Soil PH in Your Vegetable Garden

Have you ever wondered why some plants thrive in certain soils, while others struggle or fail to grow altogether? Well, in my earlier days I sure did. But thanks to my old Dad, I found that the answer often lies in the soil’s pH level. What I discovered was that soil pH plays a critical role in influencing the nutrients that are available to plants and their ability to absorb them. If you’re not too familiar with the pH scale, let me break it down for ya. It’s a tool we use to measure how acidic or alkaline a substance/soil is, and it goes from 0 to 14. When we talk about a pH of 7, that’s right smack in the middle, and we call it neutral. Anything below 7 is considered acidic, while anything above 7 is alkaline. Now, here’s where it gets important for us farmers/gardeners. Different crops need different pH levels to thrive, and we need to be mindful of that to give ’em the best shot at success. I found that some plants like it more acidic, while others prefer it to be more alkaline. The bottom line is; if we don’t pay attention to the pH requirements of our crops, they may not grow as strong and healthy as they could. So … it’s something we have to keep in mind when we’re tending our soil. For instance, asparagus plants prefer a slightly alkaline soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 8.0, while potatoes prefer a slightly acidic soil with a pH level between 4.8 and 6.5. Peppers, on the other hand, prefer a slightly acidic soil with a pH level between 5.5 and 7.0, while broccoli thrives in a slightly acidic to neutral soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0. The thing is, it’s important to make sure your plants have the right pH balance to keep them healthy and growing well. Then it comes to acidic soil, certain nutrients like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus become less available, which causes limited growth and nutritional deficiencies. Whereas in alkaline soil, minerals like iron, zinc, and manganese become less available, leading to yellowing leaves and other symptoms of nutrient deficiencies. So … how can you determine your soil’s pH level?  Well, the easiest way is to use a soil test kit, which can be purchased at most garden centres or online. They give you an easy way to measure your soil’s pH level, so you can change it as needed to meet the needs of your plants. It should also be noted that the pH of your soil can be raised by adding lime if it has a high amount of acidity. And on the other side of the coin, adding sulphur can assist lowering the pH level if your soil has a high alkaline content. Furthermore, adding organic matter, such as compost, can also help to stabilize the pH of the soil, creating a more suitable environment for a wider range of plants. Finally, my old Dad used to say: “happy soil, happy crops, happy farmer!” And that’s no lie, as it’s a well-known fact among us farmers/gardeners, that soil pH can make or break a harvest.

“So, remember folks, if you want your plants to thrive, you gotta’ test that pH and get it just right. And if you’re feeling a little lost, just remember this age-old gardening wisdom: when in doubt, just give your soil a good talking to. It might not change the pH, but your plants will definitely appreciate the extra attention!”

In Closing I Would Like To Wish You Well.

You can reach George Walters at: [email protected]

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