Comments on cheap soil ph meters?

onetwothreetimFebruary 21, 2009

I'm mixing my own soil this year for seed starting and got to wondering if I'm getting my soil ph right.

I was wondering if anyone has used one of the many cheap (less than twenty dollars) soil ph meters that are available?

Are they fairly accurate or no? I was wondering if they could be tested with any household products (Vinegar, distilled water, etc) to verify if they are reading correctly?

I know that I shouldn't cheap out when buying tools, but I just can't afford to buy expensive equipment for everything that I try to do. Maybe I'd be better off without a meter?

I'm using lime to adjust the ph of my peat.

Also soap as a wetting agent which I assume will move the ph one way or another?

Thanks in advance for any replies.


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
david52 Zone 6

They're just about worthless. If you can find some kind of litmus paper - swimming pool stuff - and put a sample of your mix in with some distilled water and swirl it around and wait a few hours, that should give you a better, cheaper, idea.

I'd comment that if you're using peat and a bit of lime, you should get a decent, natural buffering.

I'd also comment, and speaking from experience, that for seed starting, and all the risk that goes along with maybe ruining your whole gardening season if you whiff on your home-made mix, that I'd consider springing the $8.00 for a bag of sterile, professionally formulated starter mix, and then once sprouted, transplant the seedlings into some cheaper, even home-made stuff.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 10:55AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

hi this is daamin....
Nowadays, cruise vacations are becoming increasingly popular and the prices are going down, as more and more cruise lines

are competing on offering top destinations and quality services.Discount cruises are most often offered in the United States,

Canada and UK, where the demand for ocean and sea travel is generally high and there are many cruise companies competing in

this segment.
Cheap Cruise

Here is a link that might be useful: Cheap Cruise

    Bookmark   June 17, 2010 at 3:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jim_w_ny(Zone 5a)

I've had one for years. Awhile ago it stopped working. Then I got the idea theat maybe the probe had oxidized. So I rubbed it with steel wool and it then worked. I checked it in sulfuric acid (battery acid) and caustic soda. Both showed very acid, about 1 or 2, and alkaline, over 9 or 10. Checking soil my rose beds for which I was concerned about showed one with correct ph, 7, while many were 8. This after I had diligently applied lime in early Spring. All because two soil tests in a different part of the garden tested quite acid, 6.2 and 5.8. Well seems as though that was a mistake as the liming affected my roses as flowers were smaller and some were malformed.Another result that seems to confirm what happened is one rose began to show lighter yellow foliage so I applied ammonium sulfate, an acidifying fertilizer, and iron and out it performed the rest of the bed. In fact better than it had ever done.

Anyway a long story but it seems these "cheapies" should not be dismissed so easily. They may not be as super accurate as a high priced one but if they give you an approximate measure of pH probably good enough.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2010 at 6:16AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

When I tested a couple of the cheap soil pH meters I found they gave the same results whether I tested some vinegar or a baking soda solution, even after setting the meter to nuetral in distilled water (pH of 7.0). There is enough evidence around to indicate that purchasing one is largely a waste of your money.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2010 at 6:29AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The least expensive method for checking soil pH is to use a dye indicator solution, like bromothymol blue. This will be blue around pH = 7.6, and yellow around pH = 6.5. In between these values, the solution will be varying shades of green. You have to dig up a tablespoon of soil, and make a slurry with distilled water. The slurry gets filtered, and the filtrate is what you test for pH. This method is not as precise as a pH meter, but it is reliable. A small bottle of test solution sells for around 2 dollars, and will do 50 or 100 tests.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2010 at 8:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sorry for the couple-week late response, but I just bought one and it seems to reflect what I expect at least.

I'm not sure how these meters work, but mine only seems to report anything useful if it's held in soil. If I hold it directly in water or any other liquid, it doesn't do anything. But, I took some soil from my garden, which is slightly alkaline (according to both it and a traditional kit), poured some lime juice on the soil, and the pH meter immediately lowered its reading. Might not be accurate, but I'm going with it for now.

Mine was $8 at home depot, brand is Hold All. If anyone has any ideas on how to test it in soil with a pre-known pH, I'll try that and see if it matches.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2010 at 9:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

A very good and reliable soil test, soil pH, Phosphorus, Potash, Calcium, Magnesium, and soil CEC, from Michigan State University costs $15.00. A major advantage is that you get the level of Calcium and Magnesium which helps determine why your soils pH is where it is. Your pH meter will not supply that information.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 7:03AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
madtripper(5/6 Guelph)

the cheap garden pH meters do not work. Have a look at the link below for a detailed review.

Here is a link that might be useful: garden myths

    Bookmark   January 21, 2015 at 8:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have, but why bother? The cheap ones are useless.go to your friendly neighborhood doper supply store. Get a basic testtube type thing. It takes a couple more minutes, but how many times were you thinking of testing? Pay with cash unless you want to end up on the Homeland security list.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2015 at 8:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
    Bookmark   February 1, 2015 at 3:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
    Bookmark   February 1, 2015 at 3:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


    Bookmark   February 1, 2015 at 3:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
toxcrusadr(Zone 6a - MO)

I'd scream too if I was a pepper with no bottom teeth! :-o

Are they afraid of pH meters?

    Bookmark   February 2, 2015 at 11:23AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
zzackey(8b GA)

They are useless. It only costs 7 bucks to get a soil test in Florida. It's well worth it. The horticulturist explains what you need to do.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2015 at 11:29AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
soil testing question
I posted this in the tropical fruits forum but I'm...
how would one add / help mycorrhizae
On another thread (very long and informative - why...
Need advice for filling a hole
Hi everyone, I have a 3 foot wide by about 1.5 foot...
arlene_82 (zone 6 OH)
Interpreting soil test results (for my rose garden)
Soil pH (1:1, H2O) 7.1 Macronutrients Phosphorus...
Composting gone cold
I've been composting for decades, but this winter,...
Sponsored Products
Daria Pendant Light in Orange
$199.99 | Dot & Bo
Fireclay Butler Large 29.5-inch Kitchen Sink
Star Pendant by Johnson Art Studio
$268.20 | Lumens
Disc Tripod Bowl Pendant by Johnson Art Studio
$426.60 | Lumens
KOHLER Sensate AC-powered Touchless Kitchen Faucet
48" Modern Stone Trough Console Sink
Signature Hardware
Buddy Products File Boxes Steel Suggestion Box 5620-32
$51.54 | Home Depot
Jamie Young 7"W Gradient Celadon Mini Pendant Light
Lamps Plus
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™