28 October 29, 2008

There is a misconception that you should only apply lime to your lawn and gardens in the spring. Hey, for that matter, way too many people either don’t know about applying enough lime and in some instances, people don’t even know that they should apply lime to their lawns and gardens. Let’s talk about Lime 101. There will be a test later and it will affect your grade. Your lawn and gardens too.

Soils in New England are considered soils that have a low Ph. Low Ph is a measure of  the amount of acidity in your soil. When your soil is acidic, it makes it hard for plants to take up nutrients in the soil. You can be applying fertilizer to your lawn and gardens and your lawn and gardens may not be able to use all of the fertilizer that you have applied to the soil. Hopefully, you know that plants need a steady supply of fertilizer to grow. If you have a lawn that does not grow well, or if your perennial flowers or your vegetable garden does not give you the yield that you want, the problem may very well be that your soil is too acidic. The way that you get the acidity out of the soil is by applying lime to the soil.

You may wonder how the acidity gets into your soil. One source is acid rain. When it rains, the acidity in the rain settles into your soil. You can also get acidity in your soil from the use of fertilizers. The natural breakdown of soils in New England can also create acid soil.

The best way to know the Ph of your soil is to test the soil with, are you ready for this, a Ph soil test kit. This may very well be the best investment you make in this crazy economic time. You can buy a Ph soil test kit for around $ 2.00. The kit will allow you to test the soil and determine the Ph of the soil. Once you have done your Ph test, you will know how acidic your soil is. Your lawn wants to have a Ph of about 6.5. If you test your soil and the Ph is 5.5, you will need to bring the Ph up 1 point. To do this, you will apply 2 bags of lime per 1, 000 square feet of lawn . If your lawn is 10, 000 square feet, you would apply 20 bags of lime to your lawn. Even if you are trying to maintain a steady 6.5 Ph, you will likely need to apply 1 bag of lime per 1, 000 square feet. I would be willing to bet that most of you never apply enough lime to your lawn. Your lawn may have trapped fertilizer that the grass cannot use due to acid soil. I can tell you now that lawn fertilizer prices are predicted to rise from 20 to 40% next spring. By applying the correct amount of lime to your lawn this fall, you will be able to use less fertilizer next year and for years to come. By applying lime to your lawn, your grass will be greener, and your lawn will grow fast enough to force out many of the weeds that grow in your lawn.

If you have lilac trees in your yard, you should apply lime around the trees each year. Lilacs do not like an acid soil and respond to acid soil by producing fewer flowers. Ditto for rose bushes. Many of your perennials and almost all of your vegetable plants do not like an acid soil.

Lime does take some time to work in the soil. If you apply lime this fall, you should have a change in Ph by spring. By having the Ph changed by spring means that your lawn will be off to a faster start and many of the weeds in your lawn can be choked out by a rapidly growing lawn. A vegetable garden that starts off the season with a correct Ph will mean that you get many more fresh vegetables next summer.
A little bit of lime can save you money!

Take some time this weekend and do a Ph test on your soil. Once you have your test results, apply enough lime to the soil to correct the Ph. Come the spring, you will have a better growing lawn and gardens.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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