Understanding soil testing methods may be the key if you're having difficulty getting your garden established. Soil quality can promote flourishing amounts of weeds or thriving flowers and plants.
The types of soil are chalk, clay, loam, sand and silt. Geographic locations around the world can have one soil type or a combination. The same for your yard.
There may even be the combination of completely
healthy areas in your lawn and other areas where the soil
health is out of balance and vegetation struggles to get established.
Red-Acidic Soil , Yellow-Neutral Soil , Blue-Alkaline Soil , Black-No Data
Imbalances can be a result of the age of the lawn and treatments with fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides over the years along with drainage conditions.
Don't throw good money away after bad by buying abundant amounts of fertilizers. This is not a guarantee to solve soil problems. Learning about any imbalances in soil starts first with investing in a soil testing kit. These soil testing kits measure the pH of soil and if you are pinching pennies many can be a less expensive than other soil testing methods.
The pH scale is based on numbers 0 through 14 with 7 being the mid-point, which is neutral. As values decrease from 7 they are acidic with 0 being extremely acidic soil. As values increase from 7 they are alkaline, with 14 being the extreme.
Extreme acidity or alkalinity can hinder plant and flower growth, even leaving them vulnerable to plant diseases.
Most plants and grasses grow best between 6.0 and 7.0. Even better is 6.5 to 7.0, or slightly more acidic. This is because most nutrients for plant life are found in this range. Plants really thrive at exactly 6.5.
Soil ranging between 5.0 to 8.0 is considered satisfactory. Some shrubs and flowers, such as Azaleas, Camellias, Gayfeather and Red Milkweed grow best at about 5.0 soil acid.
The eastern United States has higher soil acidity. To raise soil pH lime is added.
Lime (limestone) is the cornerstone to highly efficient soil. Micro-organisms flourish and soil structure is improved. When lime content is balanced herbicides and fertilizers are most effective.
Two types of limestone are used to correct garden soil pH:
There is another fast acting hydrated lime that is called 'Quicklime'. It is important to wear gloves, safety glasses, face mask and cover arms and legs. It is caustic and causes burns.
Other methods that help raise soil pH are adding bonemeal, crushed oyster or clam shells, crushed marble, eggshells and wood ashes.
Although the western United States has its share of acidic soil, there is more alkaline soil to be found than in the eastern states.
To lower soil pH elemental sulfur is added. There are 2 forms, powdered and granulated, where each requires gloves, safety glasses and a face mask.
Other solutions include adding acidic an organic soil amendment such as cottonseed meal, pine needles, wood shavings, peat moss, leaf mold and sawdust (especially beech or oak).
Either way, to lower soil pH is more difficult to do than raising it. Both, however, are a slow, steady process.
Phosphorus, potassium and nitrogen in soil are also very important and necessary when doing any kind of garden soil testing. These are the basis of mineral nutrients.
There are two primary soil testing methods available
Once you begin to apply Limestone, Sulfur and other
soil amendments it is a slow process.
Corrections should be applied in several small applications. This is highly effective as compared to one big application. It is also more cost efficient.
It is also recommended testing soil pH every month your first growing season while making amendments and the second year. As improvements remain from these previous years garden soil testing can then start to be done every 2 to 3 years.
While going through this process you may find this information an interesting point to note..
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