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A garden is only as good as the ground that it's planted in. Discussion forum for the many ways to improve the soil where we plant our gardens.

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Old August 30, 2016   #61
My Foot Smells
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Theres not much point in taking a soil test and then ignoring the labs recomendations, is there? The most important role ph plays in your soil is to allow uptake of nutrients needed to grow the crop you list on your soil test. Certain nutrients are more readilly available at different levels of acidity or alkalinity.
Barbee, i might be getting a little confused. I thought the wood ash was an alternative to the lime for adding a basic element to raise the pH. Or maybe used in addition.

You make a valid point though, and will give it some thought. I do like the idea of using what's organically available to mend the garden soil. Incorporating the lime is no problem either for me.

I think my ignorance is showing through. Soil composition is not a strong suit, so on the learning curve.
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Old August 30, 2016   #62
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Theres not much point in taking a soil test and then ignoring the labs recomendations, is there? The most important role ph plays in your soil is to allow uptake of nutrients needed to grow the crop you list on your soil test. Certain nutrients are more readilly available at different levels of acidity or alkalinity.
It's not ignoring their recommendations, it's just using different sources of those nutrients. I believe in following mother nature's cues. She burns down forests, lets animal carcasses and plant matter decay on the ground, and floods the land periodically. Those are all natural methods of fertilizing the land. It's natures way, and that's the best way. It's also called sustainable agriculture. Factory produced chemical fertilizers do more harm to the environment.

BUT, I would have another soil test done in the spring before planting, to make sure the levels are good.
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Old August 30, 2016   #63
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LMAO. I have one but mine is 1/4" hardware cloth. I use it to sift bales of peat moss to make my seed starter mix.
My last one was actually 3/8". Most of the time I used it to screen pine bark fines. The big chunks go to mulch, the small ones into a mix. (Think 5:1:1.) We had a recycling program, so beer bottles weren't that much of a problem.
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Old August 30, 2016   #64
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My last one was actually 3/8". Most of the time I used it to screen pine bark fines. The big chunks go to mulch, the small ones into a mix. (Think 5:1:1.) We had a recycling program, so beer bottles weren't that much of a problem.
Only time I had beer bottles in the fire was when my adult kids had bonfires. I put a stop to that.
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Old August 30, 2016   #65
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It's not ignoring their recommendations, it's just using different sources of those nutrients. I believe in following mother nature's cues. She burns down forests, lets animal carcasses and plant matter decay on the ground, and floods the land periodically. Those are all natural methods of fertilizing the land. It's natures way, and that's the best way. It's also called sustainable agriculture. Factory produced chemical fertilizers do more harm to the environment.

BUT, I would have another soil test done in the spring before planting, to make sure the levels are good.
I was not directing my post to you.
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Old August 30, 2016   #66
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May I add that ash even ash from boxes will raise the pH it will also add K/potassium to your soil which it says it is low in.
Potassium is also called potash because it was discovered from ash from the burning of potted plants.

Wood ash is what you also make lye from by running water through it.
It is very caustic concentrated and is immediate.
As was said bust up the charcoal and put it in the garden too.
Be reminded the Ag extension guys recommend stuff from commercial sources.

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Old August 30, 2016   #67
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May I add that ash even ash from boxes will raise the pH it will also add K/potassium to your soil which it says it is low in.
Potassium is also called potash because it was discovered from ash from the burning of potted plants.

Wood ash is what you also make lye from by running water through it.
It is very caustic concentrated and is immediate.
As was said bust up the charcoal and put it in the garden too.
Be reminded the Ag extension guys recommend stuff from commercial sources.

Worth
That's the point I was making while trying not to show any bias. The Ag experts will always recommend chemical fertilizers. Many here know the value of blood and bone mean, fish emulsion, kelp, etc. There's more than one way to skin a cat. I just like to offer options that haven't that may not have been considered. Our old world ancestors used to use all readily available and natural fertilizers in their gardening.
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Old August 30, 2016   #68
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I dont mind showing bias at all.
There is a place for both fields.
One for the farmer trying to squeak out a living and one for the small gardener.

I do think it is about time these Ag extension folks caught up with the times.
I have been hearing the same repetitious BS from them for 50 years about amending soil.
It all involves buying chemicals.
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Old August 30, 2016   #69
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I would think lime to be organic. Figured it has been around since the stone age. (Pun intended)
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Old August 30, 2016   #70
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I would think lime to be organic. Figured it has been around since the stone age. (Pun intended)
It has been around since before the stone age and so has petroleum and it is organic too.

Maybe I should have said farm supply instead.
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Old September 1, 2016   #71
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Do not till pelleted lime into your beds without letting rain or irrigation break them down into powders first.
You are basically returning the pellets into powder (it was powder before it was a pellet) by doing this, thus increasing the surface area of the lime for better and uniform reactivity.

Your test shows what you need (like barbee said). You can determine exactly what purchased limestone has in it and be confident you are adding the right elements. Limestone is as natural as ash.
Ash is fine option, but you don't have a really good idea of the exact elemental composition or quantity without getting it analyzed. So, how much you use will be a guess, and going with someone else's rate is blindly following their experience based on their soil and climate.
Again, not wrong to use, but getting a test done implies you are looking for a some level of precision, and not following that up with known elements of specific quantities is sort of counter productive.
Like if you had a blood test or stool test and it shows you are very low in iron. You know you can take an iron source, but how much and from what source. You could just say, well, I'll take molasses. Well, how much? How much do I need based on what is contained in molasses versus ground beef? You would need to know what each source contains, then figure on how much of either you need to consume to get to where you want to be.
Hope that makes sense.
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Old September 1, 2016   #72
My Foot Smells
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Do not till pelleted lime into your beds without letting rain or irrigation break them down into powders first.
You are basically returning the pellets into powder (it was powder before it was a pellet) by doing this, thus increasing the surface area of the lime for better and uniform reactivity.

