While the pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, most plants only grow and thrive happily in between 6.0 and 7.5. If your soil is too acidic, it’s time to find ways to neutralize it. Below is how to organically raise pH in the soil.
Test The Soil
To decide how many points the soil’s pH needs to be raised, it is essential to test the soil by either using a soil test kit that can be purchased at any garden center or through a local extension office.
If you want to conduct a soil pH test on your own, prepare:
- pH testing kit
- Coffee filter
- Distilled water
- Liquid measuring cup
- Clean glassware
- Garden shovel
Step 1: Obtain a soil sample. Dig 5”-6” under the soil surface using a garden shovel
Step 2: Clear off debris, such as stones, pebbles, and sticks
Step 3: Pour distilled water in until it reaches the same level as the sample
Step 4: Swirl or stir the mixture well and let it sit for 30 minutes
Step 5: Drain the mixture using a coffee filter. Keep the liquid.
Step 6: Dip the pH test strip into this fluid to check the level
Step 7: Repeat three times more to get the average results
Get The Right Plan In Raising The Soil’s Ph
After determining how much you need to raise pH in soil, it’s time to pick the right plan. Here are some common ways to increase the soil’s pH:
- Rich in potassium – that can be considered as a fertilizer to provide K into the soil
- High solubility – to easily dilute with water as long as its pH level is under 7.0 to avoid clogging the emitter
When adding potassium carbonate into the water, it helps neutralize some carbonate ions and acidify them.
The biggest plus of using agricultural lime is that it’s very eco-friendly because this soil amendment is made from crushed limestone. And, it is very affordable.
Depending on the needs of your soil to determine how much lime to apply. Here are some hints for you:
- Clay soils: 5 lbs./100 sq. ft.
- Loamy soils: 3-1/2 lbs./100 sq. ft.
- Sandy soils: 2 lbs./100 sq. ft.
This is a traditional way to raise the soil’s pH because lime is slowly soluble, which means it can’t be applied by drop irritation or reach as deep a soil profile as potassium carbonate.
Besides, it takes time to affect chemical reactions.
If applied on the surface, it only affects just several inches deep around the topsoil layer.
The best way to use lime is to mix it with the media before planting. The chemical reaction will become more difficult if the garden already has some plants because you’ll have to apply lime separately to each plant or container.
Note: Try not to apply too much lime because it might burn your plant leaves.
This ingredient is the easiest to find in anyone’s kitchen or in any grocery store. It is budget-friendly and easy to carry out.
In comparison, baking soda is lighter than other substances so it takes fewer risks to burn your plants or cause any adverse effects. The only drawback of this method is baking soda doesn’t last long in the soil so you might need to apply it more frequently – every 2 or 3 months.
Wood ash helps increase the soil’s pH quickly. To help you get a better idea of how quick it is in neutralizing the soil’s acid, wood ash is nearly ½ as effective as lime. However, just like baking soda, it doesn’t last long, meaning that you have to apply it regularly
Before buying or DIY some wood ash to treat your soil, remember these notes:
- Prevent wood ash from contacting directly to your germinating seeds
- If you intend to apply wood ash around plants, make sure they love this manure
- Only apply dry ashes
- Do not use ash from chemically treated wood
As a rule of thumb, per square meter yard, apply 50g-70g of wood ash (equivalent to 2 ounces).
There are three ways to apply wood ash to your soils:
- Around plants: Mix it with any topsoil dressing and use it as a side dressing around your plants.
- Before planting: Apply in the winter
- On soil: Sprinkle wood ash on the soil surface on a still day in winter, then fork or rake it. For the best effects, mix it with your cattle manure
- In compost: Add one shovelful or some handfuls of wood ash to each 6” layer of compost
Note: Remember to wear gloves to protect your hands.
Test Your Soil
After applying soil amendment, water the area thoroughly and wait for several months before testing the soil’s pH once again to make sure it reaches the desired point.
This extra step lets you know if you picked the right treatment for the soil or you need to try another method.
Correcting the soil’s pH takes time and requires lots of patience. Once trying any treatment method, you should consider how long it needs to affect the soil and how often to apply it again. Pay attention to the cost as well.
Hopefully, this guide helped you find out the right way to organically raise pH in the soil. Thanks for reading!