Soil PH

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Hi,
Just a quick one. I know how to increase the soils PH. But what do i add to bring i down. Thanks Mar
-- CORVIDSTATION61
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Add pine or fir needles, or add elemental sulfur powder.
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Billy

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On 2007-12-22 16:55:40 -0500, CORVIDSTATION61

Go to the garden center for sulfate.
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Hi Mark,
There are several right ways and one wrong way.
Do not use Aluminum Sulfate. The aluminum builds up in the soil and is toxic to many plants including rhododendrons and azaleas. There is one exception. Aluminum Sulfate will normally make blue/pink hydrangeas bloom blue since they require both aluminum and acidity to bloom blue.
The right ways include:
Ferric Sulfate Flowers of Sulfur (powdered sulfur)
If the soil is too alkaline, acidity may be increased by adding flowers of sulfur (powdered sulfur) or iron sulfate. I add 1 tablespoon of sulfur powder around the base of any plant showing signs of chlorosis. Around established rhododendrons and azaleas, do not disturb the shallow roots. Sprinkle the sulfur under the mulch and then replace the mulch. Do not use aluminum sulfate. Aluminum can build up in the soil to toxic levels eventually. One very common source of chlorosis is when lime leaches out of concrete, such as from a foundation or walkway, making the nearby soil more alkaline. This problem decreases each year as the concrete ages. An annual application of sulfur can compensate for this problem.
For table on how much elemental sulfur is needed to lower soil pH, visit:
http://rhodyman.net/rarhodyho.html
and click on "Soil pH"
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On 12/22/2007 1:55 PM, CORVIDSTATION61 wrote:

Besides sulfur and iron sulfate, use nutrients (including fertilizers) that are acidic. For nitrogen, I use ammonium sulfate, being careful not to use a lot all at once because it can burn both foliage and roots. I dose my roses with Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) because the magnesium promotes the growth of new "canes". My citrus and gardenia get a small amount of zinc sulfate added to the fertilizer whenever I feed them because they need more zinc than most other plants.
Gypsum (calcium sulfate) is very slightly acidic. I use large quantities to break up my clay soil, but that's still not enough to have any significant impact on soil pH.
Sulfur and the sulfates acidify the soil through the action of soil bacteria that slowly convert sulfur into sulfuric acid. Be careful that you don't overwhelm these bacteria with too much sulfur and fertilizer all at once.
Elemental sulfur does not readily dissolve and remains on the surface. Thus, you must create an environment where the acidifying bacteria are also on the surface. It helps to keep a light mulch of compost or decomposing leaves. On the other hand, most sulfates do dissolve quite easily. (Compost itself tends to be acidic as is peat moss. My compost is mostly leaf mold, which is even more acidic than normal compost.)
Where the soils or water are naturally alkaline, acidifying is a constant effort. The sulfuric acid is quickly neutralized; what is left leaches through the soil beyond where it will have any benefit. I broadcast sulfur around selected plants every year.
NO! Do not add sulfuric acid to your soil. You will kill everything. Let sulfuric acid be formed gradually by natural processes.
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Good question.
The element sulfur would lower pH. However it keeps reverting back.
You could add pine needles.
Two good articles of pH: http://www.treedictionary.com/DICT2003/shigo/CHEM.html
http://www.treedictionary.com/DICT2003/shigo/RHIZO.html
In Fact I just searched for pH and found it to be mentioned in most of these article. http://www.treedictionary.com/DICT2003/shigo/index.html
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Actually elemental sulfur is very slow acting and lasts quite a while, but should be built up slightly every couple years in smaller doses. Its advantage is that it can provide a very strong effect if needed by applying more.

