There are a number of reasons you might consider adding lime to your vegetable garden, but the big question is…when should you apply it?
We are certainly going to answer this question as well as discuss the reasons you may want to add lime to your garden. Additionally, we are going to give you step-by-step directions on how to apply the lime correctly.
When to Apply Lime to the Soil of Your Vegetable Garden
In most cases, there are two times during the course of the year you should consider adding lime to your vegetable garden.
If you have talked to a gardener who knows their stuff, or seems to, they are probably going to tell you that the best time to add lime is at the end of the growing season in the fall.
Why? Because they will tell you that it gives the soil time to not only absorb the lime, but also it allows the pH of the soil to properly adjust. You might not realize it but applying lime doesn’t just change the pH overnight. It actually takes several weeks!
Now, if you want, you can also apply lime in the spring. But, since it can take several weeks for the pH to adjust, you can’t just plant in the soil immediately after applying the lime. Instead, you have to wait.
If you live in a southern, warmer climate, applying the lime in the spring might be fine because you can wait a bit before planting. However, in the northern climates, it is probably best to do it in the fall.
How to Apply Lime to Your Garden
To apply lime to your garden, the first thing you want to do is to actually make sure your soil needs it. The best way to do this, of course, it so do a pH soil test. You can buy one at most local garden centers, or you can send the soil away to have it tested.
Once you get the results of the test back, you can calculate how much lime is needed for the soil. The might greatly depend on the type of soil you have. The goal, of course, is to raise the pH over 6.5 for the best growing conditions.
Clay soil, sandy soil, and loamy soil all have different requirements, so you may want to look up a handy calculator, which you can find online, to determine how much lime you need to raise the pH.
Now that you know how much lime you need, you have to apply it. There are two main ways that people use to apply the lime to the soil.
The classic way is to use a shovel and spread the lime by hand. Most people have a shovel available, so you won’t have to buy any additional equipment. When you use this method, you just have to be sure that you are spreading the lime evenly.
If you want something easier, you can actually buy a garden spreader, which allows you to place the lime into the container, and simply walk behind it while you push. It spreads the lime evenly with very little effort on your part!
It doesn’t matter what method you use, it’s very important to wear both a mask and goggles, as lime can be dangerous.
Once the lime is spread over the soil, you must work it in. The best way to do this is with a rototiller, but you can certainly do it by hand, too. The goal here is to make sure the soil is mixed well and that the lime has been worked in deep.
How deep? At least a foot. That’s why using a shovel and doing it by hand can be a big job and most people prefer to use a rototiller. Keep in mind that simply spreading the lime on the surface and not working it in won’t do much for your plants.
When you have fully worked in the lime, you have to activate it. Do this with water! A soaker hose is best for this job, but you can use any old hose to do it. The trick is that you should do it slowly and evenly so that it doesn’t pool.
Finally, you should just let the soil set before you plant. Ideally, you should do this for about three weeks, but if you can wait longer, you should. It will definitely benefit your garden to wait for about four to six weeks if possible.
Applying lime to your vegetable garden might be a necessity if your soil isn’t acidic enough. The best way to know if you should do this is to get your soil tested. If the pH is lower than around 6.5, it’s a great idea to add lime for the best results.