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understanding soil pH

So, why would you want to understand the pH of your soil?  Well, the pH level of your soil determines how well your plants will absorb nutrients into its roots.  If your soil has too much acid, or on the other end, too much alkaline your plants won't have enough nourishment to battle against pests and diseases.

The letters "pH" stand for potential for hydrogen.  The pH scale ranges from 1.0 to 14.0, 7.0 being neutral.  A measurement above 7.0 means your soil is alkalic.  If it's below 7.0 then it's acidic.

You can test your soil with an inexpensive kit from your local garden supply store.  However, provided with a soil sample your local county Extension Service can give you a much more detailed analysis.  It will take a lot longer and may cost a bit more (shipping?) but you'll have a much broader and detailed report which could help you avoid major problems down the road.

pH Strips

In the "good ole days" a farmer would smell and taste the soil to measure its pH.  If it was sweet it was alkalic and if it was sour it was acidic. 

We're fortunate that today's testing strips don't involve placing anything in your mouth.

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