Six Tips How to Improve Soil Quality

How to test soil acidity

Most vegetable crops are sensitive if the soil acidity does not correspond to certain growth conditions. It is necessary to test the soil acidity. The soil is considered alkaline if its vinegar-wet sample reacts the same way as baking soda. Soil acidity can also be tested with the help of a paper indicator sold in stores for gardeners. Use rainwater-wet or distilled water and the soil sample, put together, and see the result in different colors:

*green indicates alkaline soil

*blue indicates neutral soil

*yellow indicates subacidic soil

*pink or red color indicates acidic soil.

How to transform acidic soil into neutral or alkaline

Improve Soil QualityEach type of plant prefers soil where its ancestors naturally grew. Therefore, some plants like acidic soils, while others grow well only in alkaline ones. The majority of plants generally prefer neutral or alkaline soil. Therefore, if you have acidic soil but want your plants to grow well in neutral or alkaline soil, you can make it neutral. Before putting the plant into the soil, add bone flour. It will enrich the soil with calcium and, thus, make it neutral or alkaline, depending on the amount of fertilizer. Moreover, this will stimulate plant flowering.

The phosphoric flour is also used for changing soil acidity, though the plants poorly absorb this fertilizer. In this case, the phosphoric flour is mixed with organic fertilizers. As a result, the acid soil becomes neutralized and the plants get some digestible fertilizer.

How to transform alkaline soil into neutral or acidic

There are plants that grow well only in acidic soil, for example, conifers, rhododendrons, azaleas, hydrangeas, or heather. They become well developing and abundantly blooming in acidic soil. To turn alkaline or neutral soil into acid, use ammonium nitrate, calurea, and ammonium sulfate. These are mineral fertilizers that are used for increasing cultivated plant crops.

How to identify the composition of the existing soil

Improve Soil QualityAccording to the mechanical composition, soil is divided into:

  • Clay
  • Clay-loam
  • Sandy loam
  • Sandy

Typically, for planting in containers you can buy soil of any consistency or acidity. However, if you already have soil and need another type of it, you should identify its composition first. Take some wet soil and rotate by the way the roller is formed. If the sample is both flexible enough and folds into a ring with no cracks, then you are dealing with clay soil.

On the contrary, if you get any cracks, there is loamy soil in your hand. Then, if you try to roll it up but it does not work, then it is either sandy loam or sandy soil. Sandy soil can be visually recognized too, because it runs out of hands.

What is the acidity of peat and how to reduce it

Improve Soil QualityWhat is peat? These are decomposed remains of moor plants. Usually, peat has the acidity of 4 - 5pH. The higher the quality of peat is, the more fertility and lower acidity it has. To reduce the acidity in 1m³ of peat, you have to add approximately 55 lb. of mineral phosphorus fertilizer (phosphate), making it available for plants. The use of phosphate is environmentally safe.

If there is not any, it is possible to mix peat with 26 lb. of wood ash or lime. These are also excellent fertilizers, harmless to plants and reducing the acidity of peat. Many gardeners use peat soil to improve the existing soil structure. Peat is known to absorb large quantities of moisture, keeping it and then gradually giving it to plants. Hydrangeas or azaleas, for example, can be grown in peat, as they like acidic soil very much. The key is to improve both structure of peat and its water conductivity, mixing it with sand or expanded clay pellets. Finally, if you bought peat, keep it poachy. The fact is that after drying up, peat is slowly waterlogged.