One of the first major things to do before starting an indoor garden is to check the quality of soil with the best soil test kit. Successful Growers always take care of their soil pH.
Carry out the soil pH test and adjust the conditions according to your plants.
Save your plants and money, test your soil pH to make it better for your crops.
In this post, you will get every possible information about soil pH testing kits and their uses.
What is the Best soil pH for Plants?
pH stands for potential hydrogen. When you are testing your soil pH means you are measuring the number of hydrogen atoms present in the soil. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14. More hydrogen ions in the soil mean the soil is acidic. Alkaline soil has less concentration of hydrogen ion.
If your pH tester shows a reading less than 7 this means the substance is acidic, 7 means neutral neither acidic nor alkaline, and anything higher than 7 is alkaline.
The recommended range of pH reading is 6 to 7.5 this is considered being perfect for plant growth. Plants need a balanced pH to grow means the perfect combination of acidic and alkaline.
Adjust the pH of your soil and water according to the growing plant. Every plant needs a different pH to grow healthy and strong.
Why soil testing is so important?
Soil testing is important and expert growers always measure the pH level of soil, nutrients, and water before planting. It tells the fertility of the soil and the presence of nutrients in it. All plants do not grow in the same pH range. Some plants like to grow in an acidic environment while others in alkaline soil. But 6 to 7.5 pH is perfect for every type of plant.
Those crops which like to grow in slightly or more acidic soil, pH of 6 is good for them, you can also adjust it to the 5.5 if required. Whereas alkaline plants like to grow in a pH range of 6 to 7.5. Above 7.5 is very alkaline for plants they can survive in these conditions but do not show proper growth.
Before supplying the nutrients to your soil, you need to measure the pH level first. Otherwise, your added nutrients can increase or decrease the soil pH. Neutral pH of soil encourages the decomposition in the soil which breaks down the chemical bonds and supplies the required nutrients to the plant easily.
If the pH goes below or above the mid-range this locking up the nutrients in the soil. Plants became unable to take up the nutrients which result in improper growth and death of the plant. Try to grow them in recommended pH range (which is mid-range)
The best soil test kits and soil meters
Different types of soil test kits are present in the market. Each has its own level of accuracy.
The most affordable form of pH testing is a pH testing strip or paper. All you need to do is take the sample of the soil and add some water in it, once the soil turns into mud dip the testing strip, it will change its color then match the color with the given color chart and note the reading. This is quite affordable methods but it is not accurate and we do not recommend this technique.
The second type is sticks which are better than the paper method.
The third is a digital meter where you get the digital reading and this method is the most accurate method of measuring soil pH. With the help of digital pH meters, you can measure the pH of water, nutrients, soil, and other solutions.
Steps to choose best soil test kit
- Type of soil pH tester meter: Select the type of pH meter first. Some meters only measure pH of soil while others measure pH, moisture level in the soil and light levels of soil.
Choose 2-in-1 or 3-in-1 testing meters according to your budget. New models of pH meters are also available which measure sunlight intensity along with other standard measurements.
- Design: Select the design according to your choice. Round dial, square face, analog reading meter, and digital reading meters are available. some of them have two probes while the latest ones come with single prob all you need to do is select the function from the given switch. Once you select the pH button it will measure pH for other measurements select different switches(moisture button, soil fertility, etc).
- The durability of the device: DO not buy cheap products to save some bucks. By selecting a low-quality product, you are not saving your money, in fact, you are wasting your money on such products which are useless. Buy high-quality pH measuring meter which is lightweight, durably made with quality material and is tested.
How to use soil test kit and Soil pH meter?
- Dig a small hole in the soil which you want to use for planting. The hole should be 4 inches deep minimum or as instructed by the manufacturer of pH device. Remove all the foreign stuff from the soil.
- In the second step use the distilled water and fill the hole up to the top edges, wait for the water to be soaked by the soil. Do not use tap or bottled water they are not good for a pH soil test. You can get distilled water form any pharmacy, it is affordable to buy and you can store it for future use.
- Once the soil turns muddy insert the probes of pH meter into the mud. Make sure the probes are clean.
- Hold the meter for at least one minute and then note the reading. Repeat the same procedure two to three times in different parts of the garden to take the average reading of pH.
Things which disturb the pH of a soil
Many things affect the soil pH which are explained below.
- Water: The water you use for irrigation affects the pH of the soil. If your water is acidic then it will disturb the pH of the soil. So, you need to test your water before supplying it to the plants.
- Fertilizers: Fertilizers have their own pH level which you have to adjust according to your plant. Once the fertilizers come in contact with water their pH goes down only if water the supplied water is alkaline. You can adjust the pH of nutrients by adjusting the pH of your water. We advise you to mix the nutrients in the water before supplying to the plants and check the pH of the mixture (here you can adjust it by adding more water).
- Climate conditions: In the rainy season the soil became acidic because the water takes away many supplied nutrients to the plants. Dry areas have alkaline soil because there is less movement of water and salts, minerals in the soil get concentrated and sit at one place. which increases the pH of soil and you get an alkaline soil.
How to maintain your device?
Follow the below maintenance steps to take care of your home soil test kit.
Clean the electrodes after every use. Rinse them under distilled water to clean them properly. If in case the soil is still sticking to the electrode then use an electrode cleaning solution to clean it.
When the device is not in use place it in a cool and dry place away from direct sunlight and moisture. Both these can affect the life of the electrode.
Read the instruction manual and follow the steps of calibration so that you will get a correct reading every time you use.
When you are going to store it for a long time making sure it is properly clean and there is no residue left behind after the cleaning.
What are the benefits of having a soil test kit at home?
Most of the growers do not pay attention to the quality of their soil. But I always check it before planting any plant. It helps to produce more and high-quality yield.
Soil testing also helps you to understand the needs of your plant and you can buy a perfect fertilizer for them. many people buy random fertilizers from the market and spread all over the garden this action disturbs the pH of the soil.
- Soil testing allows you to find out the nutrient level in your soil. Insert the electrode and select the fertility switch, wait for 60 seconds to get reading, when you get the number on meter screen then check the given chart which comes with the meter to know the ratio of N-P-H in your soil.
- Soil tester helps you to make a better decision when it comes to fertilizers. You can check which nutrient is absent in your soil. Buy only that nutrient, this can save your money on buying unnecessary fertilizers.
- Helps to monitor the nutrient level, sunlight intensity, moisture level in the soil and of course the pH level.
- Helps to make a better plan of fertilizing the soil.
- Help you to learn about the soil in your garden
Alternate Ways of Soil Testing
If you do not want to use a soil tester or right now want to spend money on some other important works then follow the following steps.
- Dig the soil 7 inches deep take a sample of the soil
- make sure the soil is clean no debris and no clumps in it if any remove them from the soil.
- Now take a glass container with one cup of water and add the soil into it.
- Once the soil turns into mud mix the vinegar in it, only half of the cup
- If you see the bubbles then this is the indication of alkalinity of a soil.
FOR ACIDIC TEST FOLLOW THE BELOW STEPS
All steps are the same as the above mentioned the difference is where you add baking soda instead of vinegar.
If bubbles formed this indicates the soil is acidic if nothing appears means soil is alkaline.
There are many other alternative methods but we do not suggest you measure your soil pH with alternative methods. They are not accurate at all you can use them only if want to know the overall condition of your soil (means idea about the type of your soil).
Soil testing meters can give exact readings by using which you can grow healthy plants and get more yield.