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Soil pH: Why is it so important to gardeners?

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Soil pH is generally referred to as potential hydrogen or the hydrogen ion concentration of the soil. It basically is a logarithmic scale determining the acidity of the soil that ranges from 1 to 14 with 7 being the neutral point. A soil found to be at a pH lower than 7 is acidic and higher than 7 is alkaline. Most garden soils pH range in between 5.5 to 8.0, and 6 or 7 is ideal for vegetable plants.

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Generally speaking, pH plays a very important role determining whether your plants are healthy or not. Some plants like lilacs and clematis prefer sweeter soil while some others like blueberries like more of an acidic soil. If your plants seem to be growing healthy it means that the soil is maintaining a balanced pH level, but in case your plants are spindly or troubled, try changing the pH of the soil.

Note, pH of the soil determines its nutritional content for an example, an alkaline soil is more likely to have a limited proportion of minerals like phosphorous, iron, and zinc while an acidic soil would be containing less of calcium and magnesium. So considering your plants need maintain the acidity of the soil or its pH level so that you can the right ratios of the minerals in it thereby helping them to thrive well and being healthier. Remember, if the pH of the soil is not maintained properly then the plants will not be able to access the soil nutrients, no matter how much you feed them.

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Considering the above, you may now be familiar of the importance of the soil pH levels. So it becomes very important to test the soil for its acidity on regular intervals. Several types of pH testers are available in the market or at the garden center, which you can use to determine your soils acidity or alkalinity. Moreover, if you find it difficult to locate one such tester, just visit your Cooperative Extension office and get your soil tested at a very nominal cost. Once you are aware of your soil pH level, you can accordingly increase or decrease its acidity or alkalinity. You follow simple steps such as adding a bit of lime to raise the pH or adding a form of sulfur to lower it down.

But remember, doing these would not instantly affect your soil’s pH. It will take few months for your soil to register the change. So you have to keep on getting it tested periodically until the required results are achieved. In case you find it difficult to cope up with the long waits, change your plants depending on the pH level of the soil.

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