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Old 23-04-2003, 05:20 PM
paghat
 
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Default need some soil amendment advice

Soil ammendment tends to be temporary, & repeat ammendments can eventually
corrupt the soil. Some plants, like camelias, die in soils that have been
ammended two or three times. If one lives in a region where soils are
naturally to the alkaline edge, but wanting a big collection of
rhododendrons, & so truck in acidic topsoil for the collection, a few
years later the soil will have alkalinized to match the larger
environment. I love our naturally acidic soils, but if I found myself
living somewhere to the alkaline side, there'd be a few things I'd have to
give up, but many new things I could grow instead.

Ideally one understands what the natural soils are like in the region, &
if one's immediately accessible gardening areas have soil in need of
restoration or improvement (for instance, because it is all clay, or some
other repairable limitation), it would be ammended toward the natural
state of local soils. That way it might never need further ammendments
ever. Regional soil types are defined by types & percentages of mineral
deposits & topography (such as a valley below lime-rich hills), types of
plants that recycle themselves into soils, & the rainfall patterns & water
tables or amounts of surface water. One selects plants appropriate to the
natural pH levels, finding plants that do best in the actual local
environment.

-paghat the ratgirl

--
"Of what are you afraid, my child?" inquired the kindly teacher.
"Oh, sir! The flowers, they are wild," replied the timid creature.
-from Peter Newell's "Wild Flowers"
See the Garden of Paghat the Ratgirl: http://www.paghat.com/

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Old 23-04-2003, 05:44 PM
Penny S.
 
Posts: n/a
Default need some soil amendment advice

paghat wrote:
Soil ammendment tends to be temporary, & repeat ammendments can
eventually corrupt the soil. Some plants, like camelias, die in soils
that have been ammended two or three times. If one lives in a region
where soils are naturally to the alkaline edge, but wanting a big
collection of rhododendrons, & so truck in acidic topsoil for the
collection, a few years later the soil will have alkalinized to match
the larger environment. I love our naturally acidic soils, but if I
found myself living somewhere to the alkaline side, there'd be a few
things I'd have to give up, but many new things I could grow instead.

Ideally one understands what the natural soils are like in the
region, & if one's immediately accessible gardening areas have soil
in need of restoration or improvement (for instance, because it is
all clay, or some other repairable limitation), it would be ammended
toward the natural state of local soils. That way it might never need
further ammendments ever. Regional soil types are defined by types &
percentages of mineral deposits & topography (such as a valley below
lime-rich hills), types of plants that recycle themselves into soils,
& the rainfall patterns & water tables or amounts of surface water.
One selects plants appropriate to the natural pH levels, finding
plants that do best in the actual local environment.

-paghat the ratgirl


is not adding appropriate organic material (compost etc) also consdired
ameding? I am confused now.

Penny S


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Old 23-04-2003, 07:20 PM
paghat
 
Posts: n/a
Default need some soil amendment advice

In article , "Penny S."
wrote:

paghat wrote:
Soil ammendment tends to be temporary, & repeat ammendments can
eventually corrupt the soil. Some plants, like camelias, die in soils
that have been ammended two or three times. If one lives in a region
where soils are naturally to the alkaline edge, but wanting a big
collection of rhododendrons, & so truck in acidic topsoil for the
collection, a few years later the soil will have alkalinized to match
the larger environment. I love our naturally acidic soils, but if I
found myself living somewhere to the alkaline side, there'd be a few
things I'd have to give up, but many new things I could grow instead.

Ideally one understands what the natural soils are like in the
region, & if one's immediately accessible gardening areas have soil
in need of restoration or improvement (for instance, because it is
all clay, or some other repairable limitation), it would be ammended
toward the natural state of local soils. That way it might never need
further ammendments ever. Regional soil types are defined by types &
percentages of mineral deposits & topography (such as a valley below
lime-rich hills), types of plants that recycle themselves into soils,
& the rainfall patterns & water tables or amounts of surface water.
One selects plants appropriate to the natural pH levels, finding
plants that do best in the actual local environment.

