When you go to plant your flowers and vegetables, how much do you think about the soil they will live in? Not all soil is created equal and some can be acidic. While this certainly sounds like a bad thing, some plants actually thrive in acidic soil.
What plants like acidic soil: Within your soil is a mixture of nutrients such as phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium. However, some soil will have more or less of this. If you’re worried that you can’t grow anything because your soil lacks some of these nutrients, and is, therefore, more acidic, there are actually plenty of vegetables that will grow well. These include garden staples such as onions, squash, and beans. You can also try your hand at growing potatoes, rhubarb, and parsley. It’s always best to start by testing your soil and then adjust as need be to hit that desired range of acidity.
What is acidic soil?
Now, you may be wondering just what is acidic soil. If you think back to high school chemistry class, you may remember that there is a pH scale and different numbers mean different things.
If something scores between 1.0 and 7.0, then it is acidic. This is true of many substances, including soil.
Normally, you want soil that is right in the middle of the scale, around 6.0 to 8.0. However, some plants are quite happy with a lower, more acidic atmosphere.
Essentially, acidic soil means there aren’t as many key nutrients, such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium. You can then either try to add these to your soil or just decide to grow plants that are happy in this environment.
How to test for acidic soil?
Now that you know what acidic soil is, it’s time to figure out if you have it. To do so, you just need to perform a simple test.
Simply head to your local nursery or go online and purchase a soil pH testing kit. They are not too expensive and easy to follow.
What plants really LIKE acidic soil?
Even though potatoes are fairly adaptable and will grow in most soil conditions, they are the happiest when they are in acidic soil. These are a great winter plant and will keep you full once the weather turns cold.
Potatoes prefer soil levels between 4.8 and 5.5. They might take a while to grow but you’ll be happy once harvest season rolls around.
Another versatile garden staple, onions can be planted in the fall for a fresh spring harvest. They are also easy to store and will last quite a while after you remove them from the ground.
Onions are good in soil that is around the 5.5 pH level. This makes them an easy crop to grow.
There’s a certain satisfaction of snapping a crisp bean off the vine. This summer crop is a staple in most gardens and is fairly easy to grow.
You should aim for a pH level between 5.5 and 7.0 for beans, which means they only like a bit of acid in their soil.
A nice, cool-weather crop, broccoli is often forgotten in backyard gardens but should be no longer. You can harvest it just as the weather starts to cool off, around the end of summer or early fall.
Broccoli prefers soil that is slightly acidic, in the range of 5.5 to 7.0. If you aren’t quite at that level, you may need to add extra nutrients and re-test your soil.
Although rhubarb can be a bit sour for some people’s tastes, if you add enough sugar to it, it becomes quite a yummy dessert. You can easily make jam out of it, or even puree it and add it to your ice cream for a summer treat.
Rhubarb prefers soil that is between 5.5 and 6.5 on the pH scale. One really nice feature is that rhubarb is a perennial, which means it will grow back year after year.
While they don’t grow that well in more northern climates, warmer southern climates can produce some great sweet potatoes. They are highly nutritious and taste great, too.
Sweet potatoes prefer more acidic soil, in the range of 4.5 to 5.5. They have a long growing season and are ready in late summer or early fall.
Perhaps slightly underrated, radishes make for an excellent addition to a salad or you can simply pop them in your mouth for a crunchy treat. They don’t take long to grow and are great for beginner gardeners.
Radishes prefer soil in the 4.5 to 5.5 pH range, which makes them one of the more tolerant crops of acidity. They are a must-have if your soil is very acidic.
If you have a long, hot summer, then peppers should be a must in your garden. While they don’t like chilly weather, they are great for more southern climates.
Peppers like soil that is between 5.5 and 6.5 on the pH scale. They need soil that drains well and exposure to full sun.
A somewhat forgotten herb, parsley has many purposes besides being an outdated garnish. You can easily flavor soups and meat dishes with parsley.
Parsley likes soil that is mildly acidic, in the range of 5.5 to 6.5. You can either plant transplants or direct sow the seeds into the ground.
There are many types of squash you can choose and it’s always a fun treat to see their vines snake around your garden. Whether you want butternut squash for soup or pumpkins for Halloween, these brightly-colored, large vegetables are perfect.
Squash likes soil that is acidic, in the range of 5.5 to 7.0. Just make sure you have a long, warm summer as many varieties take more than a hundred days to be ready for harvest.
Even if you have acidic soil, there are still plenty of vegetables you can grow with ease. Start by testing your soil so you know where it lies on the pH scale and then match your vegetable to the elements.