It is a well known fact that the condition of your soil will reflect on how well your plants grow. If you wish to achieve better results take the time to look at your soil and improve it if neccessary.
The key to improving your garden soil is to diagnose its deficiencies; get the pH readings correct by ammending the soil and you will reap the rewards of a great harvest. If you visit your local garden centre you can purchase a pH meter which will easily identify what the current levels are of your garden soil, they are quite cheap and easy to use, no rocket science involved. You can also contact your local state cooperative extension service to have your soil tested. To get the best informed readings of your garden soils health, take readings from half a dozen different spots. By looking at these readings and determining what plants you want to grow you can decide what action is needed to correct the condition of the soil.
Garden soil can be classed as acidic with a pH range of 1-7, neutral with a pH of 7 or alkaline with a pH of 7-14. Nutrients in the garden soil are most readily available to plants at a neutral range of around 6.0-7.0 so this is the reading that you should try to achieve.
If the soil is too acidic then the plants cannot utilize the nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and other nutrients they need. Toxic metals are more available to plants in acidic soils and they will be susceptible to poisoning from these substances. In alkaline soils iron, manganese and phosphorous are not as available to the plants.
If you have tested the soil and need to make it less acidic then add lime, limestone, or wood ash. If however you need to make it less alkaline then add sulfur or naturally organic materials such as conifer needles, sawdust or peat moss. Take care with the amounts used to ensure you change the conditions slowly, over a couple of seasons.
While most plants really enjoy 6.0 to 7.0 (a slightly acidic to neutral range) there are plants that defy the norm, just to keep you on your toes, so you can benefit from this knowledge and make sure your efforts are rewarded with the great crops only a healthy garden soil will give you.
The following list shows the optimum pH range for some common trees and shrubs for them to thrive and become good healthy plants. For details of the soil requirements for plants that are not listed you can contact me.
AppleTree 6.0-6.5, Blueberry 4.0-6.0, Cherry,sour 6.0-7.0, Chestnut 5.0-6.5, Fir, Douglas 5.0-6.0, Hydrangea Blue Flowers 4.0-5.0, Hydrangea Pink Flowers 6.0-7.0, Juniper 5.0-6.0, Lemon 6.0-7.5, Pear 6.0-7.5, Plum 6.0-8.0,
Vegetables again will mostly thrive in the pH range of 6.0- 7.0 however some have a wider tolerance.
Asparagus 6.0-8.0, Bean 6.0-7.5, Beet 6.0-7.5, Brussel Sprouts 6.0-7.5, Cauliflower 5.5-7.5, Celery 5.8-7.0, Cucumber 5.5-7.0, Garlic 5.5-8.0, Potato 4.8-6.5, Pumpkin 5.5-7.5.
Flowers follow the same trend; you will have wonderful results just by correcting the pH levels, rather like adjusting your own diet so that your health benefits.
Begonias 5.5-7.0, Black eyed Susan 5.5-7.0, Geraniums 6.0-8.0, Clematis 5.5-7.0, Daffodils 6.0-7.0, Dahlias 6.0-7.5, Foxglove 6.0-7.5, Gladiolus 5.0-7.0, Hibiscus 6.0-8.0, Hollyhock 6.0-8.0, Marigold 5.5-7.5, Rose 5.5-7.0.
If you wish to grow a lush green lawn the pH should be 7.0 or above; if the pH falls lower than this then fungal diseases may become a problem.
Any adjustments that need to be made to the soil may not seem worthwhile, but believe me, they are. You will achieve fantastic rewards for your efforts, a great looking garden and an amazing harvest.