I have no desire to fiddle with my soil pH, I know that after an initial test whatever I buy will sit on a shelf in my garage gathering dust.

So instead, I did a little experiment recommended in Garden Anywhere. Fair warning, your kitchen will smell after this one:

  • Boil 2 cups chopped cabbage and allow to cool.
  • Put 1 tablespoon of soil into a cup half filled with water and stir.
  • Add a few millimeters of the cabbage liquid.
  • Watch what color the mixture turns:
    • Purple-red = acidic
    • Blue = neutral
    • Yellow-green = alkaline

In my case, this experiment confirmed what I suspected-  that my soil tends toward being acidic.

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