Acid soil is a problem that gardeners all over the US have to deal with. You can take a number of measures to decrease the level of acid in your soil by increasing its pH, but choosing acid-loving vegetables is a far easier and cheaper method. Fortunately, while strongly acidic soil is not ideal for many plants, most garden vegetables actually thrive in slightly acidic soil.
Soil & pH
The term "pH" refers to the acidity or alkalinity of soil. Soil with a pH below 7.0 is considered to be neutral. A lower pH means that your soil is acidic, while a higher pH indicates alkaline soil. If you are unsure of your soil's pH, get a soil test through your local University Extension Office; this test also tells you the levels of various nutrients in your soil.
Vegetables for Slightly Acidic Soil
Many of the most commonly grown garden vegetables prefer slightly acid soil with a pH between 5.5 and 7.0. These include beans, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, celery and cucumbers, as well as peppers, squash, sweetcorn, tomatoes and turnips.
Vegetables for Moderately to Strongly Acidic Soil
A pH between 5.5 and 6.5, which is moderately acidic, is ideal for endive, parsley, rhubarb and soybeans. Strongly acidic soil, with a pH of 4.5 to 5.5, is good for growing sweet potatoes and radishes. Irish potatoes grow well with a pH between 4.8 and 5.5.
If you have very acidic soil, you can raise its pH to make it more applicable to growing vegetables. The most common way to do this is to add lime to the soil. Lime is composed of calcium carbonate, which raises pH by neutralising acid. If you have alkaline soil and want to lower the pH, incorporate sulphur into the soil.
- Colorado State University; Acid-Loving Plants; 2000
- University of Illinois Extension; Soil Quality Indicators: pH; 1998
- Ohio State University; Soil Acidification: How to Lower Soil pH; Robert Mullen, et al.
- Texas A&M University; Success With Spring Vegetable Gardens; Keith C. Hansen, et al.
- Clemson Cooperative Extension; Soil Acidity and Liming (Overview); Charles C. Mitchell