Posted: 25/04/2012 at 12:40
It's very useful to know the ph of your soil but personally I don't think its absolutely essential unless you are thinking of growing specific plants/veg. What is essential is your environmental observations.
Remember that alpines like a lot of grit because they hate to have their necks in the wet (which is why gravel is used) and very free draining soil so they don't have soaking wet feet. I'm no expert on Alpines or any other gardening subject, just a keen reader and gardener and as much as I can sympathise with your impatience to see results, those results won't be long term unless you take care of your soil.
In my experience, gardening is not so much about making plants grow but stopping plants from dying by providing their natural habitats as much as possible, keeping on top of pests and diseases and being good to the soil.
P.S two soil tests I saw recently from Monty and Jo on GW programs. Firstly Monty squeezed a handful of soil to test its texture, but then he threw the lump on the floor and if it break up easily, its not too heavy. Secondly, Jo put some soil in a jam jar, adding water and the lid, then gave it a good shake and left it a few days. the clay sinks to the bottom, the middle section is the sand/grit, them the water and the floaty bits are the organic matter. You can get some clue as to the condition of your soil this way