It is very easy to forget some of the basic things that help us understand what is going on in our soil. Testing the pH of your soil is one such activity. Checking pH can be done through a very simple 'in the garden' test. pH test kits are easy to use and all gardeners should have one. You can also purchase digital meters that will read soil pH, however I do like using the testing kit. The collection of the samples, mixing in the liquid, applying the powder and watching the colour develop is a nice little scientific process that can still make me feel like a “grown up.”
pH is a measurement of the power of hydrogen (hence “pH”) and this dictates the acidity or alkalinity of the soil. It is measured on a scale from 1 (extremely acid) to 14 (extremely alkaline) with 7 being neutral. Both extremes are damaging to plants, which generally prefer values between 6 and 7. Soil pH affects nutrient availability; microbial activity, biological processes and impacts on decomposition rates of organic matter. Incorrect pH can conspire to restrict root growth and limit access to water and nutrients.