Pine needles and oak leaves work, but they rot and need to be replenished annually. They are rather weak and can't be used to make too large a change.
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wrote:

Yes but you are feeding the soil. that is huge!!!!!!! Some composted wood chips for calcium and such would be nice.
See Trouble in the Rhizpsphere for starters. http://www.treedictionary.com/DICT2003/shigo/RHIZO.html
and
http://www.treedictionary.com/DICT2003/shigo/CHEM.html
A suggestion by the late Alex L. Shigo -Rather than through leaves away, why not put them into biodegradable lace-like bags, and use them for flowers and garden mulch. Add a little fertilizer and by the next season the leaves will be gone and the soil will be much better.
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here are some more words on mulch http://www.treedictionary.com/DICT2003/HTMLFILES/mulch_AAA-2.html
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On Dec 22, 1:55pm, CORVIDSTATION61

Why not add biology and let nature fix the pH for you? I would use compost tea personally before adding a bunch of other chemicals or minerals to your soil. What was the pH again and what do you want it to be? Why is it too high in the first place?
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One of the problems using tea alone is that you deprive the soil from cellulose which would be provide by added composted wood chips. Remember, mulch comes in different gradations. From teas to large fallen tree trunks.
Don't get me wrong. Teas can be very very good by adding certain essential elements. In the same sentence composted wood chips has its benefits as well. Using just composted wood chips for trees is not best. Some composted leaves and needles plus wood chips composted. A nurse log here and there. Then a tea. When you say tea are you talking about biodynamic preparations?
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And don't forget coffee grounds to lower the PH.
Patrick
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Please explain to me how Actively Aerated Compost Tea removes cellulose from the environment. This is not the case at all. In addition, the purpose of these teas is NOT to provide "certian essential elements." The purpose is to put additional biology into the soil. Nature will correct imbalances given time and the proper beneficial biology. Compost is another option, it is just more expensive and time consuming. The key is to fix the problem itself, not to just mask the symptoms.
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wrote:

Please explain to me how Actively Aerated Compost Tea removes cellulose from the environment.
[By adding composted wood chips and leaves as mulch, lets say, for trees, you are providing a carbon based cellulose (food) for the soil. By not applying composted wood chips and leaves you are not applying cellulose.]
This is not the case at all. In addition, the purpose of these teas is NOT to provide "certian essential elements."
[If you are not providing essential elements, while removing fallen leaves and wood when they fall, where are those elements going to come from?]
The purpose is to put additional biology into the soil.
[To put "additional biology" into the soil. What does that mean?]
Nature will correct imbalances given time and the proper beneficial biology.
[Are you claiming nature is balanced? Balance is the equalization of opposing forces. All is still. No movement. Stop. Death. When any system in nature becomes balanced, it dies and gives up its energy. In a sense nature moves towards balance. Many built in processes resist balance.]
Compost is another option, it is just more expensive and time consuming. The key is to fix the problem itself, not to just mask the symptoms.
Please explain the chemistry behind this treatment?
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Oy gewalt, John. Cellulose is a form of glucose (6 CO2(gas) + 12 H2O(liquid) + photons (sun light) --> C6H12O6 (aqueous) + 6 O2(gas) + 6 H2O(liquid)) that needs termite bacteria or fungi to break it back down into simple glucose that returns to the soil community as amino acids or simple sugars. When you add mulch to a garden, the mulch doesn't penetrate the soil but its' break down products do, to feed the flora and fauna of the soil. Compost tea does the same thing and adds more micro critters at the same time. Compost will break down and its' chemical components with percolate through the soil to feed the micro-critters. Having a constant population of living and dying microorganisms provides the plants with the nitrogen and other fudge factors that they need to produce the phyto nurients that make the plants, and as the case may be, consumers of the plants, healthy.
Please respond, if you have any more questions.
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Billy

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John,
I see that Billy already responded to your email. Here's a good starting point for reading more about what I'm talking about.
http://www.soilfoodweb.com/03_about_us/approach.html
Check out the section on compost tea. You're adding beneficial aerobic microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, flagellates, cilliates, and nematodes. These increase nutrient cycling, as most of the nutrients the plant needs are already in the soil, just not in an available form.
When I say that nature will correct imbalances, I did not mean that everything stops and dies in nature. I think that is a ridiculous interpretation of what I was saying. What I mean is that in nature when a disease or other imbalance (in this case we're talking pH) occurs, nature (biology) will in time correct these problems in most instances. You don't see people spraying herbicides and pesticides in old growth forests do you? Or applying fertilizer? These ecosystems were created self-sustaining by nature, without our chemical inputs. This is what I'm talking about when I suggest using biology.
~Tad
PS: Please take the time to look at the link I provided. If you still have questions, feel free to respond.
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In article

