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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 26, 2016   #31
Barbee
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Calcitic lime works better and lasts longer than dolomitic. If you need Mg, its easy to add with epsom salts.
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Old August 27, 2016   #32
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They can always sell corn smut.

Worth
Good morning.

ha, ha, ha. yup. smut is not a word you hear every day, it conjures. the corn on the news depicting the crop demise "somehow" jumped off the stalk during the heavy rains and sat in the mud. not normally a big crop in ark., but since gas additive it has become rather popular.


Barbee & Brownexx,

Thanks for the information on lime, i see there are alot of choices. I have been doing some internet research on the options and leaning at least towards the pelletized lime for ease of application. I also see where often times the pelletized bonding agent has other nutritional additives sometimes. I don't know if it is more hype than real world. The dust just sounds messy.

I usually don't plant out until late March, early April, so six months should be enough time for any of the applications to have time to counteract pH.


Here is a brief internet synopsis of lime for ag application. obv. an infomerical for encap, but thought it was a nicely displayed overview for a novice like myself. Any additonal input is appreciated.


Ag Lime

Some types of lime, such as agricultural lime, often called “€œaglime,”€¯ are best suited for agricultural uses, and are not ideal for the average garden. This type of lime is a more coarse limestone, because it spreads better out of agricultural spreaders. However, because this lime is more coarse, it tends to take a very long time to break down, even years, unlike a fast acting lime which breaks down in a couple of weeks.


Hydrated Lime

Hydrated lime was sold for years as a garden lime. However, it is actually made of Calcium Hydroxide and should not be put on lawns or gardens, as it is caustic to plants and skin, reacting with any moisture it comes into contact with.


Powder or Pelletized Lime?

Traditional pulverized limestone is a powder made from crushing limestone rock. This powder lime is beneficial because it breaks down quickly and acts fast. The downside to this, however, is that it is extremely dusty, and difficult to transport. Quality of lime can be likened to the chemistry of the product, but also the fineness it is, as the finer it is, the more quickly it will break down and begin to work. But fineness also makes for difficult handling.
In the 1980’€™s, people began to solve this dilemma by pelletizing the dusty pulverized lime with a binder. Pelletizing lime was ideal, because it had all the ability to break down quickly and act fast, but it was easier to transport, easy to spread, and much less dusty. However, low quality pelletized lime can have a variety in the size of pellets, making suggested spreader settings slightly inaccurate.


Enhanced Pelletized Lime

Pelletized limestone has evolved to also include enhanced pelletized lime, or lime with additives such as polymers, organic acids, and micronutrients. Encap’€™s Fast Acting Lime falls into this category, because it is enhanced with Advanced Soil Technology, consisting of polymers that hold nutrients in the soil’€™s root zone, where they are needed most.


Liquid or Dry Lime?

Liquid lime is a method of applying lime in more industrial applications, such as a road side, or golf course, when a hydroseeder is utilized. Typically, this allows for spreading across vast areas, but it does not give the soil the ideal amount of lime it needs.


Calcitic Lime or Dolomitic Lime?

Raw limestone is derived from two different sources: calcitic lime, or dolomitic lime. Calcitic lime is the preferred lime, because of the powerful neutralizer that Calcium is, and also because of the added benefits Calcium offers to soil and plants. Soils that are magnesium deficient can benefit from dolomitic, but in general, the higher percentage of Calcium a lime product is, the better quality it is.


Encap’€™s Fast Acting Lime

Encap’€™s Fast Acting Lime consists of a super fine, pelletized, calcitic limestone. This equates to a powerful neutralizer that is easy to handle, delivers quick results, and fosters a healthy soil environment for plant roots, whether grass, vegetables, or flowers. It is easy to use, with last fast, lasting results. Plus, it’s safe to use around kids and pets! Find it at your local garden center, or contact us today to find a supplier near you!

Last edited by My Foot Smells; August 27, 2016 at 07:44 AM.
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Old August 27, 2016   #33
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I wouldn't spend extra for any type of "fancy" lime prepared especially for gardens. Don't stress over it. Just use whichever one you feel like buying but do incorporate it into the soil for best results.

I am not a believer in Epsom Salts. A better long term solution for adding magnesium is mulch, chopped leaves or compost. Most gardens are not deficient in Mg.

I don't like to get involved in too many additives because it usually leads to imbalances.

You have seen my soil test report and you can see that it is pretty well balanced. I do not add anything synthetic but I do spend significant time caring for the soil by adding compost and other organic materials.

Many people seem to want to add X for root growth or Y for flowering, etc and they can end up with imbalanced soil.

