We want to test soil pH to make sure we’re planting the correct plants in our soil. We also want to test soil pH to decide whether we might want to alter the soil’s pH.
Soil tester kits come in various forms and range from electronic metres, dry indicator strips and the chemical colour dyes. For most gardeners the chemical colour dye is perfectly fine and that’s the one I’ve used in my gardening business for years.
Once you have your kit you will need a soil sample. It’s best to get a soil sample from within the top soil say 5-15cm down. Don’t take a sample where you have added anything to the soil in the past few months as this will likely skew the pH results.
If you’re using the chemical colour dye, you add a small amount of the soil to the top of the kit plate, add some of the liquid dye. Now, if the dye runs off the soil sample leaving the soil sample completely dry you have hydrophobic soil. You’ll need to deal with that and I’ve written about how to do that in another article – here.
If the liquid dye soaks in mix the liquid into the soil sample until you have a paste. Then sprinkle some of the powdered solution and watch the colour change. Typically the kit will come with a colour chart… and generally the yellow spectrum is acidic, the green spectrum is neutral and the purple spectrum is alkaline.
Test a couple of other spots to make sure your samples are indicative of the rest of the soil. Once you’re happy with the accuracy of your testing you can decide whether or not to alter the pH. I’ve written an article to help you decide whether or not to alter the soil pH.
Click here to learn more about what soil pH actually means.
Click here to learn more about transforming soil and soil ecology.