-paghat the ratgirl


is not adding appropriate organic material (compost etc) also consdired
ameding? I am confused now.


It is. But if the goal is to change the soil to something other than is
the normal average in the region, it will be a temporary fix, & if the fix
is done repeatedly with soil additives (chemical or mineral), the
accumulative effect can destroy the soil for sensitive plants even if one
can get the preferred pH reading after long tinkering.

-paghat

--
"Of what are you afraid, my child?" inquired the kindly teacher.
"Oh, sir! The flowers, they are wild," replied the timid creature.
-from Peter Newell's "Wild Flowers"
See the Garden of Paghat the Ratgirl: http://www.paghat.com/
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Old 23-04-2003, 10:08 PM
Penny S.
 
Posts: n/a
Default need some soil amendment advice

paghat wrote:

is not adding appropriate organic material (compost etc) also
consdired ameding? I am confused now.


It is. But if the goal is to change the soil to something other than
is the normal average in the region, it will be a temporary fix, & if
the fix is done repeatedly with soil additives (chemical or mineral),
the accumulative effect can destroy the soil for sensitive plants
even if one can get the preferred pH reading after long tinkering.

-paghat


you mean normal healthy right?

I'm somewhere on the cusp of sand and black glacial loess. ;-)

Penny



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Old 24-04-2003, 03:08 PM
Pam
 
Posts: n/a
Default need some soil amendment advice



"Penny S." wrote:

paghat wrote:
Soil ammendment tends to be temporary, & repeat ammendments can
eventually corrupt the soil. Some plants, like camelias, die in soils
that have been ammended two or three times. If one lives in a region
where soils are naturally to the alkaline edge, but wanting a big
collection of rhododendrons, & so truck in acidic topsoil for the
collection, a few years later the soil will have alkalinized to match
the larger environment. I love our naturally acidic soils, but if I
found myself living somewhere to the alkaline side, there'd be a few
things I'd have to give up, but many new things I could grow instead.

Ideally one understands what the natural soils are like in the
region, & if one's immediately accessible gardening areas have soil
in need of restoration or improvement (for instance, because it is
all clay, or some other repairable limitation), it would be ammended
toward the natural state of local soils. That way it might never need
further ammendments ever. Regional soil types are defined by types &
percentages of mineral deposits & topography (such as a valley below
lime-rich hills), types of plants that recycle themselves into soils,
& the rainfall patterns & water tables or amounts of surface water.
One selects plants appropriate to the natural pH levels, finding
plants that do best in the actual local environment.

-paghat the ratgirl


is not adding appropriate organic material (compost etc) also consdired
ameding? I am confused now.

Penny S


As well you might be - I'd be confused after reading that, also :-)) Perhaps
it might be more simply explained:

It is difficult and perhaps impossible to make significant permanent changes
to soil pH - most soils, clay ones in particular, have a buffering ability
which will tend to revert a soil which has been amended to substantially
change pH to an equilibrium level which will be very similar to that of
native, unamended soils. Making significant changes to soil pH also requires
considerable amounts of amendments. It is therefore not generally
recommended that one attempt to significantly alter soil pH but to work
within existing conditions. The good news is that most plants will tolerate
a pretty wide range of soil pH - acid-loving rhododendrons for example are
ideally located in soils with a pH of 5.0 to 5.5 but are perfectly well
adapted to our slightly acidic PNW soils of 6.0 to 6.5. Therefore, unless
you have rather unusual conditions, it is typically unnecessary to make
drastic changes to soil pH, although small adjustments can and are made
frequently - i.e.liming lawns to adjust pH to retard moss development,
adding peat moss to plantings for blueberries, etc.

Amending soils to increase fertility and friability and to improve drainage
is done all the time and is generally considered to be a good idea for
pretty near any soil, specially those which have not been worked in a long
time. This usually involves adding some form of organic material - compost,
leaf mulch, whatever, and/or adding trace elements in the form of rock
powders. The intent is to increase soil porosity and permeability and to
encourage development of soil biota. The only drawback to this is that
overtilling organic matter into the soil (or just plain overtilling) can
destroy soil structure. This is usually more of a concern in agricultural
settings than it is in a residential garden - one doesn't often need to plow
up existing planting areas in residential gardens after initially amending
or improving the soil.:-) And ongoing soil amendment can be accomplished
simply by mulching periodically with a good organic mulch or by topdressing
with compost.

