To lime, or not to lime? Most homeowners ponder this question.
1. What is dolomite lime?
Lime is an important alkaline source of calcium and magnesium for your lawn and garden, mainly composed of ground limestone. Dolomite is most often used limestone as it contains equal parts of magnesium and calcium. Applying lime increases the soil’s pH and decreases acidity.
Most vegetables grow best in slightly acidic soil, with a pH between 6 and 7. However in rainy climates, precipitation leaches alkaline elements from the soil, lowering pH level. Acidic elements remain, resulting in increasingly acidic soil. Sandy soils are affected by this process more than clay and loam soils with high organic matter, which are more resistant. By neutralizing acidic soil, plants can more easily absorb nutrients from the soil. Lime also improves soil texture and helps convert other soil nutrients into usable forms. Vegetables such as peas, beans, corn, cabbage, lettuce, spinach, and other greens benefit from recently limed soil.
2. The importance of lime in a garden maintenance program.
Garden soil is either acidic, neutral, or alkaline. On the pH scale, which ranges from 0-14, 7 is neutral, below 7 is acidic, and above 7 is alkaline. Many gardeners know that productivity of the vegetable garden decreases as the pH falls below 6. In areas where soil acidification is an issue, routine liming applications helps to maintain a balanced pH level.
3. How to determine if liming is needed.
The only way to know the pH level of your garden soil is to test it. Use a digital soil pH meter – sold online or at our store–to test several areas of the garden to get an overall scope of the soil condition. Apply lime as needed, based on the soil test results.
4. How to apply lime to the garden and lawn.
The exact amount of lime required depends on the pH of the soil. Follow packet instructions for application rates. To lime your garden, sprinkle the lime evenly over a dry, rather than wet, garden plot. Rake the lime into the soil, mixing it in as deeply as possible. By spring, the soil will be ready for growing vegetables.