Taking care of the soil quality in your garden is vital to helping your plants thrive. Many gardeners are surprised at just how important soil PH is to a thriving garden.
If your soil is too alkaline you will find that your plants will struggle to absorb the nutrients that they need leading to issues and even causing plants to die off.
Why The Acidity of Your Soil is So Important
If your soil does not have enough acid in it (even for plants that do not love acid) your plants can be stunted and even die off. This is because they need some acidity to absorb enough nutrition from the soil.
Some plants like tomatoes and blueberries require large amounts of acid to grow and produce. Other acid-loving plants include:
- calla lilies
- pine trees
The trick here is to be careful and make sure that your plants are not getting too much acid and end up dying off from a lack of the necessary nutrients.
The good news is that most plants do not require a lot of acids to thrive and it is fairly easy to add acid to your soil quickly.
How to Tell if Your Soil Needs More Acid
The best way to know if your plants do not have enough acid to thrive is to start by testing your soil PH. This can be done with PH test strips of a digital PH tester.
A digital tester is the best overall option for your soil PH because it allows you to quickly test your soil at any time.
Many people are surprised to find out that not enough acid in the soil can cause some of the same problems as soil that has too much acid and is in need of added calcium.
This can include yellowing of leaves and blossom end rot caused by a lack of nutrition because without enough acidity nutrients like calcium can not be utilized by the plants.
Some plants make it easier to tell how your soil is doing. For example, hydrangea flowers will change colors with the addition of acid to your soil.
Keeping your soil from becoming depleted
One of the best things you can do for your garden’s acidity levels is to prevent your soil from becoming depleted.
Take the time to rotate your garden beds each growing season to prevent placing heavy feeders in the same areas.
This is very important for nightshades, potatoes, and other plants that tend to consume more nutrients. By rotating your garden beds you are giving your soil time to recover.
How to Make Your Soil More Acidic
Improving the acidity of your soil is easier than you think. There are several easy things you can do to raise the acidity of your soil both quickly, and over time, to help keep your soil balanced.
The quickest and most effective option for raising the acidity in your soil is to add sulfur. You can get sulfur for your garden from the gardening section at most stores. Sprinkle this in your garden then water to help the sulfur reach deeper into your soil.
Be careful to follow the directions on your sulfur package because too much sulfur can burn your plants rather than help them to grow and thrive. Many new gardeners tend to overdo things.
Adding in a good quality high nitrogen fertilizer is a great way to balance out your soil, increasing the nitrogen and improving the number of other nutrients your plants have.
Rabbit poop makes a great addition to your garden and is one of the only animal fertilizers that can provide your garden with what it needs, without having to age it to prevent burning your plants.
If you have a rabbit or know someone that does, you can easily get free fertilizer for your garden that will help your plants thrive.
One of the best things you can do for your garden to help your plants thrive is to take the time to add fresh compost into your garden at the start of every season. This can raise the acidity of your soil while adding in other necessary nutrients to help your garden thrive.
A well-balanced compost will have enough nitrogen to balance out your soil. You can also choose to mix organic matter directly into your soil, with your compost, to add more nitrogen to the soil as the organic matter breaks down.
This also helps to improve drainage in clay soil and water retention in sandy soils.
Growing cover crops
You can grow cover crops in your garden between growing seasons to help improve the acidity of your garden when you till the cover crops in.
This is a great way to help balance your garden’s soil and you can even choose to grow edible cover crops that will help to provide your family with food.
One of the best defenses to helping to prevent issues with low acidity for acid-loving plants like tomatoes is to grow them with companion plants, like green beans, that will improve the acidity of your soil and help your plants thrive.
The bacteria that grow at the roots of these plants help to improve the nitrogen balance of your soil.
Mulch with pine needles
For plants like blueberries, which need more acidity to thrive, a great option to raise the acidity is to mulch them with pine needles. This is a safe and natural mulch option that will help to maintain the nitrogen levels of your plants over time (with little to no extra work).
A great option for helping to keep your garden acidity levels up is to add used coffee grounds into your garden.
These can be sprinkled in throughout the gardening season or added into the garden with compost. This is a wonderful way to reduce waste in your kitchen. Many coffee shops actually offer free used coffee grounds to gardeners to help reduce waste.
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