We are assuming that you, sir, are a gardener. You know a lot about gardens, and you know how to grow beautiful flowers. However, do you know that you need the best soil pH tester to make sure that your garden stays as beautiful as it already is?
Anybody who has taken high school chemistry knows what pH is. Basically, it is a measure of how acidic or basic water is. The scale goes on from 0 to 14, where a pH of 7 is considered to be neutral. That is why we say that water has a pH of 7, which implies that water is neither acidic nor basic. Any substance with a pH of less than 7 is considered to be acidic, and any substance with a pH higher than 7 is considered to be basic.
Okay, we all get it. But what does it have to do with gardening?
When it comes to gardening, the pH of the soil is very important. The pH level of the soil influences the way grass and plants absorb various nutrients from the soil. Hence, testing the pH level regularly is a precondition of having a lively and healthy lawn. But why exactly should we test the pH level? Let’s answer that question first.
Why do we need a pH tester?
We’ve already said that the pH level of the soil influences the way plants absorb various nutrients. But how does it do it? Basically, the acidity or the alkalinity of the soil is determined by various elements available in the ground. For example, if there is a large amount of calcium available in the soil, the soil is going to be basic.
On the other hand, if there is a lot of phosphorus available in the soil, it will be acidic. A plant needs both of these types of nutrients to grow properly. Hence, it is important to maintain the soil’s pH level at around 3 to 9. In other words, the soil cannot be too acidic or too alkaline. This is the primary reason why you need a pH tester- you are supposed to check the soil pH regularly and take adequate measures to prevent any major changes.
Types of pH tester
There are three methods of testing the pH of the soil. You can use an electronic pH tester, you can use pH strips, or you can use colored dyes. However, pH strips and colored dyes never give you an accurate measure, hence you are sure to be in a dilemma about whether the pH level of your garden is okay. Hence, forget those inaccurate measures and get a good electronic tester. For your convenience, we are reviewing three of the very best testers here. Read on, and find the most suitable tester that you will need.
Some best soil pH tester reviews
Luster Leaf 1601 Rapitest Soil Test Kit
Luster Leaf 1601 Rapitest Soil Test Kit Maybe you do not need a very accurate number to describe the condition of your garden. Maybe you just need a general idea about what is really going on in the soil. In that case, the luster leaf soil test kit can be a very good choice.
The kit comes with four vials- one for testing the pH of your soil, and the other three for testing Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium level respectively. You mix the soil with a directed amount of water and pour the mixture into each vial.
Now, empty the contents of corresponding colored capsules into each vial. Place the rubber cap on the vials, shake it well, and finally let it sit for a while, and you’re all done. Now all you have to do is assess the color of the mixtures to determine the condition of the chemical levels in your soil. True, there are many products in the market that yield far better and accurate results than this one.
But those products are expensive as well. The 1601 Rapitest Soil Test Kit will do a marvelous job for home gardeners because it tells you when something seriously wrong with your garden. Anything more than that is often unnecessary. All in all, the Luster Leaf Rapitest Kit is your solution if you are not that much of a perfectionist. Although it can be a little less accurate, it is nonetheless very good.
Rittenhouse Soil pH Meter
Rittenhouse Soil pH Meter Rittenhouse is renowned for its professional-grade gardening equipment, and its pH meter is no major exception. This meter comes with all the traits of a perfect pH meter- easy to use, handheld size, no chemical required, no batteries required.
Without a doubt, this specific product will help you take very good care of your lawn. To measure the pH level accurately with the Rittenhouse soil pH meter, you need to dig a hole that is around 5 inches deep and 3 to 4 inches wide. Fill the hole with water. Once the water is drained, insert the soil pH meter, and you are done.
Within a few minutes, you will be able to assess the condition of the garden. That is simply how easy it is to use the Rittenhouse meter. You will not need to go through any extra hassle, you don’t need a lot of time, and the product will last for years.
