The pH level is a scale that displays how acidic or alkaline something is. A pH level less than 7 means, whatever it is you are testing is dominantly acidic and a level over 7 means it is more alkaline. If you get a reading of 7 that means it is neutral which is normally water.
Simply just getting the pH reading is not enough. Once you have that reading you need to know how to make adjustments in your soil for optimum growth of the vegetables that you are planting.
Here is how you can raise and lower your soil's pH level in your home vegetable garden.
Before you can do anything to your soil you have to know what the pH level is. The best way to obtain this reading is with a pH soil testing kit from your local home or garden center. They are as inexpensive as five bucks or as complicated and expensive as a hundred dollars. The choice of which one you get is up to you.
If you soil falls under seven on the pH scale then you soil is has too much acid in it. That is ok for plants like cauliflower, but if you are going to grow carrots in that spot, you need to get it to around neutral. The best way to do this is to add lime to the soil in the early spring (at least 3 weeks before planting) or in the autumn months after the gardening season is over. It takes some time for the pH level to rise so make sure you give it enough to do so.
If the pH level reading you obtain from your soil is above then that means your soil is too alkaline and needs to come down. Most crops to not like a pH levels above 8.0. That is not to say they won't grow any vegetables or fruit, but bringing that number down will greatly help production. The best way to bring down the pH level is through composting organic materials and mixing in cow or chicken manure. If you bury your food scraps at least 18" deep in your garden throughout the year you will more than likely never run into this problem. However, just like above make sure you mix in your compost and manures long before the start of the growing season or once it has completed.
Most home vegetable gardeners never take into account the very important pH level of their soil. If you can keep this level in the optimal ranges for the plants you are going to grow, you will surely a more abundant and tastier harvest.
About the Author
Mike is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the Rest of Us, available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and where ever gardening books are sold. For more vegetable gardening advice, Mike can be reached at his website: AveragePersonGardening.com.