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How to measure soil for pH yourself: how to do the test for nutrients for your garden plants.

To determine the requirements of the plants, you should first measure the soil pH with a test as a professional or amateur gardener. Such a test is important because certain types of plants properly absorb nutrients from the garden soil only in the appropriate garden area. Not even adding plant food or fertilizer will help if your garden soil is outside the plant’s preferred value. So here are some gardening tips that might help you accomplish this task.

Why you should measure soil pH to test it

test garden soil before growing plants

Technically, a soil pH (potential hydrogen) test measures how many hydrogen ions are in the soil. A pH of less than 7 is acidic, 7 is neutral, and anything above 7 is alkaline. However, an acidic or alkaline garden soil is not necessarily bad. It all depends on what you want to grow in your garden. Most plants can adapt to a soil pH between 6 and 7.5. However, some plant species have different preferences. For example, blueberries prefer acidic soil, while asparagus tends to favor alkaline soil.

When you should perform a garden soil analysis

own test ph value soil measure and analyze with cell phone

When you measure pH in the soil, you should also choose the right time to do it. This way, you can amend the garden soil before winter, for example, or right in the spring before planting. Also, this is a good time to note any weeds that have been growing throughout the summer. This could also give you clues about the pH of your soil. For example, dandelions, wild strawberries and plantains proliferate in acidic soils, while common chickweed, bishop’s weed and chicory prefer alkaline soils.

prepare garden in spring and test garden soil as a hobby gardener

In addition, conducting such a test in the fall gives you enough time to grow fixing plants for mild winter climates or to adjust planting for the next year to match your readings. For alkaline soil, you can lower the pH by adding organic materials such as horse manure or peat. You can also neutralize an acidic soil by adding lime. The amount you add will depend on how much you need to change your pH.

How to measure the pH in the soil with home remedies

measure ph value in soil with garden tool like garden shovel


An acidic solution generally reacts when added to something basic. Therefore, you can use vinegar (acidic) and baking soda (basic) to quickly measure the pH of your soil. This test reveals the general soil composition and is recommended for those who have relatively healthy garden soils that could benefit from a little more targeted gardening. To do this, first dig 10 to 15 inches below the surface of your garden with a hand shovel to obtain a soil sample. While you’re at it, remove rocks, sticks and other debris from the soil, taking care to break up any large clumps. Next, place about 1 cup of soil in a clean glass container and add enough water to turn it into mud. Next, add 1/2 cup of vinegar and stir the mixture. If the soil bubbles, foams or throws bubbles, it is alkaline. However, if there are no bubbles, you can simply repeat the process.

Measuring soil pH with test strips

plants and soil ph value measure with test strips

A test with vinegar and baking soda can tell you which end of the pH scale your soil is on. However, for a more accurate measurement, a soil pH test kit is the way to go. You can buy test kits at most garden centers. To perform such a test, you should again dig 10 to 15 inches below the surface of your garden with a hand shovel to obtain a soil sample. Then add 1 to 3 teaspoons of soil to a clean jar. Remove rocks and other debris in this case as well. Then fill the jar with distilled water to the same level as the soil sample. Stir the mixture vigorously and let the solution sit for 30 minutes. Then pour the soil sample through a coffee filter and into another clean glass. However, when doing this, make sure to collect the solids and allow the liquid to pass through.

measure ph value soil with garden soil analysis test kit


Next, dip the test strip into the liquid. Pay close attention to the instructions for how long to leave the strip in it. Compare the color the test strip takes with the chart on the manufacturer’s packaging to determine the pH. Repeat the process several times with samples from different parts of your garden when measuring pH in the soil itself. This will help you determine the average value.

Other tips when testing a garden soil

in the laboratory ph value soil measure and plants better determine

If you test the soil in your garden with vinegar and baking soda and neither test shows much effect, your sample is probably in the neutral range. No further testing is needed. You can mix soil from several different samples from a small garden for the vinegar-baking soda test. However, if you have a large garden, it is better to test several soil samples separately. For garden soil that will not grow anything, it is best to send a soil sample to a lab for testing for a small fee. Based on the results, the experts can make recommendations to get you back on track.