Get your soil tested for free!
By: Steve Ott
RHS offers free pH testing to gardeners during September and October
For gardeners planning to carry out planting this autumn, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is offering free pH testing to determine whether their soil is acid or alkaline. All that gardeners have to do is to take five representative soil samples, 6 inches deep from around their garden, mix them and bring a two-cupful sample of this mix to any of the four RHS Plant Centres.
The soil-diagnostic service is being run in conjunction with the charity's ‘Autumn Planting for Year Round Colour' campaign. The RHS wants to promote planting in autumn when the soil is still warm. This gives plants the head start they need to get established in time for spring when growth is at its peak. Once established, a plant's root systems can cope with summer's dry, warm conditions and they are less likely to fail.
"Every five or so years or when designing and planting your garden, you need to know whether the soil is acid or alkaline, as different plants thrive in different soils," says Guy Barter, RHS Chief Horticultural Advisor. "Soil pH is a number that describes how acid or alkaline your soil is. Once you know the pH it is cheap and easy, if necessary, to use lime to reduce acidity. However heathers, camellias and other ericaceous plants need acid soil. Wet summers can increase soil acidity, so this year checking pH is especially worthwhile. It is also important to check soil pH before making vegetable plots, planting fruit, when growth is disappointing, or where yellowing of foliage occurs."
On 2 October RHS Garden Wisley is also joining forces with the Horticultural Trades Association to plant thousands of pansies and violas, demonstrating how to get colour in your garden now and benefit from an even better display next spring.
To find out more about autumn planting visit www.rhs.org.uk/autumnplanting
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