To summarize, the Rittenhouse meter just might be your solution to all your pH-measuring-related problems.
Using the soil pH tester
Using the pH tester to test the pH of your soil is not a daunting task. Some meters can be directly used in the soil. In that case, insert the pH meter’s probe into the soil. But some other testers cannot be used in the soil directly. In that case, take a bit of soil from the roots around your plants (ditch the top layer) and make a solution. Once the solution is made, you can measure the pH with a very high accuracy rate.
Advantages and disadvantages of using a pH tester
- Accuracy: pH meters are highly accurate. So it is always better to use pH meters rather than vague and difficult to read pH test strips.
- Easy to use: pH meters are usually far easier to use than other pH testing methods.
- Calibration control: If a pH meter is not calibrated correctly, then it can affect the accuracy of the readings in a harmful way. Fortunately, most pH meters come with calibration controls that help you calibrate the pH meter on a regular basis in order to ensure maximum accuracy.
- Portable: Another advantage of the pH meters is that they are portable, hence can be easily carried from one place to another. That way, it saves more time and energy.
- One of the downsides of using pH testers is that the readings can be affected by temperature. So make sure not to keep the meters in extremely hot or extremely cold places.
- Now we come down to the second disadvantage of the pH meters. These pH meters are more expensive than other methods like pH test strips and colored dyes. To some people that might be an issue.
- All pH meters need to be calibrated on a regular basis.
- You need to clean the metal probe after every use. Otherwise, it might get rusty.
How to buy
The smartest way to buy a pH meter is by testing it out. pH meters are available everywhere – you can look at your gardening material supplier or the nearest laboratory apparatus supplier. Make sure to do your research beforehand, and gather as much information as possible. Also, decide which type of pH meter you need and whether you really want to pay the price they are asking for. If not, look for a cheaper alternative.
The pH meter is a very sensitive instrument and as such, a proper level of precautionary measures must be taken when dealing with these instruments. But with proper care, they can be useful for a long time. So here’s how you should take care of your pH meter:
- Make sure the probe is never dry. There are special solutions that can be purchased in the market, and these solutions’ sole purpose is to take care of the electrode of your pH meter. Make sure the probe is entirely submerged in liquid.
- Clean the pH meter regularly. This is crucial for the longevity of the product.
- Calibrate it according to a predetermined schedule. That way your readings will always be flawless.
- Even though with proper care a pH meter can last a long time, it are not going to last forever. So check if the electrodes need replacing every once in a while.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can a pH meter be used to test the pH of canned food?
Ans: as long as the food is in a solution. But testing the pH of the food might not be possible.
- Does the Poit pH-02 have a button to freeze the reading?
Ans: No. You do not need one.
- How can I calibrate my pH meter?
Ans: There is a pH meter calibration liquid powder kit available in the market. The instruction will come with it.
- What is the source of power?
Ans: The products function on batteries. These batteries are built-in.
- Can I leave the meter in the soil?
Ans: No, it is better not to. The probe will get rusty.
- How frequently do I have to calibrate the meter?
Ans: After every use.
- Can I test the pH of lotions and such cosmetics with this?
Ans: Probably not. These substances are too complicated.
- Is it normal to see salt on the electrode?
Ans: Yes, it is perfectly normal.
- Can I replace the batteries?
Ans: Yes, it is possible.
- Can these devices read the temperature as well?
Ans: Unfortunately, no. That is an option that has not been incorporated within these devices.
To sum up, you need a good pH tester to keep your garden/lawn as beautiful as it is. It is even better if you get the best soil pH tester. Because, since you’re spending money on it, it is better to get the best one, don’t you think? So instead of relying on this single article, we recommend you to do your own research, then decide on exactly which product you would like to buy.
Consider your budget, determine whether you need a professional grade tester or a simple home tester would do as fine. After you are absolutely sure, go out, test the pH meter out and buy it. It’s pretty simple, isn’t it?
We hope you find the perfect partner for your garden (or lawn).