A simple baking soda and vinegar DIY soil pH test kit may become a game-changer for your garden. Find out if your garden soil is acidic or alkaline with this easy at-home method.
For those unaware, soil pH influences plant growth by maintaining nutrient levels. Even with the best soil amendments and fertilizers, your garden can suffer if your soil pH doesn’t meet the optimal range.
This easy pH test will help ensure that everything runs smoothly underground.
Homemade Soil pH Test Kit
Using this basic DIY soil pH experiment to monitor the general pH of your soil is a great place to begin in creating healthy soil.
This simple test will give you the basic pH range for your garden soil. If you have site specific or plant specific pH needs, then take a look at a more precise pH monitor that also tests for light and water.
But, for general practices, this home experiment should work out well. Results will help you alter soil fertilization practices according to garden’s general pH level.
Here’s a quick chart of pH ranges for main crop vegetables.
Why Does Soil pH Matter?
Most homemade soil tests determine the acidity (below pH 7), alkalinity (over pH7), and neutrality (pH 7) of soil by determining the number of hydrogen ions in the soil.
Many garden vegetable varieties can adapt their soil pH preferences and thrive anywhere between 6 and 7.5. Others have specific requirements.
Soil Acidity vs Alkalinity
For instance, tomatoes can’t stand alkalinity. They need slightly acidic soil (6.2 to 6.8) for healthy growth and development.
In contrast, cauliflower and cabbages require higher pH values (7 to 8 pH levels). You can monitor soil composition by keeping a DIY soil pH test kit handy.
The slightest change can stunt plant growth. To answer the question, soil pH levels matter because it impacts the kind of harvest you end up with at the end of the season.
Homemade soil tests give you a good idea of the alkalinity and acidity of your soil. If things seem amiss, you can make relevant adjustments.
It’s a practical fall gardening tip since you get sufficient time to restore ideal pH conditions before the next harvest.
Best of all, you can find everything you need in your pantry!
Learn how to test soil pH step by step:
- One cup of soil samples
- 2 Clean glass canning jars to test soil
- Measuring cup (for liquids)
- Clean distilled water*
- Vinegar (acidic agent)
- Baking soda (base agent)
*Distilled water is important as tap water may contain hard or soft minerals which will skew your results.
- Soil sample:. Dig at least 5-7 inches below the surface of your plant bed to collect your soil sample. This is important to test the pH level in the root zone area.
- Remove debris from your sample. Break large clumps to remove twigs, stones, rocks, and other waste material.
- Mix soil with water. Put about 1/2 cup of soil into each clear glass container and pour in 1/2 cup of water into each jar. Stir until your soil sample turns into mud.
- Alkalinity test. Stir in ½ cup of vinegar. Alkaline soil will create bubbles and make the surface of the mixture foam. Non-alkaline soil doesn’t show any change.
- Repeat steps 1-3 to check soil pH for acidity level.
- Acidity Test. Add ½ cup of baking soda into the muddy mixture. Stir well. Acidic soil will cause the mixture to foam, create fizzing sounds or bubbles. Non-acidic soil will not change the mixture much.
Lastly, if your solid doesn’t react to this homemade soil test, then it’s probably neutral.
Learning to adjust your soil pH levels to create the ideal environment for your garden is an important step in maintaining a healthy garden!
Our soil is more Alkaline as shown in the photo on the right. It bubbled up quite a bit when the vinegar was added.
The photo on the left shows the reaction when of the soil was mixed with the baking soda. There was much less bubbling.
Test results might be skewed a bit if there is a large amount of organic matter in the soil sample.
I noticed that I had some organic matter in my soil samples after adding the water. But, the results were dramatic enough to indicate that we have a more alkaline soil.
Testing and targeting your soil pH can help tremendously when creating a proper environment for better plant growth with a higher yield.
Looking for more fall gardening tips? Head over to my garden guide.