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sheeshshe
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baking soda for acidic soil?

Would this be a good or bad thing? I'm just trying to think of ways to up my pH of my soil. I KNOW it is acidic, not sure exactly how acidic, but I have wild blueberries all over my lawn, and my tomatoes are always unhappy because it is too acidic. they get blossom end rot and other leaf things because of the acidity. could I apply baking soda? and at what rate? and how often?

I wonder if epsom salts can also help. I try putting in lime each year, but it doesn't seem to help all that much. perhaps because I just put it around my plants and it doesn't really wash in all that fast?
Sheila, gardening on the zone 4b/5a line.

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MyMrSir1112
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I'm sure you could use baking soda but at what rate is a question of how acidic. I would get some gypsum and spread it around if I was shooting in the dark on how acidic the soil is. Testing is the only way to really know. Testing is the only way to really know. The second time wasn't a mistake. Gypsum is a safe way to increase calcium which helps with blossom end rot and can be used just about anywhere, if that is the biggest concern. The leaf thing though....? :D
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sheeshshe
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so gypsom increases calcium and also increases the alkalinity as well?

The leaf thing.. the edges of the leaves were I think dark? I can't remember exactly, but when I asked on here and when I went to the organic plant supply store I was told it was the leaves way of saying the pH was all wrong too. Once I added the stuff to up the calcium and pH etc, it went away. it was a tomato fertilizer thing.

All I know is that the places where I added garden soil from the local sand pit, all those plants performed super well and had no problems. All other plants planted in original soil, don't' do well at all and struggle all season. I couldn't afford to get more soil this year bc our dryer broke.

:(

I'm going to add more compost again too. I try and do that every year, but it doesn't make a difference with my acidity problem.

I would get it tested if I knew a way to get it tested for cheap. its too bad I can't use a water sample test kit LOL. I have lots of those drops for my fish tank :)
Sheila, gardening on the zone 4b/5a line.

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rainbowgardener
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agricultural lime is what is traditionally used to raise the pH and the bag of it would give you recommended application rates.


You can get a 40 lb bag of pelletized lime for $4

[url=https://www.ruralking.com/40-lb-pelletized-bag-of-lime.html?utm_medium=google&utm_source=cse&cvsfa=1908&cvsfe=2&cvsfhu=38333830303130]pelletized lime[/url]

that's just a sample, any garden store would have it.
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MyMrSir1112
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not the alk. just the cal. it's mainly for BER.
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sheeshshe
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I must not be using enough lime then. and then it doesn't help when I water them, I"m putting water with the pH of 5.2 on my plants. AHHHH! perhaps I need to also treat my water when I water them??
Sheila, gardening on the zone 4b/5a line.

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rainbowgardener
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Wow! I guess so! Water is usually neutral, how did yours get so acid?

Yes I think you would need to neutralize the water if you ever want to raise your pH.

And if you are talking about the ground, not containers/ raised beds, the lime needs to be re-done once or twice a year. It will constantly be neutralized by the surrounding more acid soil. Might help to grow your tomatoes in raised beds...
Last edited by rainbowgardener on Fri May 25, 2012 5:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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sheeshshe
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My water has been 5.2 since we moved in. the whole neighborhood is acidic. it eatsaway at the copper pipes! we had to change all our pipe to flexpipe. and it took me years tofigure out how to keep a fish tank. our water is SO whacky that my water that I replace in my fish tank doesn't even change with the baking soda and epsom salts until I bubble it for 4 hours.:( Not sure why I didn't think about the water effecting my plants before! it just hit me now. ugh.

I do put more lime each year. and sometimes mid season too.

I wonder how I can fix my water for my plants grr. I need a rain barrel I think. but, even with that, I woulnt be able to run it through my pipe watering sysmte that I made for my garden.
Sheila, gardening on the zone 4b/5a line.

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sheeshshe
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oh, and its not just tomatoes that I have problems with. I can't even grow cucumbers, radishes, squash, etc. green beans do ok though!
Sheila, gardening on the zone 4b/5a line.

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rainbowgardener
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So do you think all this acidity has something to do with the question you asked previously about why you have so much trouble with fungus on everything?

Don't we usually say more fungal soils are more acid and vice versa?

I found this:

The pH or acidity of the mulch is another important factor. Sour mulches that give off acrid odors may range in pH from as low as 2.5 up to 4.8. Highly acidic mulches are toxic to most plants and promote the growth of fungi. Bacteria that inhibit fungal growth cannot colonize mulches when the pH is lower than 5.2. The low pH and fungal problems are avoided if the raw material is nitrified and composted as described earlier.
https://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/3000/3304.html

It was about mulch, but seems like it would apply more generally.. more acid conditions promote the growth of fungi and inhibit the growth of bacteria that would prevent the fungi.

