Determine the soil type
A simple check of what type of soil can be determined by the consistency and behavior of the soil during deformation. Watching and feeling are required. However, some earth is needed for this.
A ground-breaking ceremony at said place and a handful of earth provide first information. First, the earth is formed into a sphere. Then the ball is rolled out to a sausage:
- If the soil is grainy and falls apart when forming the sausage, it is a light soil / sandy soil.
- If the soil is smooth and sticky, stays together well, and the sausage is easy to shape, it is a heavy soil / loamy soil.
The mud sample provides further information about the type of soil. For this garden, the soil is mixed in a glass with water and stirred well or shaken. Heavy components such as stones and sand sink to the bottom, while humus floats on the surface. If the water becomes cloudy, it is loamy soil.
An exact analysis of the soil, together with fertilizer recommendations, is available for a professional soil examination. This is partly offered by hardware stores, garden centers, but also by public agencies. The spectrum of tests ranges from simple analyzes for hobby gardeners to legally required inspections of entire fields or vegetable gardens. For hobby gardeners, usually sufficient is the simple chemical analysis of the underlying soil properties (pH, salinity) and the content of the primary nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium. The costs amount to about 50 €.
For the first time soil analysis, it is recommended to additionally detect the trace elements iron, manganese, zinc, copper, and boron. If required and depending on the region, further analyzes can be carried out (e.g., humus content, the content of heavy metals).
Whether the analysis is to be made in the laboratory or whether even the pH value in the soil is to be measured – the sampling is the same in both cases. Depending on the size of the garden and the type of soil to be checked, there are small differences in sampling. Each soil sample shall be taken from a surface having uniform soil conditions. With apparent differences in the soil, several examples are necessary.
For sampling, the soil is extracted evenly up to 10 points. This is done with the spade into the ground; the cut surfaces are then pressed apart. On one side of the hole, a thin layer of earth is tapped. The height of the layer of soil or the depth of the hole should be 20-30 cm for a vegetable garden and 8-10 cm for a grass soil sample. These samples are collected in a vessel such as a disc chest or bucket and mixed well. From this amount, the sample for the laboratory or the own pH value measurement can be taken.
Measure the PH of the Soil
Once the soil sample has been taken, the pH in the soil can be measured. To do this, first place 100g of the soil sample in an empty preserving jar and mix with 100ml of distilled water.
Tip: It is essential to take distilled water since ordinary tap water would significantly influence the measurement depending on the ingredients and calcium content.
Now the earth is well mixed with the water. This works best if you close the glass well and shake vigorously.
After a break of more than 10 minutes, the pH of the soil can be measured. For this purpose, a litmus or another pH test strip is immersed in the liquid.
The discoloration of the test strip gives the pH of the soil price. With very loamy soil and a bright color scale, reading is a bit difficult. But it is clear that the earth is far away from sour and is in the pH-neutral range 7. Not to be confused with the skin-neutral range of about 4.5 – 5.5. But the soil should also be in the slightly acidic range of 5.5 – 6.5, here too essential.