A soil that’s high in acidity will cause a lot of problems when you’re trying to grow plants. Acidic soil will be deficient in nitrogen, and nutrients and discourages microbes and beneficial bacteria from thriving. Very often, rainfall is one of the causes of acidic soil. The rain washes away the elements in the soil and causes the soil to acidify because of the resulting increase in hydrogen ions. While all these facts may seem a little scientific, all that most people really need to know is that plants cannot do well in acidic soil and it’s best to test your soil before you plant any crops. Usually, you can purchase a soil testing kit and test the pH value of the soil with it. The number should fall somewhere in the middle of the scale, which indicates that the soil is neutral. If the number is too low, the soil is acidic. If it’s too high, the soil is overly alkaline. Neither extreme is good. If your budget is tight and you don’t want to purchase a soil testing kit, there is an easy low-cost way to test it without buying a kit. You’ll need a cup, some distilled water, some white vinegar, a spoon to stir the mixture, baking soda and a trowel to dig some soil up.
Testing The Soil
Dig up some soil and fill up ¼ of the cup with it. Add some distilled water into the cup and stir until you have a brownish muddy liquid. Then add ¼ cup of white vinegar into the mixture and watch the reaction. If you see bubbles forming and floating to the top, that means the soil is alkaline. The second test to do will follow a similar pattern. Add a ¼ cup of soil into a new cup and mix it with distilled water. Then add some baking soda into the muddy mixture. If it starts bubbling, the soil is acidic. These two methods will give you a rough idea of the condition of the soil. If you want to be really accurate, it’s best to use a soil testing kit. They’re relatively inexpensive and you can purchase one on Amazon. There is a wide range of brands with varying prices. Make sure you check the reviews well before purchasing.
Changing The Soil pH
If the soil is acidic, you can change the pH by adding compost to the soil. This will not only provide the soil with nutrients but will also make the soil more alkaline and balance it out. If the soil is too alkaline, adding manure to your soil will help increase the acidity. You can also add elemental sulfur, acidifying nitrogen or iron sulfate to correct the problem. These natural methods will take time to work and it can be anywhere from 3 weeks to a month for your soil to stabilize. So, it’s best to start early and get your soil in optimal condition before you start planting anything. Once your soil is fertile and has a neutral pH, your plants will thrive and you’ll not face many problems in future. Avoid rushing the process. Do what you have to do, and then you can do what you want to do.
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