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Checking the soil – regeneration of soil over the winter months

We can make use of the time available to us during the winter months to improve our soil. In order to determine the exact lime content, you can have your soil examined in a laboratory. In order to determine the pH value, you can also use a test kit from a specialist garden centre. With such a pH soil test, it is very easy to test which degree of acidity (pH value) the garden soil has. It can be determined within a few minutes whether the ground still requires lime or not. The pH value is decisive for the growth of plants.

How do I take a soil sample?

You can take soil samples from autumn into spring. In any case after the harvest and before the next fertilisation. Please repeat such a test every year.
Dig into the soil using a clean spade to the appropriate depth (vegetables 0 – 25 cm; lawn 0 – 10 cm; fruit trees: 0 – 30 and 30 – 60 cm). Evenly remove earth from the top to the bottom on the straight cutting edge using a trowel. Mix 10 to 15 individual samples from one area in a bucket.

Taking the type of soil and usage into account

Once you have determined the pH value, you should take the type of soil and future crops into account.  The measured pH value, and the type of soil, indicates a lime additive recommendation for home gardens. Loam and loess soils in vegetable gardens should have a pH value of 7; sandy loam soils should have a pH value of 6.5 and loamy sand soils a pH value of 6. Purely sandy soils should not have a pH value of less than 5.5.

Ideal pH values in vegetable and kitchen gardens

Soil type                                      Ideal pH values
Loam and loess soils                          7
Sandy loam soils                                  6.5
Loamy sand soils                                 6

For comprehensive instructions on how to test your garden soil along with the recommended pH levels, see this informative blog post by Milkwood - https://www.milkwood.net/2014/03/17/how-to-test-your-garden-soils-ph-and-balance-it-for-a-better-veggie-harvest/


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