The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with the lower levels being acidic and the higher levels being alkaline. Most garden plants and grasses grow the best at pH levels in the 6.0 to 6.5 range. The only problem is that most soils in our area are naturally acidic. This can easily be corrected with an application of the appropriate amount of agricultural lime.
There are a few things you should keep in mind when applying lime. First of all, you can get too much of a good thing. It is always best to have your soil tested to determine if you need lime and how much you need to use. In most cases, a lime application will keep the soil pH in the correct range for several years so you do not need to apply it every year. Applying too much lime will lead to high pH levels and can cause just as many problems as low pH levels. Secondly, lime does not change the pH level overnight. Normally, it takes three to six months for lime to change the soil pH. And lastly, although most plants thrive in 6.0 to 6.5 pH levels, some prefer more acidic soils, while others do best in more alkaline soils. Before applying lime, know the pH levels that your plants will perform the best at.
For more details about applying lime or soil testing, contact the Walker County Extension Office at 706-638-2548.
Norman Edwards is coordinator of Walker County Extension Service.