I am not saying that my way is the only way but it works for me.
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Old August 28, 2016   #34
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The soil test I got had recommendations of what and how much to add per acre. I didn't open your link to look at your soil test results so I don't know what it said.

Never mind, I opened your link. It does have some recommendations on it. And I'll be interested in seeing what the lab sends you as to the value range that they are sending you. That should help you see what your values really are.

"Primarily tomatoes have been grown in most of the raised beds, so maybe tomatoes have something to do with lowering Ph? (maybe I should be more diligent about ones that fall off the vine and lay amist the soil). My native is modeling clay and acidic."

Tomatoes that grow in the soil will not have any effect on your pH. It isn't anything you are doing to cause your native soil to be on the acidic end of the pH scale.

Adding compost (organic material/matter) will buffer the pH in the soil due to the way the soil critters eat their way through it. Keep adding compost like you are doing and your plants will love you for it.

There are many plants that love a low pH. All the cabbage family for example and blueberries. Tomatoes are so forgiving, will grow in a wide range of pH levels.

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Old August 28, 2016   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by My Foot Smells View Post
the results are in:

Attachment 65715


acidic soil, low N and K.

any help or suggestions would be appreciated. thanks
Here is a link with a list of what pH is optimal for which plant:

http://www.growinganything.com/soil-...egetables.html
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Old August 29, 2016   #36
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thanks.

got some blue berries that do well and azaleas also do well in-ground. Seems like most things like slightly acidic.

saw some "fast acting lime" at wally world, but they wanted 7$ for 10# pouch. next week or two, will go to farmer's co-op and get a big sack. I haven't struck down the garden yet, still have maybe 6 plants looking to rebound (cherk purp is a trooper), cherries are in their own raised boxes and coming back with some enthusiasm.

In any event, tilling in some lime with 5 months to do it's thing, should be ample.

As they say, "knowing is 1/2 the battle," and showing up is probably the rest of the equation. I'm not so hard headed that I cannot accept change. This seems like an easy one. I'm on it.
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Old August 29, 2016   #37
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; ) you go for it!
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Old August 29, 2016   #38
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I agree with Worth. That pH isn't out of line. My dirt in GA was that acidic, and most plants did very well there. Peppers in particular seem to like acidic soil, and tomatoes should too. (I didn't grow in un-amended soil and didn't take pH readings from what I was growing it, but I didn't try to change the pH.)

Further, while making a small alteration to the pH is doable, making a major alteration like a full point or more is a considerably more difficult task. Remember, there's all that acid soil around your grow area leaching all that highly acidic water into your tomato beds. If you're in a relatively isolated environment like raised beds, you might try it. But frankly, I don't see the point.
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Old August 30, 2016   #39
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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.
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Old August 30, 2016   #40
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Originally Posted by dmforcier View Post
I agree with Worth. That pH isn't out of line. My dirt in GA was that acidic, and most plants did very well there. Peppers in particular seem to like acidic soil, and tomatoes should too. (I didn't grow in un-amended soil and didn't take pH readings from what I was growing it, but I didn't try to change the pH.)

Further, while making a small alteration to the pH is doable, making a major alteration like a full point or more is a considerably more difficult task. Remember, there's all that acid soil around your grow area leaching all that highly acidic water into your tomato beds. If you're in a relatively isolated environment like raised beds, you might try it. But frankly, I don't see the point.
Good point. The "plot" thickens. I do not see any ill effects from the low pH value. This is indeed a series of raised beds, so an isolated sample may not be telling. I do grow a patch of peppers, and they are doing fine. All plants are individually fertilized with granular plant tone and perform well. I did have a rash of disease this year with heirloom varieties, but regional assessment says I fared better than anyone else I know, or at the huge community garden (which had 100% total loss). For some reason it was a very tough year in the mid-south.

The native soil is acidic and "city" water is also acidic. Agree that any attempt to alter may be temporary in nature, but also do not see any harm in mixing in some lime. In the future building of raised beds, it might behoove to line the bottom of bed with coarse ag lime to act as buffer from native.

I'm not expecting for dramatic improvement, or much increase in the pH, one point would be quite a bit.
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Old August 30, 2016   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PureHarvest View Post
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.
Excellent point on the soil pH assessment. The soil sample was taken in a spot that had no fertilizer contact for at least 3 months. It was taken 1 foot in, and taken where I had to pull a couple of tom's.

My intent on soil maintenance was primarily to add a fresh topcoat of compost each year and let it ride. I've done that for years, not even thinking about the chemistry. Figured the ind. fert. routine and fresh 'post would give plenty, which I do believe to be true for the most part.

