Soil Ph meter and how I use it for TLO organic soil growing
I wanted to put together my experience and my current understanding of using a soil Ph meter successfully and accurately when testing the soil for Ph.
I have come to the conclusion that when growing in a living soil and only using natural nutrients and not using any “artificial” nutrients that contain salts or use acids to chelate the nutrient so that it’s immediately available for the plant to use (feeding the plant instead of the critters like in a living soil) that I don’t need to use a liquid Ph meter to measure the run off nor the input of water or solutions such as tea as this isn’t what the TLO (True Living Organics) growing method is concerned with as long as the Ph of the water is within a reasonable range of 5.5 to 8.0 or so. Assuming that before you plant into the soil you have checked the soils Ph and it is in the proper range after you have cooked it (allowed the composting process to cook it like the lime and other ingredients that need to be broken down by…well by more little critters so that it’s safe and ready to use for planting.
If you do force feed the plants than this isn’t for you.
Things that effect the soil Ph meter are how saturated the soil is at a given depth, if the meters Probe or probes have been taken care of properly, how you insert the probe into the soil and time waiting for the reading to stabilize. I will be using my TDS (total dissolved salts…lol) meter to measure my teas, my source water and any other solutions EC/PPM readings that I will feed the critters in the soil so that is properly diluted before feeding.
The liquid Ph meters may be necessary for those growing using chemical nutrients but I don’t see myself using one much anymore as I’ve also changed from using my tap water due to it being ~500EC with fluoride which is really hard on all living things and calcium/magnesium which plants like and use but need to be in a proper ratio of around 5:1 and I have no control over what the city decides to mix proportionally and send to me so rather than use tap I purchased a nice portable tabletop Reverse Osmosis system to use for all water related needs of growing. Watering, teas, solutions, foliar or humidifier this way I am in control of the input to the soil when feeding it. The living critters in the soil will sort all the Ph stuff out and will feed the plant when the plants asks for a particular nutrient and the critters are fed by the plant as well (Mychorrizae) as so on. Avatar on earth. Symbiotic relationships.
So back to using a soil Ph meter as I currently understand things anyway. Always learning things as I go and grow so like life it is subject to change.
These are my collection of meters.
The one on the far right is my new meter and has a 12” long probe and an easy to read dial as well as being able to measure Ph of the soil has a moisture function as well.
I’m finding the advantages of using this new one over my older meters is that it is solidly built, plenty long to get in between branches to get to the soil and able to measure various depths into the soil all the way down to 12” if needed weather in a container, raised bed or garden. It also serves as an aeration device and if needed before filling the hole after removal a way to get some nutrients or Mycho powder down into the root area etc.
The second meter Sonkir also has a decent build and ok depth for a $12 meter anyway.
I’ve tested this one along with the new Wizard meter and they are both within .1 or so in readings using the same area of soil and the same depth and moisture.
The shortest soil meter Rapitest I really don’t use anymore as the probes are way to short for measuring past 3” or so and I found it not to be very accurate in the soil but requires making a slurry with the soil and that entails digging down into the soil and then taking up some and mixing it with water to test and that’s just a pain compared to using the other 2. Of course I might not be using it correctly and may work just fine for someone else lol.
Of course the last 2 are the liquid Ph meter and the TDS meter.
The following pics were taken using the Wizard Soil meter (that big sucker) after my soil was fed 2 days ago using an aerated compost tea recipe that when finished brewing was at a Ph of around 7.2 and I used RO water to brew and to dilute it to about an EC of 400 before feeding the soil.
If the soil is too wet (saturated) like right after watering or too dry like right before watering a soil Ph meter will not give you an accurate reading as it needs the moisture in a proper range to read the conductivity of the soil.
I tested it 1 day after I watered and felt the readings weren’t accurate but after thinking about it the Ph of the soil is dynamic and changes as the system sees fit. I call it self regulating just like everyone’s blood pressure …it self regulates based on individual circumstances such as stress, restricted arteries toxic blood ie thicker fluid or a week pumper.
A TLO soil is alive and all the critters as long as it’s a balanced population of them will self regulate things.
Here are the readings I took 2 days after feeding.
All of the pictures (3 per plant and 3 plants) were taken after waiting between 5 and 10 minutes to allow the meter to stabilize and they were at 3 inches 6 inches and 9 inch depths. Any deeper and I hit bottom. The trend I see with my soil is the lower I go the lower the Ph is. Could be my particular mix or this could be somewhat normal I’m not sure yet as I’m still learning.
This is reading of a bag of Kind soil right from the bag
This is after I sprayed down the soil to get it wet enough like a quick watering.
This is the $12 sonkir meter which is .1 off of the $65 wizard meter.
The hole after removing the probe where you can backfill it with just surrounding soil or use an amendment that is slow release or some Mycorrhizae or worm poop etc
When your done using the soil tester you want to wipe off the soil using a soft cloth or paper towel etc and after that use the green scrub pad to lightly “polish” the probe before putting it away and when you need to use it next time give it another light polish with the green scrub pad. The wizard came with a piece of it.
I’ll be testing some other bagged soils such as Whitney farms organic potting mix and their raised bed mix and some composted bagged cow Manure/mulch mix and FF coco loco and ocean forest.
Anyway this is what I am finding out while growing using the TLO method.
As far as flushing my plants this isn’t necessary either unless I used some unnatural nutrients with salts or my hard tap water which will accumulate salts over time as well. The only time I think I will need to flush if there is a dramatic issue that the critters can’t regulate and that usually happens by using unnatural nutrients which kills the critters in the soil.
This is all subject to change without notice but this is my current take on using Soil Ph meters successfully while growing organic TLO style.
Thanks for reading and HAGD