In general, vegetables can grow anywhere and in any kind of soil; however, they grow best in fertile, well-drained, muddy soil like the organic sandy loam. Determining the acid content of the soil will help you choose the best type of soil to use for your vegetable garden because vegetables can react to the acid and alkaline contents of the soil in various ways. In general, most vegetable crops thrive in slightly acidic soil.
Different Vegetables for Different kinds of Soils
Although most vegetables grow in soils with low pH level, several vegetables can flourish in soils with high acid content; therefore, it’s best to consider these vegetable plants in gardens that have acidic soils. For example, all types of beans like cucumbers, marrows, parsley, peas, sweet corn, tomatoes and turnips grow in acidic and neutral soils. On the other hand, asparagus, carrots, cauliflowers, celery, leeks, lettuce, onions and spinach grow in soils that are high in alkaline content. Potatoes grow in even more acidic soil conditions.
Factors Causing High Soil pH Level
Soils are exposed to extreme geological changes, both natural and man-made. Over time, as soils grow old, they take on high levels of oxides, such as aluminum and iron; therefore, increasing the acid content and pH level. Application of soil fertilizers may help in providing nutrients for plants; however, soils with prolonged exposure to fertilization tend to develop acidic soil contents such as ammonium nitrogen and superphosphate. Still, certain kinds of soils are inherently and naturally alkaline in composition and some may contain high concentrations of organic matter resulting in high acid level.
How to Check Acid and Alkaline Content of Soils
Most vegetable crops do not do well in extremely acidic and alkaline soils. Acid soils have high deficiencies in phosphorous, magnesium or calcium. Alkaline soils, on the other hand, are deficient in zinc, copper or iron. Testing pH level of soil samples using pH litmus paper will reveal the level of acid and alkaline in the soil. After determining the pH level of the soil, it’s much easier to resolve the condition and make the soil compatible to vegetation.
How to Neutralize pH Level Problems in Vegetable Garden Soils
Adding lime and organic matter will resolve the soil’s pH level problems. Lime can increase the soil’s pH level between 0.3 and 0.7 units. To achieve best results, follow the application instructions to a tee. Apply organic matter as an alternative, especially for specific farming areas where lime application is not possible.
References and Resources:
Fertilizing Vegetable Garden Soils
Test Soil to Find its pH Value
Vegetable Garden Soil: Soil Requirements For Vegetable Plants