Potential Hydrogen Ions or pH shows the type of the soil that you have or amount of lime or calcium that the soil has. As a general rule, soils in moist climates tend to be acidic while those in drier areas tend to be more alkaline. When the measure of the soil is below 7.0, then the soil is deemed as acidic, while if the pH measure of the soil is more than 7.0, then the soil is alkaline in nature. All plants give themselves to different degrees of soil acidity and some plants like Rhododendrons or Heathers are extremely sensitive to the acid nature of the soil. Therefore it’s important that the soil have the correct pH balance to help plants grow effectively. If you have a county extension office nearby you can take a soil sample and they will give you the results of your soil. You can then take appropriate action. Alternatively you can buy a soil pH test kit and have the results instantly. They also sell soil pH meters that will give readings of your soils current conditions. This type of pH tester usually runs on batteries.
Wood ashes are a great way to neutralize a high acid soil. They are twice as effective as ground limestone. Wood ashes are also good for a compost pile, as they will neutralize the mixture, thus aiding the breakdown of materials. Compost helps to keep the pH balance of the soil correct. When the balance of the soil has become increased, because the gardener or the farmer has added too many wood ashes, the simplest way to decrease it is by adding compost. Thus the compost will soak up the extra ions in the soils. Hence buffering the effects of other soil additives. It’s one of simplest and one of the most economical methods of reducing the pH balance of the soil.
Since compost can easily take away the extra ions, it also helps the soil from leeching away the nutrients and been over fertilized. This is natures way of keeping the balance and it sure works wonders. Many gardeners never have to worry about their soil pH, as they naturally add compost and thus keep the pH balance intact without even realizing it.
It’s imperative to understand that soil is like a living organism. For healthy soil, it needs to be replenished on a continuous basis. If the soil is healthy, it gives natural protection to the plants that thrive on it as well as providing a security cover against the diseases, which may affect the plants.