Local climate gives you a clue to the likely soil pH. In high-rainfall areas, soils are often acid. It's in these regions that you tend to find acid-loving plants like azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias, and blueberries. Alkaline soils, in contrast, are typically found in low-rainfall areas. Many of the plants popular for waterwise gardens--sorts that need little water once they are established--do well in soil on the alkaline side. The olive, native to the Mediterranean basin, is one example of a plant that thrives in alkaline soil; oleander (Nerium oleander) and pomegranate also perform well.
If you're not sure about your soil's pH, you can test it yourself with one of the inexpensive test kits sold at most garden centers. Such kits can be relied on to tell you whether your soil is basically alkaline, acid, or neutral. If you suspect that your soil is highly alkaline or acid--or if a do-it-yourself kit so indicates--you may want to confirm the diagnosis with a professional soil test. Such tests are analyzed by laboratories; along with the results, you'll normally receive recommendations for correcting the pH of the soil tested.
Lime, available in either ground or powdered form, is often suggested to raise pH. Ground limestone is the slightly less potent of the two and raises pH more slowly. The amount needed depends on the soil texture (more is needed for clay than for sandy soil, for example) and other factors. Wood ashes and oyster shell also make acid soil more neutral.
To lower pH, common sulfur is the least expensive choice, though ferrous sulfate and aluminum sulfate are sometimes recommended instead. Ferrous sulfate, which also adds iron to the soil, is of the most help to plants that show yellow leaves as well as overall poor health. You'll also lower the pH of alkaline soil over time by regularly applying organic amendments such as compost and manure.
To determine how much lime or sulfur to add, follow the advice included with your test results. If your soil is extremely acidic or alkaline and you need to change the level by more than one point on the pH scale, it's best to bring in a professional: he or she can both analyze test results and perform an on-site evaluation to determine whether the soil can be amended successfully and how best to go about it.
If amending the soil just isn't feasible, plant in raised beds filled with problem-free, well-amended topsoil; or choose native plants that thrive in the unamended soil.
|Professional Soil Tester Three Way Meter|
Popular examples of acidic foods are blueberries, prunes, cranberries, white bread, prunes, pasta, wheat, pork, beef, shellfish, ice cream, peanuts, beer, alcohol, string beans, kidney beans, walnuts, plums, store-bought juices, rye bread, brown rice, organ meats, eggs, cold water fish, pumpkin, eggs, sesame seeds, corn oil, sunflower seeds, fatty dairy products, honey, margarine, lima beans, skinless potatoes, navy beans, pinto beans, canned fruits, oats, white rice, cashews, coffee, pistachios, wine, turkey, chicken, lamb and majority of condiments.
There are many health conscious folks that believe that an alkaline rich diet is better than its acidic counterpart. Having such will prevent too much acid from accumulating in the bloodstream as well as reduce the risk of degenerative disorders such as osteoporosis, heart disease and cancers to name a few.
1. Basically, majority of fruits, grains and vegetables are alkaline foods while meat products are usually acidic in nature.
2. Because the body is slightly alkaline in nature, you must make sure to eat enough alkaline-rich foods because it is a lot healthier compared to eating too much acidic foods.
|Masanobu Fukuoka taking care of rice fields|
Up in the mountains, he developed a method (or rather a non-method) that flies in the face of modern farming. “I ultimately reached the conclusion that there was no need to plow, no need to apply fertiliser, no need to make compost, no need to use insecticide” he wrote. “When you get right down to it, there are few agricultural practices that are really necessary.”
This conclusion required a good deal of trial and error, and lots of dead plants along the way. The One Straw Revolution tells his story, from his start as an idealistic young man to a troublesome visionary with a constant string of visiting experts, researchers, and travelling hippies wishing to learn his secrets.
Those secrets include such imaginative ideas as planting one crop before the other is harvested, so
|Bestseller Book The One Straw Revolution|
But, you don’t really read The One Straw Revolution for gardening tips. For one thing, it’s only directly relevant to Japan. More importantly, the book is as much a work of philosophy as it is a life story or an explanation of natural agriculture. Fukuoka believed that we don’t really know anything about how nature works, and that much of modern farming was setting itself up for failure. He rails against growing out of season vegetables that are a “watery concoction of nitrogen, phosphorus and potash, with a little help from the seed”, and Japan’s growing taste for meat. He predicted that if the Japanese diet continued to change the way it was, there would be a food crisis in thirty years time. In that he was not uncorrect – Japan is the world’s biggest food importer, and has led the charge in land-leasing deals in Africa.
“If we do have a food crisis it will not be caused by the insufficiency of nature’s productive power, but by the extravagance of human desire”, he wrote, advocating a simpler lifestyle closer to nature. His simple living code extends to work too. “I do not particularly like the word ‘work'” he writes in my favourite little passage. “Human beings are the only animals who have to work, and I think this is the most ridiculous thing in the world. Other animals make their living by living.”
Fukuoka is an amiable and ingenious writer, and The One Straw Revolution is full of passion for the earth and its generosity, and bemused irreverence towards false ideas of progress. You won’t agree with everything he says, perhaps his views on education and health in particular, but this is nevertheless an unusually wise and refreshing read.