Natural Ways to Lower Soil Ph
Posted February 25, 2014
High soil pH can be a real problem to get optimum plant growth and health. When the soil pH starts to creep up above neutral (7.0) minerals become harder for plants to "take in" the nutrients. The higher the pH goes, the harder it becomes. Soil pH over 7.8, iron, zinc, phosphorus deficiencies are common.
Lowering the soil pH can be challenging because limestone in the soil is continually dissolving. Water in some areas are alkaline, which adds to the problem and low rainfall areas are generally higher in pH.
If your not sure of your soils pH, you should first have a soil analysis done before adjusting the pH. Simple, inexpensive kits are available to give you an idea as where to start or some garden centers will test your soil as well.
Sulfur is one of the most aggressive ways to lower soil pH. Always follow the recommended amounts! More is not better, especially when it comes to sulfur. There are excellent products that contain sulfur as well as other nutrients to help you on the road to success. Langbeinite is one we use in our alkaline soils here in Southern Utah.
When amending beds, peat moss will also help lower your soils pH. Peat moss is particularly helpful in sandy soils. However peat moss does not need to be added every time you amend your garden beds.
Adding organic matter every time you plant, in the form of compost will lower the soils pH over time. We can't say enough about compost! While helping lower the soils pH it will increase the microbial life and improve the structure of your soil. Mulch during the growing season with compost, soil conditioners and/or pine needles. This will help bring down the pH and help conserve water. That's a win win!
When fertilizing, it's important to stay away from synthetics. They are higher in salts and can raise the soil pH. Pick natural fertilizers that help lower the pH, such as Cottonseed Meal or an Acid Mix. These feed your plants while bringing down the soils safely and effectively.
Stay away from liming your soil. While agriculture lime is excellent for acidic soils, it shouldn't be used in alkaline soils. Wood ashes are often used in gardens to help raise the pH of the soil. This, again is not a good choice for alkaline soils. Very small amounts of these may not cause much of a problem for neutral soils, but when your soils pH is high alkaline, why add to the problem.
Sprinkle your coffee grounds! Don't toss those coffee grounds in the trash. Sprinkle them in areas you want to lower the soil pH.