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How to Lower Soil pH with Vinegar?

Soil pH. You can lower Soil pH with Vinegar. Soil and Environment play a crucial role in the growth and development of a plant. It is only through the soil, that the plants get their nutrients.

Alkaline soils lack some nutrients like Manganese, boron, phosphorus, etc. Plants that thrive well in acidic soil like rose, blueberries, etc. may have limited, problematic growth in alkaline soil.

So we might what to change the nature of the soil to suit our plants. One common household item used to make the soil acidic is Vinegar.

What is Vinegar?

Vinegar is varying concentrations of acetic acid, mixed with water. It is formed as the end-result of a chemical reaction between sugar and yeast.

Alcohol and carbon dioxide are released by this reaction. Alcohol further reacts with oxygen and bacteria in the air to form acetic acid and water. This is the organic method. You can create Acetic acid by a chemical process involving methanol.

How to lower Soil pH?

  1. First, take a soil test to determine your soil pH. The values vary across various zones and depths in your garden. But it can give you a rough idea of what needs to be done.
  2. Based on how much you want to lower the soil pH, decide on vinegar. Household vinegar or plain or distilled white vinegar has about 5% acetic acid. It is safe and harmless to use. Horticultural vinegar is a solution with higher concentrations. It has about 20% acetic acid. One should excise caution if you decide to use it for a quick fix.
  3. Plain vinegar has a pH of about 2.7. Adding water does not alter their acidity. But your water has a pH that varies across regions. In most tap water, well water is alkaline. Test the pH of your water with a pH tester to determine the hardness.
  4. Then, add vinegar to water (Not the other way round). Ideally, you can add 2 to 9 tbsp of vinegar to one gallon of water. Test the water using the pH tester after adding the vinegar. If the desired value is reached, stop adding vinegar. Note down how much vinegar was added.
  5. You can put this diluted mixture into the soil using a watering can or hose. You can inject it into the irrigation system. Based on your garden size, the amount of solution required to alter the soil pH changes.
  6. Do not add the vinegar to the water in your reservoir. If the vinegar is unpasteurized or contains alcohol or sugar residue, it can react to form more vinegar – Mother of Vinegar. The reservoir might become laden with scum-like vinegar.
  7. Continue watering your soil with vinegar at regular intervals. Test your soil pH frequently. Bacterial action can degrade the strength of acetic acid over time. Hence this will only be a temporary fix unless repeated.

Soil pH – Uses and Limits

In addition to lowering the soil pH, vinegar also acts as a herbicide on plants. It deters the growth of weeds in the soil. Acetic acid can dissolve insoluble calcium salts, which will flow away with rainwater.

But, if your soil is very much alkaline-rich in lime, the base will neutralize the acidity of the vinegar. Hence vinegar might not have any effect on your soil pH. Vinegar affects only the soil it touches.

It is a safe cost-effective method to lower soil pH. But, it is not a longstanding efficient solution for large-scale use.

Conclusion – How to Lower Soil pH with Vinegar?

Change the pH of the soil gradually. Sometimes even after multiple amendments, you might not get the results as per your expectations. Work patiently, or choose an alternative – construct raised beds or choose another ideal plant for your soil.

4 thoughts on “How to Lower Soil pH with Vinegar?

  1. Can I sprinkle the vinegar/water solution directly on plants already in the ground.?

    1. This won’t be a good idea.

  2. Can you provide any references for this? All my sources show that small amounts of acetic acid are oxidized very rapidly in agricultural soils.

    1. What do you mean by rapidly? I don’t know the answer, but if it’s say around a week, then it shouldn’t be much of a problem to sprinkle the garden on a weekly basis. In the meantime, I recommend using Iron Sulfate, the cheapest way for a more long term cure. Don’t use Ammonium Sulfate, which adds tons of Nitrogen, nor Aluminum Sulfate, which causes Aluminum to accumulate in your soil, and after a while plants will absorb it and cause health problems for you. You can use elemental sulfur, but the only commercial products I’ve seen for the garden are in mixtures with other substances, and the cost is high. Iron sulfate seems safe and it’s the cheapest I’ve found.

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