A healthy plant is the result of healthy soil, and that involves understanding and adjusting the soil’s alkalinity. If you think you’ve been watering, feeding, and doing everything you can to care for your plant, but it’s not as robust as it could be, the problem may lie in your soil alkalinity or pH level. This article will give you a quick, but thorough insight into pH levels, how to measure them, and how to make soil more alkaline or less, depending on what your plant needs.
What Makes Soil Alkaline?
The pH levels indicate the measure of a soil’s alkalinity. A pH scale goes from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. A low pH is 0 to 6 and would mean there is more acid in the soil. A high pH is 8 to 14 and would mean the soil has more alkaline. Alkaline soils are common in arid or desert areas as well as dense forests. There several ways to make soil alkaline or to make it acidic.
How Does Alkalinity Affect Plants?
All plants can thrive better in soil with pH levels that suit them, but this is particularly important with regards to garden plants because you will have to measure and adjust for each type of plant. If you can give your plants the desired soil pH, you will end up with a bountiful garden. Plants can better absorb nutrients if the pH level is correct. So, even if you are feeding your plant regularly if the pH level is not favorable, your plant may not be able to adjust to the feeding. The ideal pH level for most plants is 6.5+ or 0.2, but this does not mean plants cannot grow well beyond these levels.
How To Test For Soil Alkalinity
Every gardener should have a soil pH tester or meter. There are several kinds: electronic, chemical dye, and strip test meters. This is the first step in knowing how to make soil more alkaline.
A chemical dye tester will give you a kit that includes a soil testing solution, barium sulfate testing powder, and an empty testing container. You will have to mix the soil with the testing solution and powder, then compare it to a chart to determine the pH level of your soul.
A strip test is similar to litmus paper, which you dip in a solution of water and soil. You wait three to 30 seconds for the color to change and compare it to a chart to learn how acidic or alkaline the soil is.
Electronic soil pH testers are easy enough to find online and don’t require as much effort as dye and strip tests. You only have to insert the metal probe into the soil, and you will get a quick and accurate reading.
Natural Ways To Adjust Soil Alkalinity
Before you learn how to make soil more alkaline, you must learn some of the most common garden plants that thrive in alkaline soil, so you know how you adjust soil pH levels. Here are some examples of plants that prefer alkaline soil: Lilac, Juniper, Oleander, Hydrangea, Boston Ivy, Silver Maple, Buckeye, Ironwood, Geranium, Yarrow, Creeping Phlox, Garden Phlox, Salvia, Dianthus, Sweet Pea, Lavender, Okra, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celery, Beets, Sweet Potato, Asparagus, Thyme, Parsley, Oregano, and Cucumber.
How to make soil more alkaline naturally can be done the easiest way through composting. As a responsible gardener, you are probably already adding compost to your plants, but to make the soil more alkaline, you want to be sure it is 20-30% well-decomposed like cow or horse dung. However, this is a gradual process and can take a month or two before you see a significant change in pH levels.
You can try mixing vinegar or lemon juice with water and adding it to the soil once every month. Mix 1 teaspoon of vinegar or 1 to 2 teaspoons of lemon juice with 1 liter of water. Be sure to measure the pH before and after you add your solution. Other items you can easily find in your kitchen are coffee grounds or tea waste, which you can mix into the soil.
When going to your hardware or gardening store, look for shredded pine or evergreen tree barks as well as sphagnum peat moss. You can place these on top of your soil. Wood ash is also an easy and organic way to lower the acidity of your soil.
If you are able to find lime or alum, you can grind them to a powder and add them to your soil. However, take caution and handle lime properly. Wear gloves while grinding and mixing in the lime.
Whatever method you prefer, do it at a gradual pace. Remember, it’s easier to add than to take away. And always have your soil pH meter or tester ready so you know if you’ve reached the pH level you want to achieve. Get more tips on soil care.
If you have ever asked yourself, “how to make my soil more alkaline?” I hope my suggestions in this article have given you the answers you need. For beginners, you now understand the importance of soil acidity and soil alkalinity. It’s not as tricky as you think it is, as long as you have the right tools and resources. You do not need fancy and expensive soil to make your garden more abundant. It’s all about being smart and making the most with what you have. You should now be able to pass on your knowledge of how to make soil more alkaline.