Many plants, such as blueberries, require an acid soil for good growth and production of fruit. Acid soil occurs in areas of high rainfall or where the primary mulching material is acidic in nature. Oak leaves, for example, tend to be fairly acidic. Organic gardeners can mimic nature by using mineral additives or mulch to change the soil pH.
Things You'll Need
- soil test kit
- acid mulch
- digging tools
Determine the optimum soil acidity for particular plants in the planting bed. Read the material that came with your plants, or consult a gardening guide or growing manual. Ideally, soil preparation should occur several months before planting.
Dig or till the area to be planted in early fall. When the soil is soft and easy to mix, add powdered sulfur, a mineral, according to package directions. Sulfur is used to lower the pH, making soil more acidic. Retest yearly to be sure the correct pH is being maintained.
Mix in an acidic mulch, such as composted oak leaves or Douglas fir sawdust. This helps ensure continued acidity and good tilth--meaning the soil is easy to dig into, loose and well-aerated.
Maintain nitrogen levels. Decomposition depletes nitrogen in the soil, which can cause yellow leaves and other symptoms of poor growth. To maintain the levels, use soybean meal or green manure crops, such as alfalfa.
Tips & Warnings
- Test the soil in the autumn, when most biological activity is over.
- Organic soil amendment is best done several months before planting time.
- Photo Credit blueberries image by samantha grandy from Fotolia.com
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