Wow!! We may have just figured out your problem.

It makes sense in the fact that sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and potassium bicarbonate solutions are treatments for plant fungal diseases.

So if you raise the pH of your soil AND of the water and you treat your fungal diseases with baking soda solution, everything should get better including all the disease problems! :) :)

As long as your water is so acid, I would be extra careful about never watering leaves, only the soil, so as not to create environments on the leaves conducive to fungi.

If you let your water sit over night will some of the acidity dissipate? I'm thinking of how chlorine and fluorine outgas from water that sits. But I don't know what is causing your acidity. You might give it a try though... you can just get litmus paper strips to test it.
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I think wood ash Marlin mentioned sounds like a great inexpensive solution.
I wish I had a fireplace or a wood stove.

I usually make do when we are not in drought by burning some wood in the patio firepit. I always add apple and plum clippings and branches. My kids love it when I start the firepit because thats when we roast marshmallows. :()

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DING DING DING DING DING!!!!!!!!!!!!! I think you figured it out! that totally makes sense. PERFECT sense! your'e amazing! and thank you!

We live across from a swampy type area, and I was told that decaying plant matter often acidifies the neighboring water. but it is a small swamp and we're across the street, but maybe it all goes in the same water table or something?

so, OK... apparently my pipe watering system isn't going to work for me since I can't hook up a bucket of water to it since there is no pressure to the bucket of water. hmmmm... looks like I must manually water from here on out with lots of watering cans.

do you think that I should use baking soda regularly to prevent the fungal diseases? it is just harboring on my property, I'm going to get it. we get it nearly as soon as my plants get in the ground. and I fight it all season long. it is such a frustrating battle!
Sheila, gardening on the zone 4b/5a line.

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sheeshshe
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oh and I have water test drops that I have for my fish tank. only prob is, my water is so low it doesn't register on the thing hahahah. I want my water to be what? 7 pH? does the hardness matter as well? bc my water also has 0 hardness.

and when I bubble the water for 4 hours it changes the pH if I have stuff in it, but only when I bubble it will it accept the baking soda and epsom salt. I wonder if bubbling it along would make a change. haven't tried that.
Sheila, gardening on the zone 4b/5a line.

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Pump? Raise rainbarrels and use gravity?
I'm thinking some kind of solution might be in Lehmaan's catalog

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Yes, make a solution of 2 tablespoons of baking soda in a gallon of room temperature water, maybe add a few drops of soap and use that to spray everything that has had problems with fungus and maybe everything that is likely to. Be sure to get the undersides of leaves. Do that once a week for awhile, until you get on top of all this and get your soil and water pH neutralized.

I did think that was very cool, when my brain suddenly put together this thread of information with the older one about why is your property such a haven for fungus.... :idea: :idea: It's nice when there are actually answers!
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Garden detectives! :D :clap:

I don,t remember do you use raised beds and containers? That seems to me the way to go. It will be difficult to fight an entire area determined to stay acidic. Better to use more neutral soil separated from the rest of the environment. Watering IS an issue but now that you,ce realized it, I think there should be a way to pre-treat the water before applying to the garden.

Do you get acid rain as well?

Concentrate on growing crops that are tolerant of acidic soil in the ground.

I think too, that if there is an abundance of fungi, it would help to try to nurture more beneficial ones to out compete the harmful ones.

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$ is an issue, so I will probably have to really inconveniece myself here for at least this summer, until I can figure out a way to simplify the water issue.

Ok, I will def have to spray stuff like that until I get it under control. man I sure hope this year is a good year now that we're figuring this out! I hope!!!

I added on to my garden last year with raised beds with soil hauled in. all the stuff there did really awesome. I had cucumbers galore! finally I grew cucumbers! and finally radishes too!

as far as acid rain, we do have acid rain, but I'm not sure how acid it is compared to my well water. perhaps I should do a pH test on that too. I can't imagine it is 5.2 though!

I am so glad there are answers, I knew it had to be something, but couldn't figure out what. I knew it had to be an acidity thing due to 8 years of fiddling with this garbage. I hope this is the year!!! I do wonder though, since I've been watering all last year with the acidic well water, I wonder if I lowered the pH of the soil I brought in. perhaps I ought to add some lime to that as well?
Sheila, gardening on the zone 4b/5a line.

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since I've been watering all last year with the acidic well water, I wonder if I lowered the pH of the soil I brought in. perhaps I ought to add some lime to that as well?
You should check it's pH. There are available meters and home test kits or send in a sample as noted above.

