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At the Cottage by the Mountains, it’s finally spring, and the garden planting has commenced: peas, beans, beets, spinach, chard, and onions are currently underway. Various squash and pumpkin starts are next up to move outdoors, and last fall’s garlic planting is looking great. Here we go!

Garden experts say that plants grow best in a neutral pH environment…not too acidy, not to alkaline. 6 or 7 on the pH scale is good. So now that many of us are getting ready to sow our gardens, how can we find out about the soil’s acidity?

pH test kits are readily available at home and garden stores, but here’s a simple and sorta free way to test your soil’s pH level, with stuff you probably have in your cupboard.


Go out to your garden and scoop some soil into a cup or jar. Add a half cup of vinegar. If the soil bubbles, it’s alkaline. In a separate container, scoop a fresh sample, and add 1/2 cup baking soda mixed in 1/2 cup water. Fizzing here says your soil is acidy.

To bring your garden soil into the neutral range, you will need to add to or “amend” your soil, as they say in Gardenland. Amend your soil with wood ash or lime, if it’s acidic. Amend your soil with sulfur or pine needles, if it’s alkaline. There are probably other amendments your local garden store would recommend as well.

The Damsel wishes you good luck with Garden 2013.

EDIT: please see the comments for a very informative link on adding pine needles to your soil or compost pile.





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  • Im gonna try this immediately

  • TerrieTX

    Now to find some pine needles…

  • Serene

    Hey there my old bloggy buddy! So fun to see you pop up in my comments again!
    Yes, despite the fact that my blog has taken a real nose dive, I keep it limping along. LOL!

    How are you??

    And wow, totally need to do this to my soil. My garden was kind wimpy last year. 🙂

  • Kristy L

    That is so much easier than buying strips… so much goo info!

  • Kristy L

    *good info :/

  • Erin Tatum

    Smart! Thanks for sharing!

    Erin @ The Great Indoors

  • pegasuspig

    Please refer to http://wood.uwex.edu/2010/11/18/pine-needles-cause/ on the myths of adding pine needles to the garden. It links to the U. of Wisconsin extension.

    • thedamselindisdress

      So good to know! I will edit the post with your info. Thanks for taking the time!
      Margot (The Damsel)