How sweet it is

first_imgBy Mike IsbellUniversity of GeorgiaSome things you just know are sweet — ice cream, apple pie,clean babies. Farmers and gardeners sometimes refer to their soilas sweet and even speak of sweetening it.How sweet is the soil around your home? If you don’t know, youneed to find out. But don’t go out and taste a spoonful — haveit tested.”Sweet” soil is simply soil that’s only slightly acid. The pH isprobably the most important thing to know about your soil. Itshows how acid your soil is. The lower the number, the more acidthe soil.So what?It’s important to know your soil’s pH because plants have acertain pH level at which the nutrients in the soil are mostavailable to them. If the pH of your soil is wrong, the plantscould be starving for those nutrients, even if they’re rightthere in the soil.So what’s the best pH? It all depends on the plants you’re tryingto grow. Take centipede grass, for example. The pH for goodcentipede growth is 5.5, but it will tolerate a pH below 5. Othergrasses need a higher pH, somewhere around 6.If you find you have a low pH, add lime. Fortunately, that may bethe cheapest thing you soil needs.Whatever plants you have, whether they’re fruit trees, shrubs,vegetables, forages or turf, you can’t know if you need to lime,or how much lime to add, if you don’t know your soil’s pH.You need to test itTake a soil sample that’s representative of the area. To do that,get samples from 10 to 15 spots from 3 to 4 inches deep for lawns(8 to 12 inches for orchards). Mix the samples for each kind ofplant. From the mixture, bring about a pint sample to yourcounty office of the University of Georgia Extension Service.They’ll have your test results in about a week.Fall is a good time to add lime, because winter rains will helpactivate the lime in the soil. But the best time to add lime iswhenever you need it.That may be all the “sweetener” you need.(Mike Isbell is the Heard County Extension Coordinator withthe University of Georgia College of Agricultural andEnvironmental Sciences.)last_img read more