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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 October 16, 2016   #16
dmforcier
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I think I agree with ilex on this one. First diagnose the plant. The effect of out-of-range pH should be poor nutrient uptake. If you don't see a nutrient deficiency, then you really don't have a problem.

Now, does that mean that growth will be optimal? No. But the man is dealing with a rental plot over which he has little control. Good growth and good yield will be good enough.
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Old October 17, 2016   #17
Bruinwar
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From what I've read over the years, calcium uptake becomes limited when pH is high. I really have no other explanation for the limited amount of blossom end rot that occurred. Conditions were nearly perfect other than some extreme temps in June that appeared to cause some blossom drop. Dry weather & nutrient rich soil.

This past season was the highest yield for me. The only issue was very little early harvest, then they all came at once & I couldn't keep up! The end rot was rare but it did happen. Next year I can almost count on it not being optimal weather & I want to do all I can to improve my odds. 2015 was almost a total loss. 2014 wasn't that much better.

This past year I switched to a completely new organization & location. I actually have more control over my plot. Unlike the old place, they do not move the plots around & I have access to it off-season. The only drawback (IMO) is it's strictly organic, so no daconil.

Thanks everyone for all your replies. I will likely spread some sulfur this week. It can't hurt, right?!

Regards,
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Old October 17, 2016   #18
brownrexx
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruinwar View Post
The only drawback (IMO) is it's strictly organic, so no daconil.

Regards,
Joe S.
It funny that you should say that. I am an organic gardener and I have never used any daconil and my tomatoes are very productive and good tasting. I have never had a plant die of disease except for Late blight near the end of the season if it is a damp cool August. I don't know if daconil works on Late Blight because I know nothing about daconil.

One of the things that organic gardeners believe is that a good healthy soil will allow the plants to be as healthy as possible and more able to fight off pests and diseases. Optimal pH helps the plants to be as healthy as possible and not struggle to live in less than optimal conditions. We pretty much do not spray anything preventatively. We treat problems if they occur.

Bruinwar you say that 2014 and 2015 we almost a total loss and you do spray daconil so what do you think caused the losses? Obviously it was not for lack of spraying.

Note: from reading on this forum I have learned that gardening in the South brings another whole set of foliage disease challenges so I might have to garden differently if I lived there but I don't so no sprays needed here.

Last edited by brownrexx; October 17, 2016 at 05:51 PM.
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Old October 17, 2016   #19
brownrexx
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I was just at Wal-Mart and they had 8 lb. bags of Espoma sulfur for organic gardening so I bought 2 of them at $2.50 each. They would normally be about $10 each.

They also had Espoma Tomato Tone and garden Tone for the same price if anyone is interested.
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Old October 17, 2016   #20
ilex
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I don't think calcium is the most affected by high ph. I would think about iron first, for example. In fact, a lot of calcium will rise ph. A few elements can be the reason for a given number, so you need to know why you have that ph.

Too much sulfur can be a problem. That's something to keep always in mind when trying to lower ph, as that's always a short term "solution".

The best way to "fix" any soil is organic matter.
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Old October 17, 2016   #21
PaulF
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An old time agronomist told me a long time ago that it is more important to look at a complete balance rather than concentrate on one or two different parts of the puzzle. He told me to pretend that a 5 gallon bucket was balanced on a small fulcrum dead center at the bottom of the bucket. The bucket was sectioned off with all the components for good growing their size comparable to how important they are to fertility. Too much of anything would make the bucket tip over and likewise too little of something would do the same.

N,P and K have the largest sections, trace elements have smaller sections, pH has a section, weather, sun, rain, etc., etc. A good balance is what keeps the bucket upright. He had a pie chart that showed what was on which side of the bucket so that some parts offset other parts to keep a balance. I only wish I had paid closer attention or had a copy of his chart, but alas he is long gone and I am not sure it is still in existence.

I still shoot for balance and rely on soil tests to help.
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Old October 17, 2016   #22
Barbee
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Well here is my opinion, take it or leave it.
According to the soil experts tomatoes prefer a lower ph than what ou stated you have. Usually around 6.4-7.2 That does not mean you cant grow in higher or lower ph. It just means that is optimum. Certain nutrients that tomatoes like will be locked up at higher and lower ph ranges. One biggie that comes to mind is potassium. Potassium gives us overall plant health.
As for the BER. It has been my experience that BER is not helped much by high calcium, which you have plenty of by the way. Instead of focusing on calcium, i would instead look at early plant issues you might have. Meaning when the plants are young. Are you setting your plants out when its cold? Are you staking young plants against wind damage? Things like that. You mentioned the plants eventually outgrow the BER. Try to notice if you have certain varieties that are more prone to it. Take those off your grow list and replace with others that handle early stress better.
if you go to the trouble to send in a soil test, i believe i would follow the recomendations of the lab to balance your soil.
Just my 2 cents
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Old October 17, 2016   #23
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Go right to page 5 if you are not interested in nutrient requirement for tomatoes, I read some information on this thread that is questionable. You may also cross reference this at Hydo-Gardens. I hope this helps avoid confusion.
http://www.haifa-group.com/files/Gui...ato/Tomato.pdf
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Old October 18, 2016   #24
Bruinwar
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Geezz I don't know where to start here. I certainly did not mean to start such a lively debate.

