Many plants have specific requirements regarding the acidity or alkalinity of the soil in which they are found, so it is common that, when consulting the care of some plants, we see things like “requires acid soils” or certain pH requirements . Because of this, it is necessary to know how to measure soil pH in a homemade way and be able to alter it in case of soil pH problems.
Does all this sound very complicated to you? Do not worry and join us in this EcologíaVerde article, you will see that measuring and changing the pH of the earth is within everyone’s reach.
Why is it important to measure the pH of the soil?
The pH marks, as we have just mentioned, the acidity or alkalinity level of your soil, so it is very important to know what you can and cannot grow in it. The soil tends to have a pH close to neutral, but the natural composition of certain soils can make it more acidic or alkaline, as well as certain cultivation techniques or the use of some fertilizers or substances.
Without proper pH, the beneficial microorganisms in the soil will not be able to sustain themselves, nor will the plants absorb the nutrients they need. In this case, the so-called acidophilic plants are known, such as hydrangeas, gardenias, azaleas and camellias, among others. These plants cannot develop properly in soils with a low pH, suffering from chlorosis in alkaline soils due to the inability to absorb nutrients.
How can you measure soil pH at home?
To measure the pH of the soil at home you need to follow these steps:
- Buy pH stripswhich you can easily find in any hardware store or large supermarket, or even buy it online on large platforms without any difficulty.
- you will also need distilled water, which must be distilled due to its neutral pH of 7. If it is tap water or mineral water, the test result will not be valid, since the water would alter it. Distilled water can also be purchased without problems in hardware stores, supermarkets and department stores.
- Ready this, it only remains to get the soil sample you want to measure the pH of, which cannot be taken at a random point, since the soil can suffer alterations in specific places. Divide the area of land whose pH you want to measure into about 10 plots, and take a sample from each of these areas, all of them the same size. It is advisable not to take the sample from the surface, but from a depth of between 10 and 45 cm.
- Then mix them with distilled water.as much weight in water as the weight of the sample, stir them well and let the samples rest for a couple of hours.
- After this, there is only dip the strip in the water in the container and it will take on the color corresponding to the pH of the soil, which you will have to compare with the guide that comes along with the strips.
Another more imprecise but faster method of measuring soil pH is to use vinegar. For measure soil pH with vinegar. Just add vinegar to your soil sample and take a good look at whether or not bubbles appear. If there are, it means that the soil is alkaline, that is, that its pH is greater than 7.
How to lower the pH of the soil
If you need to know how to lower the pH of the soil at home, the most common is add aluminum sulfate to soil. This achieves immediate effects on its acidity or alkalinity level, and if you don’t go overboard with the amounts, it has no major effect on the plants. Of course, it is very important that you do it in the right amounts, because if you exceed it you will trigger the acidity level of the soil, making it unsuitable for any type of crop.
If what you want is to know how to lower the pH of the soil in horticulture, for example because you have decided to start a garden, the most common thing if you want to do the best possible and without haste, is add sulfur or organic matter. This method requires planning because it takes several months to achieve the effect. Usually, it is normal to use between half a kilo and a kilo of sulfur per square meter and re-measure the pH between 3 and 6 months after its application. If it is not enough, the following year you can add sulfur again. Here you can learn more about Sulfur for plants: benefits and how to apply it.
How to raise the pH of the soil
If it is about how to correct the acidic pH of the soil, what you need to know is how to raise the pH of the soil at home. Follow these tips:
- In this case, the most common is to use ground limestonewhich must be mixed with the soil by spreading it.
- Raising soil pH can be difficult, but another recurring, sometimes unintentional method is irrigate with hard or lime-rich water, as is the faucet of many sites. This water ends up raising the pH of the soil, which is why acidophilic plants cannot be irrigated with running water. Watering like this is another way of raising the pH of the soil, in fact, one of the simplest and most comfortable.
- Acidic organic matter, such as blond landalso serves to acidify soils, or the common manurewhich fertilizes in addition to raising the pH.
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