In Gardenprue we have already talked in depth about pH, that figure that can annoy us a lot if it moves away from the values established by most crops.
Before thinking about planting or setting up a garden, an essential requirement is to know the characteristics of the soil (content of clay, silt, sand, etc.), the organic matter and the pH. Go for it.
MEASURE THE PH OF YOUR GARDEN WITH A TOTALLY HOMEMADE METHOD
Well, first of all we are going to get up to date with the content and information that we already have here about pH.
If it is your first time here and you are interested in this topic, we will refresh your memory with the following articles:
However we are missing one thing, to analyze the soil . We know what deficiencies we are going to have depending on the values that come out, what we can plant and how to change it, in the event that we have to.
For this we are not going to resort to laborious methods with samples, diluents or electronic devices, nor are we going to indicate the best home laboratories.
Today, our motto will be DIY (“Do It Yourself”).
Of course, the results that we can expect from such a homemade procedure are not going to give us decimals nor are we going to know very precisely the pH value in which our soil moves. However, we will not need it either unless it goes outside the normal values.
In this case we will say that the normal is between 6 and 7.5, although it will depend on the use we want to give it. For example, blueberries need a value of 5 to grow optimally.
MATERIALS NEEDED TO MEASURE PH AT HOME
- PH strips (can be found in hypermarkets, hardware stores, Amazon, etc).
- Distilled water.
- Shovel or hoe and container
The pH strips are usually sold for measuring the pH of the pools, but they are equally valid to measure the ground, if you know how. They have colors to which a number corresponds, ranging from 1 to 14. When we introduce them into the solution that we want to measure, it will take on a color. Then it is a matter of comparing with the table that comes in the box. Very simple.
The distilled water has a reason, has pH 7, neutral. If we add water from the tap or from another source we are distorting the measurement.
We could be mixing the soil of pH, for example, 6 with tap water, of pH 8 and it would give us a result around neutral, but it really is not like that.
THE MOST IMPORTANT TASK, THE SOIL SAMPLE
When taking a soil sample, it is not enough to take neither 1 nor 2 small samples. If a small piece of land has, for whatever reason, a significant variation in pH with respect to the rest of the land, we are already making a very big mistake that we will pay for with effort and money.
There are 3 ways to get soil samples : zigzag, grid or diagonal. We personally prefer grid.
Imagine that you want to know the pH of your garden, which is 20 square meters. You can divide it into 20 equal parts, at the rate of 1 square meter each, or even 2 square meters, if you don’t want to work so much.
If you are going to grow vegetables or greens, that is, herbaceous, the ideal is that you collect the samples at a depth of between 10 and 45 cm. If you are going to take, for example, 10 samples, take one at 10 cm, another at 20 cm, another at 30 cm, another at 40 cm, and so on, randomly.
If you are going to grow fruit trees , when you deepen the roots of the trees, you have to go further, obtaining samples at a height of between 40 and 80 cm.
Once the samples are collected, we mix them homogeneously (the same amount of each sub-sample) and place it in a container. Next we add distilled water to the mix.
In some action protocols they recommend mixing equal parts of earth and distilled water (1: 1). That is, if you add 100 grams of substrate, add 100 grams of distilled water.
Everything will depend on how pasty the mixture is and if it is necessary to add more so that it can be measured with the pH strip.
We stir the mixture of earth and distilled water to form a paste and let it rest for a few hours. 1 or 2 hours will be enough. Then it will simply be to insert the strip trying to submerge it in the excess distilled water and observe the color it takes.
In this example we see how the pH strip, once submerged, has a pH that is between 9 and 10. More pulling for 10 than for 9.
Logically we do not believe that it is a mixture of soil (poor horticulturist), but with this we would already know an average pH value in which we move. A very simple technique to perform and very effective.
Knowing this value, we can already see what plants to use in the garden , what deficiencies will surely appear (or not) and how to proceed to balance the value if we have a very alkaline or very acidic soil.
WHAT TO DO IF THE VALUES ARE TOO HIGH OR TOO LOW?
What we would do is perform another sampling, this time taking more samples and randomly changing the procedure.
That is, do it diagonally or in a zig zag . If a very similar result appears again, surely we are not making a mistake.
Just in case we could request a rigorous laboratory analysis, although that will depend on the farmer’s budget and if it is really worth it.