Tad,
http://www.soilfoodweb.com/03_about_us/approach.html appears to be a GREAT site. I haven't read much of it yet but I was struck by a repeated passage: " Bacteria (and fungi) need N, P, K, Ca, and all the other nutrients as well, and obtain those from organic matter and from inorganic sources as well."
It may look at first blush that the authors are recommending the use of "N,P,K chemical fertilizers" (I suspect they aren't.). My understanding from reading "Teaming with Microbes" by Lowenfels and Lewis is that most commercial sources rely on salts to nurture the plants and soil. Salts, in turn, have an detrimental osmotic effect on microorganism. I presume that the higher the concentration of salts the greater the detriment and vice--versa.
I'm just throwing in my 2 worth in and recommend that beginners try to only use organic fertilizers with food stuffs until they understand organic principals.
Apropos a discussion in "wrecked gardens.edible" on the dandelion, which has deep roots and will translocate Ca and K from subsoils to the surface. It, I believe, is also the only diuretic that supplies potassium.
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Billy

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Billy,
The author of all the writings on the website is Dr. Elaine Ingham. She is a well known in the industry and one of the pioneers in research and theory relating to the Soil Food Web. She also wrote the preface to Jeff Lowenfels' Book (another great resource). You are correct in what you interpreted from Jeff's book. He recommends organic fertilizers with NPK below 5-5-5. What Dr. Ingham is stating in the above quote is that the nutrients in most instances are already tied up in the soil, and just need to made available to the plant (this is where the biology comes in). The bacteria consume the organic material, and then are eaten by larger organisms (flagellates, cilliates, bacterial-feeding nematodes). The waste products of this process results in plant available nutrients.
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Tad
Please define "nutrient".
Also as far as soil goes and the chemistry there of pertaining to trees can be found here:
http://www.treedictionary.com/DICT2003/shigo/RHIZO.html
http://www.treedictionary.com/DICT2003/shigo/CHEM.html
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John A. Keslick, Jr.
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N P K C and so on are elements and not nutrients.
Food, Nutrient, And Fertilizer - Food is a substance that provides and energy source, mostly. Nutrient is a substance that provides an energy source, elements, and other substances essential for life, in types and amounts that can provide a healthy life. Fertilizer is a substance that provides elements, as salts mostly, or in bonded forms, that require microorganisms to alter to forms that can be absorbed by plants.
A nutrient - A substance that contains both an energy source and an element source.
Nutrients - Fungi can absorb energy sources such as carbohydrates. Plants cannot do so. Fungi can absorb nutrients. Nutrients are substances that contain an energy source, elements, and other substances in types and amounts that are essential for a healthy life. You can give a fungus a nutrient in the dark and it will thrive. You can give a plant a nutrient in the dark and it will die. Plants require light energy from the sun to "make" glucose from carbon - dioxide and water. The process is called photosynthesis. When you call fertilizers or nutrients food for trees and other plants it shows you are ignorant of photosynthesis. many people obviously do not understand plants. Sad, very sad.
Myths: Roots regenerate new roots, roots absorb nutrients, roots are all shallow, roots are the most important part of a plant, roots have pith, roots have heartwood, roots and stems are the same, roots have a green cortex, roots have associations called mycorrhizae, roots absorb food, roots are all below ground, roots on infant trees are the same as mature roots, roots have flairs called root flairs, roots cannot live under pavements, all roots absorb from the soil, over-pruning does not injure roots, roots do not compartmentalize infections, roots are independent of the tops, you can inoculate roots with mycorrhizae, root tips are called root hairs, only root hairs absorb "food", roots go dormant in winter as the top does, roots have buds, and probably many more! Is it any wonder trees have many problems!
A list of "elements" which I am talking about, can be found here in the table:
Just to clearly define what I mean when I say element. http://www.webelements.com /
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