Soil pH Levels

Soil pH Levels

The significance of pH levels of soil in gardening is discussed in the following article. Also discussed are the methods of testing the pH, as well as the techniques to lower it.
Gardenerdy Staff
The measurement of soil pH is considered to be important in determining its health, and also for deciding the type of plants that would be best to grow in it. Let us understand the different concepts related to soil pH in the following paragraphs.
Checking Soil pH Levels
The measure of acidity or alkalinity of soil on a scale of 14 is referred to as soil pH. In order to test this parameter, one would require a trowel/spade to dig the soil, distilled water, and a tester. The hole that one digs needs to be 2-4 inches deep. Twigs or other foreign bodies if any, should be cleared off, and the distilled water should then be poured to create a muddy pool. The tester should be calibrated properly, cleaned, and then inserted into the soil. It should be held in the mud for about 1 minute in order to measure the pH. If the reading indicates 7, the soil is neutral. The reading above 7 indicates that it is an alkaline soil, while a reading below 7 indicates that the soil is acidic in nature. This is one of the most common and accepted ways of testing the pH value of soil.
Reasons for Testing
The pH value of soil can also affect the availability of nutrients to plants. One of the reasons behind giving importance to soil pH is that occurrence of some diseases is dependent on this value. Also, different vegetables and plants require different levels of soil pH to grow. Gardening with improper levels of soil pH can result in a poor yield of crops. Provided below are the pH levels required for grass and other vegetables, along with the explanation of some of the common terms and equipment used in soil testing.
Soil pH for Grass
A slightly acidic soil is required for the proper growth of grass. Soil pH between 6.5 and 7.0 is considered to be suitable for this floral variety. Ground limestone should be added to the soil if the pH is less than 6.5, while sulfur needs to be mixed in an alkaline soil with pH greater than 7.5.
Soil pH for Vegetables
Vegetables need a slightly acidic soil for healthy growth. For most vegetables, the pH requirement is between 6 and 7.5. The soil should be tested for this value, in order to grow healthy varieties of crop plants. The vegetables, along with a proper pH level, also need well-drained and friable soil.
Level Tester
The pH tester provides the farmers/gardeners with the readings about the acidity and alkalinity of soil. It is possible to determine the type of plant to grow, after knowing the pH level of soil.
Level Chart
The pH requirements of some of the commonly grown vegetables are provided in the following pH level chart.
Vegetables Required pH
Cabbage 6.0 - 7.5
Cauliflower 5.5 - 7.5
Cucumber 5.5 - 7.5
Lettuce 6.1 - 7.0
Onion 6.0 - 7.0
Potato 4.5 - 6.0
Pumpkin 5.5 - 7.5
Spinach 6.0 - 7.5
Tomato 5.5 - 7.5
Beans 6.1 - 7.5
Lowering Soil pH
It is necessary to lower soil pH in order to grow plants that prefer acidic soils. One should test the soil, and the check the pH. Fertilizers like sulfur coated urea and ammonium sulfate are used in lowering the soil pH. This process is especially recommended for soils that have a high content of free lime.
While most gardeners and farmers are likely to know all about soil, along with the pH levels required for different plants, it is less likely that the average individual will know all the details. For those planning on growing vegetables in their gardens, or simply for those who want a picture perfect lawn, the above article about soil pH values will definitely be helpful.