I love my acid loving Rhododendrons, Azaleas and many other ericaeous plants. So no wonder I have a ‘kit’ to test my soil for the level of alkalinity or acidity. Having said that I think it is a waste of time and money in the majority of cases. I now try to use commonsense instead.
Prized plants get appropriate compost and dare I say it ‘Peat treats’. Peat goes in any planting hole and is worked in around as a mulch. Feed and fertiliser is often chosen because it has been formulated for ericaeous plants. The acidity of the soil is not a fertilizer in itself but is a conduit that allows the plant to use what food is available too much lime locks food into the soil and plants will suffer.
I try to avoid making matters worse so no lime in the garden where my best Rhodos live. Blueberries are failing in my Fruitery because they can’t get nutrient out of the soil. So it is my intention to pot them up into good pots with better ericaeous compost.
I spread some lime on the area where I will be growing brassicas as they perform much better in a slightly alkaline soil.
Notes on pH
pH soil levels start from 1 to 14 from pure acid to pure alkali. Normal levels for soil are around 6.4 to 7.1. More acidic soil would be 5.3 to 6.5. Alkaline soil would be from 7.2 to 7.6.
Soil can leach out the soluble acids or alkalies to move to neutral conditions unless the surrounding geological conditions dictate.
If you still intend pH testing you can buy chemical tests or a meter similar to that below