Your test shows what you need (like barbee said). You can determine exactly what purchased limestone has in it and be confident you are adding the right elements. Limestone is as natural as ash.
Ash is fine option, but you don't have a really good idea of the exact elemental composition or quantity without getting it analyzed. So, how much you use will be a guess, and going with someone else's rate is blindly following their experience based on their soil and climate.
Again, not wrong to use, but getting a test done implies you are looking for a some level of precision, and not following that up with known elements of specific quantities is sort of counter productive.
Like if you had a blood test or stool test and it shows you are very low in iron. You know you can take an iron source, but how much and from what source. You could just say, well, I'll take molasses. Well, how much? How much do I need based on what is contained in molasses versus ground beef? You would need to know what each source contains, then figure on how much of either you need to consume to get to where you want to be.
Hope that makes sense.
Thanks for the advice on letting nature break down the pellets, I was going to just till in it the beds at some point after application. Rake it into the top first.

The ash is at my disposal, and may add some along the way. However, my beds drain really well, which I believe helps keep disease at bay in early spring, and would have concern about too much sooty ash holding water. But a good thing to know for sure, as I can mix with new soil composition when making another bed or two - which I plan on doing this winter. Also knowing, instead of dumping on the elm on outskirt of property, it can used to top off around trees and such.

In addition, I am not shooting for perfection, simple goal is to raise the pH, but not really fixated on a number. I am willing to slowly build up if necessary. I haven't witnessed any problems with production in the acidic bed, and may be a little skeptical about the test results from the limited sample in the first place. So, just like a swimming pool, going to chum the beds and not go for a major dump.

The weather is looking to break tomorrow (whew!!!) and brief cooler temps; which will allow me to get out there and get some things done. It has been hot, sticky, and buggy - not a recipe for manual labor tasks.

Last edited by My Foot Smells; September 1, 2016 at 09:27 AM.
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Old September 1, 2016   #73
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Do not till pelleted lime into your beds without letting rain or irrigation break them down into powders first.
You are basically returning the pellets into powder (it was powder before it was a pellet) by doing this, thus increasing the surface area of the lime for better and uniform reactivity.

Your test shows what you need (like barbee said). You can determine exactly what purchased limestone has in it and be confident you are adding the right elements. Limestone is as natural as ash.
Ash is fine option, but you don't have a really good idea of the exact elemental composition or quantity without getting it analyzed. So, how much you use will be a guess, and going with someone else's rate is blindly following their experience based on their soil and climate.
Again, not wrong to use, but getting a test done implies you are looking for a some level of precision, and not following that up with known elements of specific quantities is sort of counter productive.
Like if you had a blood test or stool test and it shows you are very low in iron. You know you can take an iron source, but how much and from what source. You could just say, well, I'll take molasses. Well, how much? How much do I need based on what is contained in molasses versus ground beef? You would need to know what each source contains, then figure on how much of either you need to consume to get to where you want to be.
Hope that makes sense.
Thank you!
And let me add if you need an organic source of any element you can usually find it. Or you can use a mix of both. I have found that synthetic ferts tend to fix things quickly but will not last as long in your soil. Organic additions take a bit longer to work but tend to work for longer. I use both in my garden depending on what i need to fix and what my goal is.
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Old September 2, 2016   #74
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Let me chime in here with some general thoughts, then some more specific.

pH is not something you goal-seek. You balance ALL your elements based on your soil type and the pH will go where it needs to go.
Trying to change pH without regard to all the other factors is like trying to change your temperature without asking what is causing your temperature to be high or low.
You might get a reading of 102 and take an aspirin to get it lower, but you never took the nail out of your foot that you accidentally shot out of your nail gun last week.

Base saturation tells us what the soil is composed of in terms of the cations: calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium.
The ideal is for calcium and magnesium to equal 80%.
In a heavy clay, calcium should be about 70% and magnesium 10%. Yours is 60 and 7.7.
A sandy soil would need 60 cal and 20 mag.
Calcium opens up the soil, and magnesium tightens it up and makes it sticky. It grabs the water available.
So, now would be a good time to mention that you can over apply ANY material/element with harmful results.
The soil can only hold so much stuff. When you put too much of one thing, something else has to be pushed off to make room.
Now, based on your test, you absolutely should not just put down calcium lime. You want Dolomitic lime, as it provides magnesium along with the calcium (you need to raise both elements).
Your potassium is also low. It should be 3 to 5%. You are .81
So, yes, calcium will raise pH, but so will magnesium and potassium.
So you want to ask, why am I raising my pH, and how. By adding the mag and potassium you need, your pH will inherently go up.
Another way to put it is when someone says to me, "my pH is 5.8", my first question is "WHY"? Then we add what is missing, and it goes where it should for your soil type.
Hopefully your sample was not from a spot that has had sulfur put on it in the last 6 months (could be sulfur coated urea, or ammonium sulfate form of nitrogen), or just a moderate to heavy app of nitrogen in the last 30 days. This can drop the pH and make it seem as though you need calcium.
So when you have high pH readings, 8.2 in one of our raised beds that hasn't been amended very much with compost YET, can you talk about that please? Heavy clay in an area that had a street running under it and houses before being knocked down and carried away. (compressed soil in other words.

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