How To Raise Or Lower Soil PH In Organic Gardening

By Ann Sanders | Soil Care

Starting and managing an organic garden takes a lot of effort, and this is regardless of the size of the space or type of plants you want to grow.

Whether you are a first-time gardener or an experienced one the chances are that you will end up giving up if things do not seem to be going how you want.

The soil is the issues in most instances because it affects almost all aspect of plant growth. Apart from having sufficient nutrients and proper aeration, the land needs to have the right PH for your plants to grow well.

And so taking PH up and down for soil is a topic that you have to be ready to deal with for successful organic gardening.

Most plants are sensitive to soil PH, and so if you can manage it well, you will not have any issues with their germination and growth. Whether you want to raise the PH of an acidic soil or lower an alkaline one a little knowledge is all that you need.

Managing Soil PH

#1 Soil Evaluation

Before you decide whether you need to raise or lower PH, the first step is always to evaluate the dirt. Although it is true, you will see signs from your plants on what your soil requires it is always important to be certain.

It can be unfortunate to lower the PH of soil that is already very acidic because it will become toxic to the seedlings and so you should always start with an evaluation.

Determine The Soil Type

The first thing that you should do during the assessment is to identify the type of soil in your garden if you do not already know this.

ph up and down for soil

And apart from identifying the general type of soil, it is also important to determine other things like the drainage, dryness and whether the soil is loose or clumpy. Experienced gardeners can tell all this just by touching and looking at the dirt.

Determine What You Want To Plant

What you want to have in your organic garden will determine the right soil PH. For example, if you want to plant some strawberries or blueberries you will need an acidic soil because these plants do well in this type of soil. But, most other fruits, vegetables, and flowers will also require slightly acidic soils.

Test Both Soil And Water PH

The testing part is the most important when it comes to evaluation. In this step, you will need to examine the soil and water PH since both will have an effect on your plants.

ph up and down for soil

You can have the soil from your garden tested by a professional by taking a sample. However, PH test strip and an electronic PH meter can also give you some reliable results if yo prefer to do it at home.

Water PH is also easy to determine because you can also use the strips and PH meter. Regular tap water tends to be more alkaline and so if it also raises the soil PH.

Rainwater, on the other hand, is more acidic and so if you live in a region that receives a lot of rain your soil will be more acidic.

#2 Raising PH

If you discover that your soil is too acidic after the test you need to raise the PH because it can be toxic to some plants. For this, you will need to add a base and whatever you choose to use depends on the level of acidity and how fast you want to raise the PH.

ph up and down for soil

Most of the compounds or base that you can use to raise the PH will contain lime or limestone in a powder form. These compounds are common, and so you can find them in any garden store near you. But, you will also need to make a decision on whether to use the lime in pellet, pulverized, granule or hydrated form.

If you are not sure what form of lime to use, you should use the amount of moisture in the soil or your soil type to determine this. Lime pellets and granules are the most convenient when it comes to application, but they take longer to work and are not very effective in raising the PH.

Pulverized lime, on the other hand, makes absorption easy because it is a fine powder, but it tends to clog the applicator a lot.

A hydrated version of lime is the best when you want to raise the PH fast, but you should only use it with soils that are very acidic because it can make the soil too alkaline for the plants if you are not careful.

Alternative Way Of Raising PH

If you prefer a completely natural and more affordable method of increasing PH, you should consider using wood ashes or baking soda. Ash is a simple but still an effective way of raising PH, but it takes a lot of time to work.

Also, it will add potassium, calcium and other micronutrients to the soil. But, it is important to make sure that it does not come into contact with roots because it can damage them.

#3 Lowering PH

Although you might still need to raise PH, in many instances, you will need to reduce it because most plants thrive in slightly acidic soils. If you are planning to plant an organic garden, the best way of lowering PH is by use of natural materials.

ph up and down for soil

Manure, compost, pine needles and other organic material will help reduce the PH over time.If the PH in the soil is too high, the organic material might not work well because they take a long time to break down. The best alternative is to use sulfur or aluminum sulfate.

However, sulfur also takes some time to work, and its effectiveness depends on factors like the bacteria in the soil, moisture, and the temperature.

Aluminum sulfate offers one of the fastest ways of acidifying soil because of the chemical reaction of aluminum. However, this chemical reaction means that it will not be the right choice for you if you want to do completely organic gardening.

Pro Tips For Managing Soil PH

  • Water the soil regularly when trying to raise PH because lime has little effect on the dry ground.
  • For the best results, you should till the lime into the ground a couple of months before planting.
  • When trying to acidify the soil, it is also important to work the sulfur, aluminum sulfate or organic material into the ground.
  • Test your garden soil at least once per year or per season to determine the progress before reapplying the base or acidic compound.
  • If you are not sure about acidifying the soil in the garden, the best idea is to plant in pots because this will not interfere with your soil.
  • Adding organic matter to your soil is always a good idea regardless of whether you are trying to raise or lower PH because it helps to prevent PH swings.

Conclusion

Bringing the pH up and down for soil will require some effort and enough knowledge, but it is vital to ensure the health of your plant. But, not all soils will need either, and so it is always necessary to do some testing.

Also, as a gardener, you should make sure that you never overdo things because it will take more effort to reverse the damages. And remember to monitor the soil PH for the long run because lowering or raising it is not a one-off thing.

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About the Author

With the endless passion for organic living, I - Ann Sanders has come up with the idea of creating A Green Hand. Being the founder and editor of A Green Hand, my goal is to provide everyone with a wide range of tips about healthy lifestyle with multiform categories including gardening, health & beauty, food recipe,...