How to Grow Vegetables in Alkali Soil


It's essential when planting vegetables in your garden to know what type of soil you're dealing with. Most veggies grow much better in soil that is close to neutral, as opposed to acidic or alkaline soil. If there is too much acid in the dirt, the plants may not get enough nutrients. Alkaline soil traps the nutrients so they do not reach some plants. Take the pH range into consideration when determining which plants to put in the ground.

Step 1

Figure out which vegetables you want to plant and what the optimum pH is for those plants. Most vegetables do best when planted in soil with a 5.5 to 7 pH. See the guide in Resources for information on vegetables' desired soil pH.

Step 2

Take a sample of the soil and test it with a pH test kit. You can get one at a nursery or planting center. Seven (7) is the neutral pH. Alkaline soil is higher than a 7 and acidic soil is less than 7.

Step 3

Add organic material to lower the alkalinity of the soil. Organic material and those containing sulfur will make soil more acidic. Elemental sulfur and sphagnum peat can both be used.

Step 4

Spread 1 to 2 inches of sphagnum peat for every 8 to 12 inches of ground. If you're using elemental sulfur, you need 1/10th lb. of sulfur per 10 sq. ft. This will drop the soil's pH by a half-point.

Step 5

Test the pH again to see if it's now the right pH for the plants you're putting in. If it's still not there, add more amendments and retest it.

Step 6

Put the vegetables in the ground. Pick them once they ripen.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid using more than 2 lbs. of sulfur on a 100-sq. ft. area because it can hurt the vegetables.

Things You'll Need

  • Vegetable plants
  • pH test kit
  • Organic material such as sphagnum peat or elemental sulfur
  • Shovel


  • Hopkins Technology: Growing Vegetables in the Home Garden
  • Iowa State University: How to Change Your Soil's pH
  • Clemson University: Changing the pH of Your Soil

Who Can Help

  • Gardener's Network: Soil pH Levels for Vegetables
Keywords: vegetables alkaline soil, plant in alkaline, change alkaline soil

About this Author

Kelly Shetsky has been a broadcast journalist for more than 10 years, researching, writing, producing and reporting daily on many topics. In addition, she writes for several websites, specializing in medical, health and fitness, arts and entertainment, travel and business. Shetsky has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Marist College.