Knowing your soils composition is important to the health of your plants. Soil provides the foundation for your plant growth. Good soil feeds your plants. It needs to have the right ph balance for the plants that you are growing. Plants such as azaleas and rhododendrons prefer a more acidic soil, where iron is freely available; if they don’t have it the leaves will become yellow between the veins.
To test your soil dig 6 to 8 inches deep and mix a few samples of soil gathered at different places in your yard with equal parts of water and then bury a piece of litmus paper strip in the soil. Leave in for 10 seconds, remove the strip and rinse. If the paper strip is pink then the soil is acidic. If it is blue, then leave it in an additional five minutes, remove, if it is tinged pink then the soil is slightly acidic, if it still blue then the soil is alkaline.
You can also use baking soda to test if your soil is acidic. Water your soil and sprinkle baking soda onto it, if it bubbles, the soil is acidic. You can also buy a test kit at your local garden store to do it yourself.
Add Peat Moss or small amounts of Aluminum Sulphate to neutralize alkaline soil. Add Dolomitic Lime to neutralize acid soils. Always read the labels to determine the right amount of product to use. Compost will also help neutralize soil pH and add nutrients at the same time.