RBG, you amended your soil as nature would, with natural elements to be food for bacteria and fungii, and everything turned out well, right?
Which came first? pH or biology? Do bacteria love base soils, or do they CAUSE base soils? Does fungus thrive in acid soil or is it the causal agent thereof?
These are, of course, rhetorical questions as no one has been able to answer that question to date with even the vaguest inklings of certainty... yet we assume that our chemical ministrations are exactly what is needed to put things right. We humans will make this soil fertile where nature has not.
Lime away at clay soil, knowing that lime will not even begin to become readily activated for months, and much of it will simply be sucked up by the ionic nature of the clay. You will need to do it yearly; you will have no choice otherwise if you are to attain your baser soil. Know also that as soon as you stop, within a year it will regress back to it's original tendencies...
Gypsum likewise is recommended to flocculate clay soil, and likewise it is a band-aid on a chest wound, soon dissipated and in need of reinforcement. Perhaps purchasing mined products, wrested from the depths of the earth and shipped great distances with much attendant damage and pollution isn't a very sustainable, practical, or rational approach?
I am sure a decent soil test would make our true situation clear. Gixx's soil is still a mystery without a test, but knowing his practices and having looked at hundreds of soil tests, let me hazard a few guesses. I am sure he has plenty of calcium in his soil already; he has been religiously dumping lime on it. This is not his fault; it is a failing that goes deep and wide amongst gardeners, passed from generation to generation like some ancient ritual who's true meaning has long been forgotten.
We do not actually know if his soil is acidic or base, but for the sake of conjecture, let's say it is the acidic clay that RBG is concerned with. When we look at the soil test we will see all Gixx's hard work there; in the total nutrient column (the typical Melich III test you would get from an extension service) we see plenty of calcium, possibly even high levels. But say we are getting a complete picture and have a Melich I weak acid test done as well to determine what might actually be plant available (the weak acid response found in the rhizosphere is not strong enough to etch all the possible nutrition out of the soil; the Melich I mimics the biological weak acid response).
Suddenly our "available" calcium from the initial test has dissappeared. The intensely cationic nature of the clay (due to it's high surface area) has swallowed it up! So our answer is to dump more on? To what end? Like Dr. Ingham's farmer we become locked in a feedback loop without end, as we make our soil base, we degrade the fungal side that is most important to our weak acid forces, so less is etched, so more is needed, so more fungii die...ad infinitum...ad nauseum.
Increase our fungal mass by adding leaves, twigs and other carbonous yummies, and the weak acid forces increase, etching out more calcium, which in turn raises pH. So we had the means in our soil all the time; even here in the acidic soils of the Notheast woodlands I hardly ever see low calcium in soils, just calcium locked up in biologically poor soils. We are just fooling ourselves with lime, or chemical fertilizers, or pesticides, thinking that we in our infinite wisdom can do better than nature and we are invariably incorrect.
When we take time to understand natural forces we quickly find that they are for the most part completely self regulating, to the benefit of the ecosystem as a whole. We do not even begin to understand the real depths of that wholeness; we have been repeatedly unable to establish a sustaining ecosystem made by human hands. Little glass globes with a twig and some shrimp are immediately amusing, but I have yet to hear of one going for more than a year or two; [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biosphere_2]Biosphere II[/url] and it's second coming showed just how tragically ignorant we are on this topic.
Our understanding of ecosystems is abbhorently flawed for the same reason Gixx was pouring on the lime; the passing on of paradigms that have little to do with the reality of the situation. We have been trained to think as chemists; aren't we taught that life itsef is just a series of chemical reactions? Weren't we told that there would be better living through chemistry? The Bionauts were very particular to get this tree, that bird, those ants, but an ecosystem is not an engine, a thing comprised of parts, it is a living organism as real as you or I.
We should not think as chemists or mechanics, we should recognize that we are simply voices in a great choir, senior senators in a congress of beings. Certainly we have a conductors hand, a president's command beyond that of the other species, but we need recognize we are simply another force of nature, not a master set above it. We are not able to change the laws agreed to by all, but in our hubris we do just that, committing crimes against our brethren species that I pray they never hold us accountable for. But I do feel we need to hold ourselves in account for these things... we should be first asking, how does the ecosystem vote? What note can we add to perfect the harmony?
So is Gixx's crime of liming punishable?
He has already payed the fine of purchasing vast amounts lime, and served hard labor spreading it, to little or no end. I think time served will do...
But compost would have nurtured the system from smallest bacteria to largest tree, balancing pH as the fungii and bacteria found equitable levels, harmed no one, and sequestered some carbon from the atmosphere at the same time. So I ask again. What's with all the lime?