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Taking the Mystery out of Soil pH

By paulgrow
December 30, 2011

pH is a measurement of the power of hydrogen (hence “pH”). It is measured on a scale of 0-14, 0 being extremely acidic while 14 is extremely alkaline. Why is it important and how do we control it? I'll take the mystery out and explain exactly what pH is and what it does.

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Name: Joanne
Calgary, AB Canada (Zone 3a)
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Joannabanana
Dec 29, 2011 7:05 PM CST
Paul,

Thank you for the great information. In Calgary, we have to deal with high pH in soil, as well as tap water. Mid summer, our tap water is about 8.3 pH, so rain water is best, but not always feasible. Early spring is especially challenging since we usually have cold temps, the water is cold, swear the glacier is around the corner, and if we end up with a wet spring, the soil takes forever to warm up.

Great info and reference chart. Absorption rate of nutrients & minerals at different pH levels are often not considered when a deficiency is noticeable. Do you have additional research info that includes temperatures/pH in relation to the nutrient uptake? That would be AWESOME!!

I tip my hat to you.
Joanne
Name: josephine
Arlington, Texas (Zone 8a)
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frostweed
Dec 30, 2011 8:13 AM CST
Hello Paul, I wonder if you know of a simple PH soil test for the home garden, one that doesn't require sending samples somewhere? Thank you for the article.
Josephine.
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Name: Paul
Allen Park, MI (Zone 6a)
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paulgrow
Dec 30, 2011 9:00 AM CST
yes
most seed catalogs and garden centers offer do-it-your self kits for a basic pH test.

Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes. ~Author Unknown
Name: josephine
Arlington, Texas (Zone 8a)
Hi Everybody!! Let us talk native.
Native Plants and Wildflowers Organic Gardener Butterflies Garden Ideas: Master Level Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier Birds Cat Lover Xeriscape
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frostweed
Dec 30, 2011 9:22 AM CST
Thank you, i will look around and see.
I think one of my gardens might be too acid, it is sandy and the water just runs through the soil like nothing was there.
We have added a lot of organic matter and compost, but it still drains very fast and we have to water a lot more often.
We do have it all mulched so we don't know what else to do to get it to retain some water, here in Texas with the terrible heat and drought it is very important to conserve water as much as possible.
Josephine.
Wildflowers are the Smiles of Nature.
Gardening with Texas Native Plants and Wildflowers.
Name: Paul
Allen Park, MI (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member Canning and food preservation Vegetable Grower Seed Starter Roses Region: Michigan
Plant and/or Seed Trader Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Composter I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level
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paulgrow
Dec 30, 2011 9:30 AM CST
Just keep adding organic material, eventually the drainage will slow down.
Organic material retains water.
Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes. ~Author Unknown
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
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valleylynn
Dec 30, 2011 9:47 AM CST
Very helpful article Paul. You took the mystery out of understand soil pH. No to test my raised beds to see where they stand in soil balance. : )
I starred this article for easy reference. Thumbs up

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