If you have planted new plants on your property every spring only to see them wilt a few months later, the problem may lie in the chemistry of your soil, not with your abilities as a gardener. The pH level of your soil is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of soils. Acidic soils have fewer essential plant nutrients such as potassium, calcium and magnesium available for plants to utilize and, as a result, many plants will not survive in acidic soils. You can amend acidic soils with additives to make them less acidic and more amenable for growing plants in your home garden.
Things You'll Need
- Soil sample
- Agricultural lime
Collect a soil sample from your property and send it to a reputable laboratory for analysis to determine the pH of your soil. Local cooperative extension services will usually complete a soil analysis and provide detailed instructions for collecting soil samples from your property to fit with their testing procedures, according to the University of Missouri.
Determine the acidity of your soil by reading the soil test report. Soil pH is measured on a logarithmic scale from 0 to 14, with 7 being a neutral. Soils with a pH of less than 7 are acidic. The degree of acidity will determine the amount of additives necessary to amend the soil so that you can grow healthy plants on your property.
Apply agricultural limestone evenly on your property, in the volume recommended by the Cooperative Extension analysis, to neutralize acidic soils and provide additional calcium and magnesium for plants. The volume of lime needed to make your soil neutral depends on the acidity of the soil, the type of soil as well as the type of lime material you use.
Till the lime into the soil just before planting on your property in order to increase the effectiveness of the treatment. If you are applying lime to an area where plants are already established, the University of Florida recommends watering thoroughly after application to aid the lime in penetrating the soil.
Tips & Warnings
- Add only the prescribed volume of lime to your property; too much lime can cause serious damage to plants.
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