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Answers:Generally, plants like a mildly acidic soil. But, different species have different optimal soil pH values. I know that coniferous trees and rhododendrons like a very acidic soil. Obviously, a large deviation in soil pH from the optimum will adversely affect plant growth. It is best to consult an expert (nurseryman, botanist, extension agent, internet) to find out the best pH for the plants you want to grow. pH measurement is best left to an expert since it involves use of an electrode and proper soil extraction procedure. Commercial laboratories often specialize in soil analyses for homeowners so consult your phone book. There may be free service if you have a publicly supported agricultural laboratory nearby.
Answers:Honours project for what? High School? University?
Answers:Yes, it makes a difference. All plants of the same species need the same nutrients, water, light, etc., so with more around, they'd compete with each other for resources. A plant by itself doesn't have any competition. (This makes a good experiment, if you plant seeds at different densities [numbers of seeds] all in the same sized pots and measure growth (and how many survive) after a month.
Answers:I would recommend a spectrometer, measuring the light absorbed by the algae. The absorbency of a sample can be related to how much algae is in a water sample. If you don't have access to one I would take a picture for comparison or use a ruler for measuring a diameter. Since algae is a Photoautotroph (getting its energy from sunlight and carbon from CO2) you could weight your container and the amount of water added, subtracted by the total weight leaving you with the weight the algae.