How Do You Test Soil?


Quick Answer

Gardeners can test acidic or alkaline levels of soil with a pH testing kit, or use a do-it-yourself method with vinegar and baking soda, according to Organic Gardening at About.com. Scoop soil into a plastic container, and pour 1/2 cup of vinegar into the container. If the soil starts to fizz or bubbles, it is alkaline.

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Full Answer

If there is no reaction to the vinegar, scoop fresh soil into a second container. Pour in 1/2 cup of water, and mix. When finished mixing, add 1/2 cup of baking soda. If the soil starts to fizz or bubbles, the soil is highly acidic.

If the soil is acidic, put a thin layer of lime or wood ash on the soil, and then rake over the surface to mix it together. If it is alkaline, mix sulfur into the soil, or use pine needles around the plants as a mulch. If pine needles are used, they do not need to be mixed in with the soil, they break down into the soil over time. Push the pine needle mulch 2 inches from around the base of the plant.

Sending the soil off to a lab provides more detailed information, but using a home test provides sufficient information to determine if the soil is acidic or alkaline. Test the soil once a year, as the pH levels can change. Some plants require soil to be acidic or alkaline in order to thrive.

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