Alkaline soil

Asked June 19, 2019, 9:37 PM EDT

I live in Catonsville and recently tried out the recommended la motte soil test kit. I have now done six soil tests in different parts of my yard, all of which I have heavily amended over the years with leaf grow and compost. I am shocked to discover that my soil is heavily alkaline, at least 8.0. I didn't think soils in this area were ever particularly alkaline. The soil is also suffering from very low nitrogen and potassium, but not phosphorous...in spite of spreading 5 yards of leaf gro in a relatively small yard this spring. I have now done a lot of reading about how to slowly make soils now acidic and some things to avoid like fresh wood mulch and chicken manure. The advice is not very encouraging. I don't want to raise all my beds! Also, I regularly provide organic liquid fertilizer using humic acid, rock dust, bone meal, worm castings, kelp, and a few other things. I could use some good advice here!

Montgomery County Maryland soil soil testing

1 Response

Hi- we recommend that you have your soil tested by a certified lab. Soil testing kits available to home gardeners are not as accurate as lab testing. The lab will also make specific recommendations for lowering soil pH (using elemental sulfur and iron sulphate) if indicated by the test results.

This page has all of the information you need to take a soil sample and select a lab:
https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/soil-testing

Yardwaste compost typically has a 7.0-7.3 pH and does not typically drive up soil pH levels. LeafGro and other composts are relatively low in nutrients. They improve soil structure and provide an array of slow release nutrients but the nutrients may not be sufficient for the plants you are growing, especially if the native soil has low nutrient levels.
Jon