Landscaping Basics: Test The Soil Before You Plant Your Summer Vegetable Garden

18 June 2015
 Categories: Home & Garden, Blog


If you're ready to plant your summer vegetables, be sure to test the soil before you do so. Soil can be acidic, alkaline or neutral, depending on how much rain your area receives throughout the year, especially during summer's rainy season. If the vegetables you want to plant require a neutral or alkaline environment, they won't grow well in acidic soil and vice versa. Here are things to know about acidic, alkaline and neutral soil, as well as how to test your soil so that you plant the right vegetables in your garden.

What's the Difference Between Acidic Soil and Alkaline Soil?

Acidic and alkaline are two terms used to describe the potential hydrogen or pH levels found in liquids. When determining the pH levels of soil, you measure the acidity or alkalinity of its water content. If your soil has a low pH level, it may be too acidic. High pH levels means that your soil is alkaline.

Rainwater contains carbonic acid, which makes it moderately acidic. When other factors, such as smog and smoke pollutants mix with carbonic acid, the acidity of rainwater increases. The more acidic rainwater falls on your soil, the lower the pH levels will be.

If your location is dry and arid, the soil's pH levels may run on the low side. But if your location receives moderate rainfalls, the soil can be neutral, which means it has a pH level of 7.

Most vegetables, such as carrots, thrive better in neutral soil. However, a number of vegetables tolerate acidic soil exceptionally well. Depending on the pH levels of your soil, you can decide on what types of vegetables to plant in your garden. You'll need to test your soil to find out. 

How Do You Test Your Soil?

You can check the pH levels of your soil without a store-bought test kit. All you need is baking soda, two plastic spoons, and a glass bowl. Baking soda is a great acid-neutralizer for a number of things, including stomach acids and plumbing clogs. If your soil has a high acid content, the baking soda will react by fizzing.

Be sure to use a clean, dry bowl and spoon to avoid contaminating your test soil with detergents and other residue. Otherwise, you won't receive accurate test results.

Now, here's what you do:

  • Add 3 cups of distilled water to the bowl — distilled water doesn't contain chemicals that can disrupt the test
  • Place 2 spoonfuls of baking soda into the bowl
  • Use the other plastic spoon to remove 2 spoonfuls of the soil from your garden, then place the soil into the bowl
  • Stir the contents in the bowl, then wait

If the soil contains a lot of acids, the baking soda will fizz immediately. If the soil is slightly acidic or alkaline, the baking soda will be slow to fizz or not at all. Once your complete the test, you can choose the right vegetables for your garden.

If you need additional help with your garden or testing the soil in it, contact your landscaping contractors today. Visit a site like to learn about other landscaping that could be done to your yard to complement a garden.