I recently picked up a soil pH meter and took a series of readings
across my garden. Most of my results were in the 6.0 to 6.8 range,
but I do have one corner of my garden where the pH ranges from 5.2 to
5.9. I added some slow release, pellitized lime, but I understand
that can take up to 6 months to dissolve and change the pH. I have
onions, tomatos, peas, beans and radishes planted in this area. 2
questions, how bad is a 5.2 pH on these plants and should I perhaps
carefully sprinkle some quick lime on the surface and incorporate
this? My rows are spaced at 18" so I should be able to do this
without touching any plants. Or would this cause a too radical pH
swing and am I better off suffering with the present pH until it
Assuming your pH meter is some where near accurate, I would just stick with the
pellatized lime. The more acid the soil the faster it works. The peas and beans
are not happy at that pH but tomatos are relatively tolerant.
email@example.com (Jay) wrote in message
Assuming that the readings are correct:
I put my first garden in a boggy place where the soil under the beds
was about 5.0 (I discovered that later). The beds are compost but over
time earthworms can and will turn the soil and the pH of the beds will
decrease. In time I have learned to use wood ash to correct the pH
near certain plants. Ash acts much faster than lime, which I have also
tried, and ash is also a better fertilizer. I have seen time and again
chard plants not prospering and they shoot up as soon as some wood ash
is sprinkled around their roots.
Of your veggies, tomatoes and beans should do OK all the way down to
5.5. I have found wood ash to improve the flavor of tomatoes. Onions
certainly will suffer, they prefer it closer to 7.0. I am guessing
that peas are fairly tolerant of acid conditions and I have no idea
In conclusion, in my experience you can add one pund of wood ash per
40 sqft in a soil which is in the fives with no ill effects and an
improvement for sensitive plants (same amount for lime). Now that you
know which ones are sensitive you should be able to test things by
yourself a bit and see how it goes. Perhaps you can try liming only
half your plants for each veggie, you may lose some crop but gain in
long term productivity.
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