What is This Ph thing
Acid or Alkaline this is the Question
The pH of the soil where you are is one of the most important elements in your garden. Ph. is the amount of acid or alkaline in your soil. It is measured on a 14 point scale with #7 being neutral. People that own swimming pools measure this frequently because the chemicals work or many times don’t work because the pH is incorrect. The same is true in our soils. Where I live the soil has a ph. of about 8 which is pretty high and higher than 7 or neutral and there for called an alkaline soil. Every year I see the big box stores selling blueberries to happy customers who then take them home expecting to reap a gallon or two of blueberries only to fail immediately and miserably! Why????? The blueberry needs a very acid soil… somewhere around 4.5-5. Now, they can be placed into raised beds with imported soil or using some of the bagged soil in pots, but they won’t make it in our native soils. Tomatoes have a desired ph. of 6-6.8. This is close enough to 8 to get a few tomatoes out of them but they still won’t be anything to write home about. In fact most vegetables are in pretty close to this suggested ph. level and this is one reason raised beds are the only way to create a great veggie garden here.
Can you fudge on this some? Yes you can, but just know the further you get from the desired ph. of a plant the less it will live up to its full potential.
Can you change the ph. of the soil? There have been many tests done to figure this burning question out by many universities Texas A & M being one of them. By just smothering the ground with lime (which is very acid) it looks like (and this is my interpretation) you can fool the plant into believing it is an acid soil by masking or somewhat temporarily diluting the alkalinity but the soil will very soon return to its native ph. Many people do this with Azaleas here including a very expensive collection at the Dallas Arboretum but they must continue to perform this ritual every year.
What can you do and how do you know which plants are tolerant in your area? You can observe the neighborhood’s plants. Which ones are doing well and which are not? Keep in mind that other factors such as watering, sun and shade, and daily temperatures are all factors as well but a plant in the wrong ph. will not do well even if all of the other factors are perfect for it.
The desired ph. generally is not found on the plant label (the one that tells about the amount of sun water and shade) so how do you know?????????
The University of Tennessee has put out a wonderful sheet you can find with Google called: The Desired pH Ranges and Salt Tolerance of Common Nursery Plants.
Then go do your shopping.
Remember, Gardening is a Regional Thing! And this is a MAJOR reason why.