getting the soil acid,any suggestions

nicebutdim
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getting the soil acid,any suggestions

Post by nicebutdim » Sun Dec 12, 2010 6:11 pm

I've tried all sorts of remedies but none seem to work.Is there some part of this country that has natural acid soil?The composts sold as being for acid loving plants is at best over 6.5 which is not my idea of acidic.Ir seems impossible to buy true acid soil any where.Oak leaves ,pine needles ,coffee grouts sulphur I 've tried all these without success.There was a post a short while ago where someone used a liquid acidifying solution but no one seems to know what this is

Tom2006
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Re: getting the soil acid,any suggestions

Post by Tom2006 » Sun Dec 12, 2010 6:25 pm

peat is quite acidic so maybe added plenty of that...although not very environmentally friendly
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countrylover

Re: getting the soil acid,any suggestions

Post by countrylover » Sun Dec 12, 2010 6:45 pm

What you gonna grow in this soil? or maybe you wanna acidify soil where plants grow already?
Home remedies say that vinegar or bread are good acidifiers, even coke (H3PO4).
If you wanna use peat make sure it's pH is low 3-4,5.
As for sulphur granulated one is a good way cuz it won't be blown away or flushed deep down immediately. It changes pH very fast.
There are many acidifying synthetic fertilizers like (NH4)2SO4 but cannot be used with no limits otherwise too much salts accumulated in the soil will burn roots of your plants.
Mulch of conifers bark acidify soil slowly.
If nothing you have tried works you must check your bedrock. It may be pure calcium. In that case only raised bed would be a good solution.

nicebutdim
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Re: getting the soil acid,any suggestions

Post by nicebutdim » Sun Dec 12, 2010 10:51 pm

Tom2006 wrote:peat is quite acidic so maybe added plenty of that...although not very environmentally friendly
I have read about peat before and I got to the stage where I would carry my testing probe around in garden centres sticking it in bales and sacks of peat but I never saw an acidic reading on the probe.

countrylover

Re: getting the soil acid,any suggestions

Post by countrylover » Sun Dec 12, 2010 11:03 pm

Perhaps all that peat was neutralized

Tom2006
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Re: getting the soil acid,any suggestions

Post by Tom2006 » Sun Dec 12, 2010 11:17 pm

I think you would need some moisture for a decent reading?...unless I'm mistaken
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nicebutdim
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Re: getting the soil acid,any suggestions

Post by nicebutdim » Sun Dec 12, 2010 11:19 pm

countrylover wrote:What you gonna grow in this soil? or maybe you wanna acidify soil where plants grow already?
Home remedies say that vinegar or bread are good acidifiers, even coke (H3PO4).
If you wanna use peat make sure it's pH is low 3-4,5.
As for sulphur granulated one is a good way cuz it won't be blown away or flushed deep down immediately. It changes pH very fast.
There are many acidifying synthetic fertilizers like (NH4)2SO4 but cannot be used with no limits otherwise too much salts accumulated in the soil will burn roots of your plants.
Mulch of conifers bark acidify soil slowly.
If nothing you have tried works you must check your bedrock. It may be pure calcium. In that case only raised bed would be a good solution.
The plants I am growing that would benefit from acid soil are alocasia,bananas and heliconia and a variegated aspidestra. Never come across a peat with a reading as low as 3-4-5- ,not sure what effect vinegar would have on the plants,not sure I'd chance it.May give the bread a go as it's never done me any harm.My soil is John Innes no 3 so that's about neutral.

nicebutdim
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Re: getting the soil acid,any suggestions

Post by nicebutdim » Sun Dec 12, 2010 11:22 pm

Tom2006 wrote:I think you would need some moisture for a decent reading?...unless I'm mistaken
Yes I had realised that ,the peat in sacks is virtually always damp,the bales though are dry.I tried soaking some from a bale and tested it ,still no acid reading

Tom2006
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Re: getting the soil acid,any suggestions

Post by Tom2006 » Sun Dec 12, 2010 11:22 pm

A a general rule, don't try to fight what you have. If you want to plant in acidic soil then best to pot the particular plant and sink it into the ground.
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Conifers
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Re: getting the soil acid,any suggestions

Post by Conifers » Sun Dec 12, 2010 11:24 pm

Yep, the peat in bags is too dry to get a reading from. But anyway, to acidify your soil, you'd need to get several tonnes of it, and as Tom points out, that's bad for the environment.

