Have you ever dealt with vegetable plant problems that confounded you? When it comes to growing your own herbs and vegetables, soil pH is one element in gardening that you should be aware of in order to grow the most successful plants.
If your tomatoes develop blossom-end rot the soil could be lacking in calcium or if your peppers have too much leaf growth the soil could contain too much nitrogen. Each of these soil conditions can be fixed by testing the soil pH and amending if necessary. Soil pH (potential Hydrogen) is basically the measurement of acidity or alkalinity and runs on a logarithmic scale from 0 to 14, with 0 being the most acidic and 14 being the most alkaline. If the soil pH is too high or too low this can be toxic to plants. Garden soils generally have a pH between 5.5 and 8.0, and vegetable plants generally grow best in soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0.
To test your soil pH, you can purchase a soil pH meter or soil test kit through Amazon or at your local garden center. You can also check with your local Cooperative Extension office to see if they can test your soil for you.
What are culprits for soil becoming too acidic or alkaline? Climate and mineral content are two reasons why soil pH can be affected. When it rains, calcium and magnesium can be leached from the soil. In areas where rainfall is high, like in the Pacific Northwest, you’ll find soil that is more acidic, while in areas that are dry you’ll find soil that is more alkaline. As far as mineral content goes, natural rock in soil will affect soil pH. Acidic rock contains more silica which will create acidic soil, while limestone will create alkaline soil.
If your soil pH is below 6 that means the soil is too acidic, and if your soil pH is higher than 7.5 that means the soil is too alkaline. You can easily fix these soil pH problems by adding ground limestone to acidic soil and soil sulfur to alkaline soil. Both limestone and sulfur can be found at local garden centers.