Testing pH of water

West Newton, MA

I had an experienced indoor gardener over my house last night to look at my setup and to investigate the cause of the problems I've been having, especially to figure out why so many of my basil leaves are gnarled and curled up, some even looking like they've been eaten. Even though I do have a fungus gnat problem, he says gnats wouldn't cause the basil to look like that.

In addition to the gnat problem he did see a minor problem with white flies and soil mites which he recommends treating with Neem oil. But he thinks that the reason the basil looks so deformed (the gnarled leaves are also starting on my arugula seedlings) may be from water that is too alkaline. That causes the plant to be unable to take up the nutrients that I am providing in the water and it gets weakened, susceptible to pests and and the leaves deformed.

He said the first order of business should be to test the pH in the water. I know there are various meters and kits, so I phoned my local gardening supply store and they say the one they recommend is from Blue Lab Corporation and costs $110! He says the lesser ones, for $45, are not good quality and typically only last 3 months.

How have other folks had the pH of their water tested? I was not planning to spend $110. Thanks for any advice.

Magnolia, TX(Zone 9a)

Took my sample to the pet store, tested for free- fish require specific ph. Well water is typically alkaline in states where the caprock limestone is drilled thru to reach the water in the county areas- acid in the cities where its run thru the filtering systems and reused.... soil testing kits can also be checked and there are some available thru nurseries or even wallyworld/lowes/home depot gardening centers- your soil will reflect the acidity/alkalinity of your water. I have seen a thread somewhere in one of these forums on controlling water ph, - but if you are watering thru city water, get them to give you their last analysis report on WHAT is in their water...

West Newton, MA

Thanks, I took your advice and called a high-end fish store near me and they very generously were willing to test my water on their equipment. With the first test the pH value was 9.07. Surprised at getting such a high reading, they recalibrated the pH meter and tried again and the second time it was 9.31.


What results would folks here expect to get in trying to grow oregano, thyme and basil indoors under grow lights with water this alkaline?

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Aha! good solution to your problem. I was wondering if the test strips would have worked for that purpose?

No experience here but I use rainwater. Perhaps you could harvest some for this use?

Magnolia, TX(Zone 9a)

Wow, that's a brutal ph! Saving rainwater? These herbs are weeds-but not sure they could handle that, havent had to try! Hmmm - see if I can find a professional to look at your post

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Kitt ~ how much rainwater could some potted herbs take? Saving rainwater would be the cowards way out to water them. LOL

Magnolia, TX(Zone 9a)

Minimal- need pot room- but the gnarled leaves already show the ph damaj- soil cannot be retained if that area has that hi a ph, new soil would be necessary too, it's winter, you reduce water under normal conditions if you aren't commercially disposed to force growth. These all grow needing a ton of root room, and grateful to be watered- I can't find any articles on solutions to the hi ph on DG- and I am about to kick loose in Napoleon, Oh and roll for Texas, so am ltd on searching time. Glad u r here pod, chuckl, you have more hands on currently than I do! Bbl.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Ah, maybe more hands on but less smarts than you do.

I didn't think of that but yes, the soil will need to be replaced or could it be thoroughly flushed?

Tough to repot in the winter season I would think.

Be safe on your return to Texas... welcoming you home again. 8 )

West Newton, MA

I bought some "ph Down" solution from General Hydroponics from my local hydroponics store, so I know I'm going to be able to get my water down to a neutral pH. But I was wondering if folks here had any thoughts about what specific effects would typically show up with growing herbs indoors using pH 9 water.

Here's a sample basil leaf showing gnarling and crinkling, though the oregano and thyme don't have this. Any thoughts about if could this be a consequence of the very alkaline water?

Thumbnail by rick7
Magnolia, TX(Zone 9a)

Sweet basil- mine look that way all the time- I consider it simply that variety- I prefer the more compact box basil, and apparently the ph may NOT be the issue if only the basil is doing that.

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