AKmark, thanks for the PDF. Great info there.

Barbee, there were extreme temps in June, hot & cold. The plants were well supported. The BER was rare & was mostly on my ARRGs & some others but it never actually outgrew it.

ilex, you might be right about what is affected by high pH, I just go by what the experts claim. You seem to do find with high pH.

brownexx, in 2014 I went organic. Not that I am blaming the disease on that, it was a tough year. 2015 was a total loss, the plot was loaded with blight & IMO there was no stopping it. It rained nearly daily in June & early July, was cold & the disease had set in when the plants young. Organic or not, crop rotation is the main prevention recommendation from every single guide I've read. So I moved to a new location & plan to a new plot in 2017. I am not necessarily against growing organic & really don't want to debate it. However, fungal diseases are very difficult, prevention is the key & daconil is the #1 prevention method used worldwide for decades. in 2017 I will continue to treat in advance with organic applications.

Thanks for the tip on the prices at Walmart.
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Old October 18, 2016   #25
ilex
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All papers I see agree on a recommended or optimal ph range for optimal crop and quality. What I didn't see is studies of tomatoes grown at different ph, and for different reasons. I'm sure they are out there. I don't know what the effect of non-optimal is. I mean, it's not the same getting a 1% crop reduction than a 90%. What are the real effects?

Many modern hybrids seem to have higher and different nutritional requirements than old varieties, so that could be part of the answer as I only grow old varieties, most very local. I also think than Mycorrhiza is also part of the answer. It can change conditions a lot at root level.

In summary, I think that a certain optimal ph is not a requirement. It's just a piece of a much bigger puzzle . It might affect production, but I'm sceptic about its effect on quality. Maybe it's like when you grow tomatoes in salty soil, quality improves. Or it might reduce absorption of some elements, but if they are plentiful they compensate.

Last edited by ilex; October 18, 2016 at 09:00 AM.
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Old October 18, 2016   #26
brownrexx
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Bruinwar, no need to debate organic vs conventional. I am not an activist. I only offer suggestions on how organic gardeners do things for information that may interest or benefit others. I am extremely happy with my organic gardens but I would not presume to tell others how to garden. Organic gardening has taught me a lot about the chemistry of the soil as well as pathogens and insects.

In fact, just this morning, at the Organic Gardening Community Forum that I frequent there was a link to a really good article on soil testing. It is from North Carolina but I think that the information is quite pertinent to this discussion as it deals with pH in detail.

I especially like the chart about nutrient availability at various pH values.

https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/a-garde...o-soil-testing

I think that pH can be quite important whether you garden either organically or conventionally.

As for fungal disease, yes it can be devastating but I have had good success with preventative pruning of the lower branches and mulching with straw to prevent splashing of soil and spores up onto the leaves. Crop rotation is also important and at the end of the season I remove all of the old mulch which probably contains spores and I burn it.

Cool, damp weather can be a killer for preventing fungal disease. You may want to pick up a pack of Actinavate next year. It is organically approved and it seems to help. I have only been using it for 2 years but I read about it from a New Jersey poster who swears by it.

I also make sure to plant a couple of hybrids (like Big Beef) that are resistant to disease in case my heirlooms succumb to it.

Last edited by brownrexx; October 18, 2016 at 11:09 AM.
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Old October 18, 2016   #27
Cole_Robbie
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ilex View Post
I also think than Mycorrhiza is also part of the answer. It can change conditions a lot at root level.
If we throw in a mention of humates, I think you hit the nail on the head in reference to why gardeners disagree about topics like this one. Everyone's soil biology is different.
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Old November 16, 2016   #28
shule1
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We had lots of wood ash on some of our ground. I learned that peat moss has a pH of about 4.0 (which is very acidic). So, we amended the soil with peat moss (I mixed it with the soil well) and it worked out great. Much safer and faster than using sulfur.

One of the big things with high pH is manganese deficiency. I wouldn't bother adding extra manganese, though. Just add peat moss. It's extra organic matter, too.

A high pH sometimes means there's lots of calcium in the soil (wood ash and rockdust are high in calcium). Adding extra nitrogen to help balance the calcium may be a good idea in some cases.

Last edited by shule1; November 16, 2016 at 06:25 AM.
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