Soil Testing

December is the traditional month to go through the seed catalogues, decide what you want to grow and make that all important list. Of course it it’s very important to know what type of soil you have in your garden. Soil type is measured in pH (potential hydrogen). This is compiled on a scale of 1 to 14 with 7 being regarded as neutral, although in gardening terms 6.5 will support most plants. Below 7 is acid and above alkaline. If you want the best out of your garden send soil samples away for professional analysis for both pH and nutrient content or utilise a kit or meter. If your soil is too acid, you need to add alkaline material. The most common "liming" material is ground limestone. Ground limestone breaks down slowly, but it does not burn plants like "quick lime" does. Apply it to the garden and lawn in the now to allow time for it to act on soil pH before the next growing season. If your soil is Alkaline you need to add a source of acid. Options include pine needles, shredded leaves, compost or manure. Pine needles are a good source of acid and mulch. Adding plenty of composted kitchen waste which is slightly acid will also improve the situation as well as feeding your plants.