I recently started thinking about what I’m going to plant in my garden this spring—it’s a nice mental escape from the current dreary New England weather—and as I’ve been researching different flowers and vegetables, I keep seeing references to “ideal soil quality.” For example, the growing guides in Almanac always say things like, “Dahlias thrive in rich, well-drained soil. The pH level of your soil should be 6.5-7.0, slightly acidic.”
It makes sense that soil has a pH, but it’s never been something I took into consideration as I planted my garden. I’ve always considered soil quality to be “advanced gardener stuff”—after all, my plants grow just fine—but seeing repeated mentions of it has piqued my curiosity. As a result, I started reading about soil quality, plant pH, and soil testing, and eventually, even reached out to Vanessa Dawson, a gardening expert and CEO of Arber, an organic, non-toxic plant wellness company, for expert insights on soil quality and why it matters. Here’s what I learned.