So you've started your very own vegetable garden, but now you realize that different vegetables require different soil pH! So how to test soil pH without a kit? Is your soil more acidic or more alkaline? These are very important things to know, especially when you're growing fruits or vegetables as different plants require different soil acidity.  Testing soil pH without a kit is actually quite simple and all you need are a couple of ingredients that you probably already have in your home!

Knowing the pH of your soil is crucial to growing a successful crop. With this information, you can find out what types of plants you can grow, as well as what types of minerals your soil needs. A soil testing kit can easily be purchased from your local nursery, but a homemade kit works just as well, and you'll end up saving some money and a trip to the nursery. If your soil is too acidic or alkaline, for example, you may have a hard time growing certain plants. Knowing this can be the difference between a successful and lush garden, and one that's less than stellar.

How to Test Soil pH Without a Kit: A DIY Gardening Guide!

soil ph test

If you happen to live in an area that has alkaline soil (pH over 7.0), you can either grow plants that are suited to that soil or you can adjust the soil pH by adding organic materials such as peat moss, composted leaves, or pine needles. Adding these types of materials to acidic or alkaline soil with usually move the soil to the neutral range.

But how can you tell if your soil is more alkaline or more acidic without having to buy a kit? We've got 2 different options on how to test soil pH level without a kit! As a rule of thumb, you should know that most plants prefer and will thrive in slightly acidic soil, with a pH level of 5.5 to 7. pH levels over 7 are too alkaline, and pH levels under 4.5 are too acidic. Basically, you want to be somewhere in the middle.

Option 1: Vinegar and Baking Soda

These two simple ingredients can actually help you determine whether your soil is more acidic or more alkaline. It's a quick and easy test that anyone can do, and it actually works. This is perfect for the home gardener as it doesn't require any tools, and is also a great little science experiment you can teach your kids!

  1. Start by collecting soil samples from different areas in your garden.
  2. Put about 2 spoonfuls of soil into different containers.
  3. Add 1/2 cup vinegar to the soil. If it fizzes, you have alkaline soil, with a pH between 7 and 8.
  4. If it doesn't fizz, add a little bit of distilled water to the other container of soil – just enough to make it muddy.
  5. To that, add 1/2 cup of baking soda. If it fizzes, you have acidic soil, with a pH between 5 and 6.

If the soil doesn't react to either vinegar or baking soda, you have neutral soil (which is the best soil to have!). This means you won the soil lottery, and you should be able to grow almost any type of plants!

Option 2: Cabbage Water pH Test

Courtesy of Yucky Science
  1. Measure 2 cups of distilled water into a saucepan.
  2. Cut up about 1 cup of red cabbage and add it to the pan.
  3. Simmer for 5 minutes and remove from heat. Let cool for about 30 minutes.
  4. Strain off the liquid.
  5. To a jar or container, add about 2 spoonfuls of soil and add a few inches of the cabbage water.
  6. Stir well and wait for 30 minutes.
  7. If after 30 minutes the soil turns pink, it's acidic.
  8. If the soil turns blue/green, your soil is alkaline.

Both of these tests work just as well, so give either one of them a go and see what your soil is like! Like this post? Share and Pin 🙂

How to Test Soil pH Without a Kit

Testing soil pH without a kit is actually quite simple and all you need are a couple of ingredients that you probably already have in your home!
Prep Time5 mins
Total Time5 mins
Course: DIY Gardening
Cuisine: Soil pH
Keyword: diy gardening, soil ph
Yield: 1
Cost: $2

Materials

  • 2 tbsp soil from your garden
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1 tsp distilled water optional, only if needed
  • 1/2 cup baking soda

Instructions

  • Start by collecting soil samples from different areas in your garden.
  • Put about 2 spoonfuls of soil into different containers.
  • Add 1/2 cup vinegar to the soil. If it fizzes, you have alkaline soil, with a pH between 7 and 8.
  • If it doesn't fizz, add a little bit of distilled water to the other container of soil – just enough to make it muddy.
  • To that, add 1/2 cup of baking soda. If it fizzes, you have acidic soil, with a pH between 5 and 6.
  • If the soil doesn't react to either vinegar or baking soda, you have neutral soil (which is the best soil to have!).

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