If you're on lime-rich soil, you'll either have to learn to like lime-loving plants, or move to somewhere else where the soil is naturally acidic. Sorry!
... you must check your bedrock. It may be pure calcium.
Since pure calcium is a highly reactive metal, errr . . . no, it won't be! :lol:

countrylover

Re: getting the soil acid,any suggestions

Post by countrylover » Sun Dec 12, 2010 11:25 pm

These plants grow nicely in any humus rich soil with pH about 5-6 so slightly acidic. You do not have to acidify your soil unless it's really alkaline. Adding plenty of humus will keep pH level at optimum level.
And if you want to get really acidic peat ask at your GC about soil for carnivorous plants - its pure peat, pH 2,5-4,5

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Chad
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Re: getting the soil acid,any suggestions

Post by Chad » Sun Dec 12, 2010 11:40 pm

I think Tom is right.

In pots the battle is to stop the soil becoming too acidic. If you live in a soft water area, even 'normal' potting compost becomes acidic after a few weeks of watering, so in Cornwall I don't use special 'acidic' composts - even for a calcifuge like Rhododendron.

If your water is hard though, even acidic compost will soon be alkali if watered with tap water.

In the open ground any amelioration will be temporary, and is seldom worth the effort. Even raised beds won’t work if they get watered with hard water.

Ammonium sulfate used as a fertiliser will work, but can be over done. Vinegar works, but breaks down quite fast. Sulphuric or nitric acid can be used [VERY dilute in the watering] and are what all the fuss was about with ‘acid rain’ in the days before we worried about global warming [lets not go there on this thread].

Large parts of the South West have granite bedrock, and so have naturally acidic soils. As a rule of thumb, if Rhododendrons will grow then the soil is acidic and large parts of the UK do grow them.

Chad.

Chalk Brow

Re: getting the soil acid,any suggestions

Post by Chalk Brow » Mon Dec 13, 2010 8:24 am

At Highdown Gardens, on the South Downs at the back of Worthing they have solved the problem by building raised beds 60 - 90 cm high and filling them with imported acid soil - which is probably the most successful log term solution. However these beds are enormous!

In correcting chlorosis, which is caused by an excess of lime in the soil which locks up the iron hence preventing acid loving plants thriving, one solution is sequestered iron, but it is a very expensive solution, and needs to be applied at least once a year - on my chalk soil I sometimes have to use more than one application, and that is not even on calcifuge plants.

A much cheaper solution is as has been mentioned sulphate of ammonia. I have tried this, and where the soil was just on the alkaline side of neutral it seems to work OK and Rhododendrons grew for many years with no problems. However I have also tried it in my present garden, which is riddled with chalk and is over solid chalk without success.

I have since read that a potassium sulphate-iron sulphate mixture is effective, and they must be applied as a mixture, but have not tried it.

real_ale

Re: getting the soil acid,any suggestions

Post by real_ale » Mon Dec 13, 2010 11:22 am

Pine needles, coffee grounds, leaf litter by making a 1 metre sq cage and collect just leaves a fill and you'll have leaf mould, great stuff for free.

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DiCasS
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Re: getting the soil acid,any suggestions

Post by DiCasS » Mon Dec 13, 2010 1:54 pm

NBD a bit more info from Metalhammer that I received this morning:

Quote:
Sulphur is a long term way of acidifying soil.Sulphur powder is the quickest method,but sulphur chips last longer as they take a couple of years to breakdown.But you need something like kilo to a square metre to drop from ph6.5 to ph6.

If he is growing acid lovers in alkaline soils,the best way to go is either in pots or build a raised bed that is @ least 18" above the soil,put a membrane down,then backfill with plenty of peat.

I said I would pass it on.

Di
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