To lime, or not to lime? Most homeowners ponder this question at some point without understanding:

1. What is dolomite lime?

Lime is an important alkaline source of calcium and magnesium for your lawn and garden, mainly composed of ground limestone. Dolomite is most often used limestone as it contains equal parts of magnesium and calcium.

Lime is used to increase the soil’s pH and decrease acidity. By neutralizing acidic soil, plants can easily absorb nutrients from the soil. Lime also improves soil texture and helps convert other soil nutrients into usable forms. Vegetables such as peas, beans, corn, cabbage, lettuce, spinach, and other greens benefit from recently limed soil. Vegetables grow best in slightly acidic soil, with a pH between 6 and 7.

2. The importance of lime in a garden maintenance program.

Garden soil is either acidic, neutral, or alkaline. On the pH scale, which ranges from 0-14, 7 is neutral, below 7 is acidic, and above 7 is alkaline. Many gardeners know that productivity of the vegetable garden decreases as the pH falls below 6. Routine liming applications maintain a balanced pH level.

On the West Coast, heavy rains can drop the pH level of the soil and turn it acidic, so liming is an important aspect of garden maintenance.

3. How to determine if liming is needed.

The only way to know the pH level of your garden soil is to test it. Use a digital soil pH meter – sold online or at our store-to test several areas of the garden to get an overall scope of the soil condition. Apply lime as needed, based on the soil test results.

4. How to apply lime to the garden and lawn.

The exact amount of lime required depends on the pH of the soil. If you don’t have soil test results, it is generally safe to apply lime at a ratio of 250 mL (1 cup) for each 15 square meters (50 square feet) of garden. To lime your garden, sprinkle the lime evenly over a dry, rather than wet, garden plot. Rake the lime into the soil, mixing it in as deep as possible. By spring, the soil will be ready for growing vegetables.