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How To Test Garden Soil for pH and Correct It

Gardening seems simple at first, but many factors can interfere with growing, sprouting, and developing your seeds. It’s important to know about pH, which indicates the acidity or alkalinity of your soil. If you don’t know what that means, in the simplest of terms, you need to know how to test your soil for gardening. 

No matter what you are growing, it’s important to understand what pH is and why it matters. Overall, pH is a measure of hydrogen ion concentration, which is critical for growing plants. In this article, we’ll examine the various aspects of pH to ensure that you’re an expert grower.

Principles of pH

Your garden needs to fall into an acceptable range of pH, acidity, or alkalinity, for plants to grow. No amount of fertilizer can fix a problem with pH, so you need to know about your plants and their range of pH for them to flourish. While pH may sound scientifically intimidating, once you get a grasp of it, you will be able to conquer your garden. 

Do I Need a Test? 

Now that you have a basic understanding of what pH is, it’s time to test your soil. Some plants prefer more acidic soil, and some plants prefer more alkaline soil. You must figure out which type of soil your plant prefers. For example, blueberries love acidic soil, and lilacs embrace more alkaline soil.

If your plants are already growing, you probably don’t have to worry about testing them.

However, if your plants aren’t growing and you are struggling to understand why then it might be time for a pH test.

How to Test

There a several ways to test the pH of your soil. There are “do it yourself” testing kits, or you can even send a sample to a lab. Or believe it or not, you can do it on your own at home.  


2 small containers

White Vinegar

Baking Soda


Collect a soil sample from your garden. It doesn’t really matter which type of container you use, but you want to make sure you have a true sample, especially if you have separate gardens. You should have a sample from each area of your garden, and it should be in a clean and sterile container.

Test for Alkalinity

To test alkalinity, add ½ cup of water to the soil sample and mix it thoroughly. Then, add ½ cup of vinegar. If you observe a chemical reaction like bubbling or fizzing, you likely have a pH issue that will need to be corrected. The more obvious or visible the chemical reaction is, the more severe your pH issue will be as well. 

Test for Acidity

Take another mixed soil sample, and add another ½ cup of water, as well as ½ cup of baking soda. A small amount of fizzing or bubbling is normal, but if you see a pronounced or extremely active chemical reaction, your soil is likely too acidic. 

Fixing the Issue

You need patience when fixing your soil. If it is too alkaline or too acidic, it will take time to fix if you do not want to replace it. If you don’t want to change your soil, you can simply look up plants that fit the pH and try to plant them. 

However, if you want to fix the issue, you’ll need to make it more acidic or more alkaline, and here’s how to do that.

Make soil more acidic: To make the soil more acidic, add some sulfur, pine needles, or vinegar. There are many natural ways to make your soil more acidic.

Make soil more alkaline: You simply can add wood ash or ground eggshells.

If you choose either of these methods, you will need to plan and give your garden time. It takes time for your soil to absorb ingredients, and it isn’t necessarily an immediate fix.

Final Fixes

Unfortunately, it may get to the point where you tried to improve your soil and it just won’t work. This is the time to buy ingredients that improve your soil, but luckily, they are not that expensive. Feel free to use helpful insects like ants or ladybugs to give your garden that extra touch and ward off harmful plant predators like aphids.

The point is that if your plants aren’t growing, something simply isn’t right with your soil and you need to test it, improve it, or maybe replace it altogether. Most home improvement stores provide gardening soil with the perfect pH balance for your plants, and it’s an inexpensive and easy fix. 

In the end, for the right plants, you need the right environment. Make this happen, and you’ll have a product garden that suits your needs.

Frederick Grimes graduated from the University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Communications and is a Digital Marketing Specialist/Developer for Dr Strains CBD. He specializes in data analysis, social media, search engine optimization, and email marketing.

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