Yes, it's quite possible that you lowered the pH of the soil you brought in by using your acidic water on it all last season, but if it were me I would want to know before I messed with it.
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OK, this going to be a real pain to treat my water before watering. I don't really have the set up for this. Any ideas on how to do this efficiently? Maybe I should just have a bucket out there that is always ready? bc when I go to water stuff, I surely don't think, "Oh, I need to add baking soda, etc hours before". then it is too late and I'm already watering with my 5.2pH water. I got my tomato plants in on saturday.
Sheila, gardening on the zone 4b/5a line.

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Since your area has this acidity problem, have you asked anyone in your neighborhood how they deal with it? Also, if you have an extension agency, that would be a good place to start.
The rain barrel idea sounds good depending on the rain's pH .
All soil becomes acidic with time, and is usually amended with lime.
As peoPle have said here, the only real way to know what to do is to have testing done and to seek help from local professionals who are familiar with your problems.

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One solution is to get a water filter; a calcite filter will take the acid level down in your water. I have slightly acidic water and have some copper pipes so I installed a calcite water system. It is not cheap but I installed it my self and saved there.

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sheeshshe
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what makes me laugh the most is that everyone on my street swears that it is HARD water that we have. to the point where they argue with me about it. because they get 'rust" on their fixtures. the 'rust' is from the copper pipes being eaten away! no joke. when we replaced our copper pipes, the rust looking stuff went away. the previous owners here installed a WATER SOFTENER. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!


Heneyways.... still not sure yet what we'll do. we're broke right now, so whatever I do will have to be cheap/free.
Sheila, gardening on the zone 4b/5a line.

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there are treatment systems that "look" like water softening but are intended to adjust the pH - depends on what's inside them.

a pH of 5.2 will indeed eat copper and produce the green stains. even with pvc pipe, not subject to pH attack, the faucets/metal parts/etc remain under acid attack and you can plan on higher maintenance in that regard.

for your gardening water, one el'cheapo method:
55 gallon drum, gather up / smash up a bunch of clam shells / sea shells, fill the drum about 1/2, store the water in there prior to use. the acid will attack the calcium in the shells and "neutralize" itself.

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sheeshshe
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OH! yes! thank you! I forgot about that method! that is a method used for fish tanks, along with a drip method of adding water in... but mine was so acid that it was adding too much of a change in at once for the shells to keep up and change the pH. But, I think this would be perfect for the garden.

hmm. I do wonder if it will change the water too high. I will have to try it I suppose! it is worth a shot. I will have to remember where I found the bag of sand that is crushed shells in sand form. I got it at the hardware store, but that was 5+ years ago. it was cheap.
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Given that your soil is acidic also, it's hard to imagine that the shells could possibly raise your water pH from 5 to "too high." Even if it some how went past neutral (which I don't think would happen), your soil would benefit from some extra alkalinity, save you some lime...
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Ok, that is it. I"m totally doing it :) I CAN DO THIS THING!!!!!!!!
Sheila, gardening on the zone 4b/5a line.

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Chicken grit -- crushed oyster shells. I got mine at the feed store -- like a sack of potatoes and heavy. I use it as soil amendment.

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sheeshshe
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really?? I would never have thought of that. and it is a good price too! if I already put lime, should I toss any oyster shells around my plants too?

I don't' want to be overkill here though haha. maybe put some in a month or so?

perhaps it being in the water will be enough?
Sheila, gardening on the zone 4b/5a line.

Dillbert
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"agricultural lime" is essentially "all chemical, fast acting" - it'll change pH no matter what.

"limestone" - ground or pelletized - is just plain ole inactive-sit-there-and-look-pretty stuff.
when something acid comes along, it's a snatch&grab mutual destruction thing. acid eats limestone, pH sees a slow natural change.

same with sea shells - funny you mentioned the fish tank - 'zactly what I did for many many many years - couple shells in the tank, if the water got to going acid, the acid ate the calcium out of the shells - made a mucho perfect "buffer" to keeping the fish tank water stable.

the value to the "natural aka organic" approach is: you toss some stuff in, it does no harm - but it does good should things in the pH world start going wonky.

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sheeshshe
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oh yeah, the water softener. the plummer said it was one. it wasn't hooked up when we moved in though. but it does make be laugh and roll my eyes :)



I "think" it was either 7.6 or 7.8 that the crushed coral would turn my water in my tank. I did have a LOT in there, a inch thick layer at the bottom of the tank.
Sheila, gardening on the zone 4b/5a line.

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