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Make a bed for ACID-LOVING PLANTS

Some plants prefer an acidic soil, not always easy to create when your soil is alkaline. In such cases, why not make a raised bed especially for acid-loving plants? Joyce Russell shows you how

Not all soil is the same in all gardens.There are wide variations in structure, drainage, amount of organic material, and mineral content. Some soils are deep and fertile, others are shallow and poor. People talk about soil being sweetened by the addition of lime and ‘sour’ if at an acid extreme of the pH scale.

Each plant does best at a preferred pH: some love more acid soils and some more alkaline. If we can give each plant an ideal soil then they are likely to grow and crop well. We can do our best to build fertility and we can do what we can to get depth and good structure in the soil. We can even adjust an acid soil to make it more alkaline, but it can be hard to grow acid-loving plants in a garden that has alkaline soil.

The simplest solution to this problem is to grow in containers, or to make separate beds. Fill these with low pHmaterial and isolate the contents from alkaline influences.

MEASURE pH

This is the first step in understanding what sort of soil you have.There are simple testing kits and meters for sale that will give a reading that shows your soil on the pH scale from 1 to 14. A pH of 7 is considered neutral and readings below this get progressively more acidic: readings higher than 7 get progressively more alkaline.

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Kitchen Garden is Britain's best guide to growing your own. It offers advice from the finest minds in gardening to make sure you get the tastiest produce from your plot.