When to Apply Lime to Vegetable Garden?
Adding lime to your vegetable garden is as compulsory as weeding it. This is because the vegetables and other plants in the garden might not get to their full potential. As a result, it might be pretty difficult for them to access the nutrients from the soil, including the ones from fertilizers.
If you, however, understand the impact of lime on a vegetable garden and the best time to apply it, you can maximize yield in your garden. Before answering the question: when is the best time to apply lime to your garden? It is a good idea to understand some concepts.
Why do you need Lime?
Containing calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate, lime is a soil treatment made from ground limestone rock. On adding lime to the soil, these compounds migrate to the earth and boost the pH level. The aim of this is to balance the pH level of the ground. The magnesium and calcium component of lime will result in bountiful yields. This, however, does not make it a substitute for fertilizer.
The primary assignment of lime in the soil is to change the pH and bring it towards the neutral point. The effect of this is to make it easy for soil nutrients to get to the plant quickly. When the pH level of the soil tends towards alkalinity, it reduces the availability of nutrients to the earth. Even though the pH level of soil necessary for plant growth differs, plants mainly prefer a pH level between 5.8 and 7.2.
If the soil can be within this pH range, the plants will get the nutrients it needs. It will also be able to absorb the required fertilizer from plants. Should the soil pH level be further away from the given range, the plants will not absorb the needed range.
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Tips to Keep in Mind When Applying Lime
The right soil pH is critical for bountiful crop provision. Most beginners often wonder when is the best time to apply lime. While we will answer this question in some sections below, we have these tips that can guide you when using lime.
Lime at Interval: It is essential to lime regularly to prevent the soil pH from getting critically low. The timing will, however, depend on the condition of the soil as determined by the soil pH. Some people only need to lime every 3 to 4 years for their soil to be at optimum capacity.
Plan Ahead: Correction of the soil pH is not a magic process. Even the best quality lime needs some time to react and take effect. Keep in mind that it takes about six months before you get the desired pH level. This is crucial if you are dealing with soil with a pretty low pH level.
Take note of the Soil Condition: The best soil for limestone application is dry soil. You can also apply limestone to the frozen ground to reduce compaction. This shouldn’t be a problem, so long the limestone will not be washed off by rain or snow
When to Apply Limestone to vegetable Gardens
Applying lime to your vegetable garden will help you immensely. You, however, need to add lime at the correct time in the right quantity. In adding lime to your vegetable garden, we recommend two periods in the year. Your period of application should be well suited for your garden condition.
Lime application in the Fall
We revealed earlier that your soil needs enough time to absorb calcium and magnesium from the lime. This reason is why a number of people feel the best time for lime application on your garden soil is at the end of the fall cultivation period.
They chose this time so that the soil will have enough time to absorb the lime and adjust the pH of the earth. This could take several weeks to months as well. It is also a factor of the present soil pH level and the type of soil. This is why you need to apply lime after your last harvest.
Lime Application in the Spring
In addition to lime application in the Fall, you can also apply lime in the spring. Of course, you will need to do this many weeks before the planting season. This is to allow the lime enough time for the nutrients to get into the soil.
How to Tell If Your Garden Needs Lime
There are many tips you will come across when preparing your garden for the next planting season. The advice and all could be overwhelming for newbie especially. However, the goal of every gardener is to have a bountiful harvest of vegetables and fruits. This is where the lime application comes in.
The lime application helps restore the potential hydrogen structure of your garden soil. This is a treatment done to improve the health of your garden. The calcium component of the lime helps bring the soil to a pretty reasonable level.
Your garden soil, due to constant use, might become acidic. This acidity might also be pretty natural, which will affect the healthy development of your crops and vegetables. Soil acidity is pretty common in places with heavy rainfall. This is because constant rain washes away nutrients, which might be difficult for the soil to restore. With the lime application, your land can recover the lost nutrients, repair any damage, and get a balanced pH level.
But there is the question: how to know if your lawn needs lime.
Signs Your Garden needs a Lime application.
If you have attempted all sorts of fertilizers, conditioners, or weed killers, without any significant improvement in your garden, the pH level might be the culprit. The pH level might be unbalanced hence the need to fix it by adding lime. Here are some telltale signs that your vegetable garden needs lime application:
- Your garden is on a sandy or clay soil. These types of soil are naturally acidic.
- Abundant of weed or moss in your yard
- You have constant and abundant rainfall, acid rain, particularly.
- The leaves are turning yellow.
- There is a recent drought on your land, and recovering is proving difficult for your garden.
- A measure of your soil pH is pretty low, lower than 6.2
All the above are indications that your garden soil is unhealthy and could need a lime application. The definite test to confirm this, however, is by testing to confirm the pH level of the garden. We will explore a DIY garden soil pH test you can try right from home.
Test to Confirm the Soil pH Level
For your plants and vegetables to be healthy, they need soil with the right nutrient. The measurement of the acidity or alkalinity of a compound is the pH level. It is pretty essential as it determines if your plants and vegetables will thrive. Also, it determines if they will absorb the needed nutrient they need to flourish from the soil.
Pretty acidic soil will not help crop and vegetable germination. Besides, it might even kill off your plants. In measuring the pH level, there is a standard scale of 0 to 14. Lower reading (0 to 6) is acidic, with 0 being most acidic while higher reading (8 to 14) is basic, with 14 being the most basic. For your vegetable garden to thrive, the soil should be around the middle.
There are many ways you can detect the pH level of your soil. You can choose to send some samples to a lab or buy a soil pH meter. With some homemade materials, however, you can successfully measure the pH level of your soil.
Materials you Need
- Measuring cup
- Baking soda
- Two cups
Method of conducting the pH test
- In one of the containers, preferably a cup, collect a sample of soil and divide this into two containers.
- Into one of the containers, pour a half cup of vinegar into the soil. You have a pretty basic soil if it sizzles (making a hissing sound)
- In case the soil does not sizzle, move to the second container. Add two tablespoons of water till it forms a paste. Now add a half cup of baking soda in this container. Again, if it sizzles, you have pretty acidic soil.
- If, however, you do not have a visible reaction to either the vinegar or the baking soda, you have neutral soil, which is what you want!
If you want a bountiful harvest from your vegetable garden, you need the right pH level. The correct pH level will determine how well your crops and other plants will survive. We have explored the importance of lime application and factors to keep in mind before applying lime.
Also, bear in mind that lime application does not work like magic. You need to give your garden soil enough time for the effect of the lime to kick in.