However, now that I know, it's hard not to get 'number fixated,' on the low pH of 5.1. Would feel more comfy at 5.8. Could be societal drivel with the digit fix, as I am geared towards achieving parameters.

in any event, I would think that adding lime would be pretty docile in terms of doing any damage. I know several that automatically add lime to their soil mix recipe.

If this was in-ground garden, might not even bother. It seems like the more I learn, the dumber I get - ignorance is bliss. Also, a sack of lime is pretty cheap; so not breaking the bank.

I do think if I tried another bed, maybe the pH would be much different. But too lazy to submit another sample; and I have about 10 beds overall of various sizes and slightly different composition.

The native soil is modeling clay, when it is dry, can't drive a nail in it, when it is wet, I can manually push a stick to china.

I guess one needs to incorporate all of this information prior to buying a chunk of land. I could also rent a spot down at the community garden, but I know I wouldn't want to drive over there all the time to tend, and then wouldn't be able to take a leak so easily either.
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Old August 30, 2016   #42
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When taking a sample for a soil test, you should always take a composite sample throughout the entire bed, not just one spot. In other words, take 10 - 12 small samples throughout the entire bed and mix them together in a bucket. Take one sample from the mixture and submit that for testing.

As for adjusting pH when the native soil is acidic anyway. I adjust my soil to suit the needs of the plants that I intend to grow. They may not be native to my area and not like the pH of my native soil.

I also agree that too much adjusting gets done by some gardeners and can cause other elements to get out of balance. However some plants are pretty fussy with their pH range and an unhappy plant will not produce or grow well.
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Old August 30, 2016   #43
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When taking a sample for a soil test, you should always take a composite sample throughout the entire bed, not just one spot. In other words, take 10 - 12 small samples throughout the entire bed and mix them together in a bucket. Take one sample from the mixture and submit that for testing.

As for adjusting pH when the native soil is acidic anyway. I adjust my soil to suit the needs of the plants that I intend to grow. They may not be native to my area and not like the pH of my native soil.

I also agree that too much adjusting gets done by some gardeners and can cause other elements to get out of balance. However some plants are pretty fussy with their pH range and an unhappy plant will not produce or grow well.

I took 3 small samples from the same raised bed, other beds may be different. Reasoning was, figured I build all the beds in similar methodology and would use the reading from the one bed as a template.

If I could modestly raise the pH to 5.8, I would be happy. I agree with a blatant dump could have adverse affects. But adding lime seems pretty docile in relation, IDK.

I plan on getting the dolomite lime pelletized and adding this fall and adding the recommended rate on soil sample suggestion and tilling it in deep. In the spring, I will continue my compost addition and call it good.

Truthfully, I have not experienced any short comings to the night shades I plant in these beds. They all do well, and ppl are "amazed" at the vigor and production. I think the added compost is a nice additive. I measure by doing several drive by's at the community garden that has maybe 3-400 plots. My plants and tomatoes are always in better shape.

I hope I don't screw things up.
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Old August 30, 2016   #44
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I took 3 small samples from the same raised bed, other beds may be different. Reasoning was, figured I build all the beds in similar methodology and would use the reading from the one bed as a template.

If I could modestly raise the pH to 5.8, I would be happy. I agree with a blatant dump could have adverse affects. But adding lime seems pretty docile in relation, IDK.

I plan on getting the dolomite lime pelletized and adding this fall and adding the recommended rate on soil sample suggestion and tilling it in deep. In the spring, I will continue my compost addition and call it good.

Truthfully, I have not experienced any short comings to the night shades I plant in these beds. They all do well, and ppl are "amazed" at the vigor and production. I think the added compost is a nice additive. I measure by doing several drive by's at the community garden that has maybe 3-400 plots. My plants and tomatoes are always in better shape.

I hope I don't screw things up
.
Then dont mess with it.

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Old August 30, 2016   #45
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Then dont mess with it.

Worth
"Soil pH is rarely the cause of a garden's failure. To improve your garden's growth, start by amending the soil with a 1/2- to 1-inch layer of compost or manure."


There is a big camp that supports your statement, W1. It's always hard to disagree with the age tested theory, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," mentality.


I think the raised beds (21") are a huge success over in-ground growers here due to all the heavy spring rains. Many growers that plant in ground, wait until mid-may to let the early spring weather pass.

The only downside is the cost of bringing in the raw material. However, I did not test the material (unlike kchd..) to see what the soil reads from the "factory."

I will call them now and see, surely they have a ballpark reading on their "stuff."
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