It’s your soil pH upon which the quality and quantity of your yield depend. So, learn the easiest way to test soil pH at home and make your harvest flourish!
Remember when we were taught in our biology class that it’s the optimum pH that controls all of our metabolism. If the pH fluctuates, the entire system of the human body will collapse. The same is true for plants as well. To grow at the ideal rate, plants need to be planted in the soil having perfect pH. But what is the perfect pH for plants? Is there a thing like one-size-fits-all in this case?
Sadly, NO! Just as every plant comes with its requirements regarding nutrients, temperature, moisture, etc. the requirements for pH also varies from plant to plant. Generally, the veggies and fruits tend to grow in slightly acidic lands while some other desires alkaline soil.
Overall, if your garden soil is maintained at 6-6.5, your plants will bloom happily. Another question that arises here is how to maintain the perfect soil pH? Simple! By testing the soil frequently and amending it accordingly. To test the soil, you can choose one of the three options; lab testing, pH testing kits, and DIY methods.
Lab tests will, undoubtedly, enable you to know about your soil condition and requirements in detail but the procedure may take several days or even a week. Also, you have to pay a hefty amount to get the pH test done by the professionals. Thus, this method of testing soil pH is surely nothing that every one of us can afford or desires.
Thus, to solve your problem, we have stated some of the other easiest ways to test soil pH at homes. Read the article further and know about your soil pH without wasting your time, money, and effort. Valid results are guaranteed!
The easiest way to test soil ph at home
One of the easiest and most fun ways to test your soil pH at home is by using red cabbage. All you have to do is to take three to four leaves of cabbage in a pot and fill the pot with two glasses of distilled water. Put the pot on the fire and let the material, present in it, boil. Once it starts smearing, put the pot aside from the heat and let the solution cool for thirty minutes. After it, remove the cabbage leaves from the pot.
Next, take a disposable cup and add two tablespoons of your garden soil into it. Pour some cabbage water into the cup to make a thick slurry. If the colour of the solution remains the same as before (bluish purple), then your soil is neutral. If it turns red or pink, then your garden soil is acidic. And if the solution would turn yellowish-green or tea-green, then your garden soil is alkaline.
This method, although, cannot enable you to predict the exact pH but you at least will become able to know its chemical nature and pH range to which it falls.
Baking soda-Vinegar test
Another fun and highly budget-friendly way to predict the pH is using two common kitchen ingredients; baking soda and vinegar. Since these items are found in almost all the kitchens, you don’t have to spend even a single dollar to know your soil pH.
To perform the test, you first need to get two soil samples – preferably from the same section of your yard, at a time. If you want to make different garden beds, then you better perform this test individually on different soil samples so you could better predict what is the pH of each garden bed. Doing so will help you plan your harvest in a better way.
Nevertheless, put each sample in a separate disposable cup. Make sure the cup is transparent, either made up of plastic or glass, so you can analyse the results more accurately. In cup 1, pour around half a cup of vinegar. On pouring it into the soil sample, if the bubbling and fizzing would begin, it means your garden soil is alkaline – having a pH higher than 7.
If no chemical reaction occurs and the soil-vinegar solution seems completely in peace, proceed towards the cup2, containing your garden soil sample. In this cup, pour the same amount of liquid baking soda (half cup) and wait for the reaction to begin. If the bubbling and fizzing would begin, it means your garden soil is acidic – having a pH lower than 7.
And if no reaction would take place in either case, know that your garden soil is completely neutral – having a pH around 7. Since only a few plants can grow at neutral pH, you need to amend the soil to either increase or decrease its pH – based on the type of vegetation you are planning to plant.
Both the methods we discussed till now are used to know whether your garden soil is leaning towards the acidic side or the basic side of the pH scale. However, if you want to know about the exact pH or near-exact pH and if you are willing to pay a few dollars as well, you better get soil strips.
These testing kits are easily available at the local nurseries and gardening shops and are highly reliable. All the procedure of using them and reading the result is written over the packaging so you don’t have to hire any professional to perform the test. The basic procedure of using these pH testing kits are as follows
Collect the sample
First of all, get the soil from six inches deep of your garden beds and put it into a glass. To dig the bed for obtaining samples you can use hand shovels. Once done, clean the soil thoroughly by removing sticks, stones, debris, and rubbles from it.
Make the soil-water mixture
Once down with sampling, pour in some distilled water into the sample holder and make a slurry of soil and water. Stir the mixture thoroughly and leave it at rest for half an hour.
Filter the slurry
After thirty minutes, get another glass container and fix the filter paper over its mouth. Pass your soil-water mixture through the filter paper and make sure only the liquid passes through it while the solid part of the mixture gets caught by the filter paper.
Perform the test
Now put your soil strip into the filtrate and wait for a few minutes. The time for how many minutes you have to wait for the results is usually mentioned on the packaging. Read all the instructions thoroughly.
Read the results
After that waiting period, the colour of the strip would begin to change. Match this colour with the pH scale given on the packaging to determine your garden soil pH. You have to repeat the process at least thrice to know about the average pH of a garden bed.
Remember, the pH of every garden bed may be different from other ones so it’s better to conduct a pH test for each garden bed, individually, by bringing different soil strips. It might cost a little more but the results you’ll get would be, undoubtedly, credible.
pH probes or metre
Luckily, the pH metres have become the new normal and today, every home user can get his pH metre to gauge the soil pH. These pH metres come with detailed pH readings and scaling. In this way, you can predict the most authentic and most accurate pH of your soil – in points.
To use these pH metres, you first have to dig a three to four inches hole. After digging the hole, remove all the debris, stones, sticks, and waste particles from the hole’s surface and fill it with distilled water. Why distilled water? Because the water that comes from the main water pipeline is usually alkaline so it might change the results.
On the other hand, distilled water is purely neutral – neither acidic nor alkaline, thus, the reading your pH metre shows will be highly accurate. You can easily purchase the distilled water from a local pharmacy or even a nearby supermarket. Once you fill the hole with distilled water, the next step is to insert your pH test probe into it. The test probe will be in the form of a long rod that you can dig easily inside the damp soil.
That’s another reason why I asked you to remove stones and other tough substances from the soil since on striking them, the probe might get damaged. After inserting the probe, the next step is to wait for a minute or two. The needle will, eventually, stop at a point on the scale, which would indicate your soil’s pH.
Just as with other methods, you also have to conduct this soil pH test at different corners of your garden. If the pH of one corner is too acidic or too alkaline, odds are you might find the desirable pH at some other corners of your garden. And if you are up to amending the soil, wait for two to four weeks for the amending agent to work. After three weeks, you can perform another pH test to figure out how efficient that amending agent has performed.