Ideally, soil amending/improvements should be done to an entire planting
area rather than to individual planting holes. Overamending individual
planting holes tends to complicate drainage issues rather than improve them
and discourages plant roots from spreading out into unamended - and to the
plants - less desireable soil conditions. In your circumstance where
wholesale amending is not possible, mulching or topdressing is the way to
go. There are a number of new soil amendments on the market which have been
fortified with both endo- and ecto-mycorrhizae as well as other essential
beneficial soil microbes which will accelarate the decomposition of the root
mass or you can do your own innoculation through the use of aerobic compost
tea. Either way, increasing the populations of benenficial soil
microorganisms will hasten decompostion and result in a very dynamic and
healthy soil condition.

Bottom line - amending the soil in a correct manner is a good thing.
Attempting to significantly adjust soil pH is generally an exercise in
futility and can destroy a rather fragile ecological balance.

HTH
pam - gardengal




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Old 24-04-2003, 10:20 PM
simy1
 
Posts: n/a
Default need some soil amendment advice

Pam wrote in message ...

Bottom line - amending the soil in a correct manner is a good thing.
Attempting to significantly adjust soil pH is generally an exercise in
futility and can destroy a rather fragile ecological balance.


So, if the pH in the area surrounding my veggie garden is 5.0 (it is),
I can forget about beets and asparagus? They both prefer at least 6.5.
Indeed, of the
veggies that prefer around 7.0, only lettuce does consistently well.
Garlic does OK, chard cabbage cardoon onions and tatsoi are relatively
small. I do not have a fetish about having huge veggies, just trying
to understand the pattern. I certainly have success with acid tolerant
radicchio and tomatoes.
I spread enough wood ash every spring, incidentally, to bring the pH
around 6.5. And the beds are more than 50% organic matter and most of
their surface is mulched with wood chips or leaves most of the time. I
manure the beds every two years. Under the beds the soil is probably
even more acid than the surroundings, having been a boggy area for a
long time.

I have also noticed that the soil near concrete has a pH of 6.5 or
higher (using the color charts provided with the kits). The pH is
permanent as long as the lime source is permanent.
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Old 25-04-2003, 04:44 AM
Pam
 
Posts: n/a
Default need some soil amendment advice



simy1 wrote:

Pam wrote in message ...

Bottom line - amending the soil in a correct manner is a good thing.
Attempting to significantly adjust soil pH is generally an exercise in
futility and can destroy a rather fragile ecological balance.


So, if the pH in the area surrounding my veggie garden is 5.0 (it is),
I can forget about beets and asparagus? They both prefer at least 6.5.
Indeed, of the
veggies that prefer around 7.0, only lettuce does consistently well.
Garlic does OK, chard cabbage cardoon onions and tatsoi are relatively
small. I do not have a fetish about having huge veggies, just trying
to understand the pattern. I certainly have success with acid tolerant
radicchio and tomatoes.
I spread enough wood ash every spring, incidentally, to bring the pH
around 6.5. And the beds are more than 50% organic matter and most of
their surface is mulched with wood chips or leaves most of the time. I
manure the beds every two years. Under the beds the soil is probably
even more acid than the surroundings, having been a boggy area for a
long time.

I have also noticed that the soil near concrete has a pH of 6.5 or
higher (using the color charts provided with the kits). The pH is
permanent as long as the lime source is permanent.


Most veggies do prefer neutral to slight alkaline soils - have you considered using
raised beds? That way you can add soil that will be a suitable pH for the veggies
without trying to constantly change the existing soil acidity. And depending on the
source of the wood chips, they could be contributing to the acidity. Using a coarse
wood product as a mulch maybe not a great idea in a vegetable garden, anyway - it
does tend to tie up nitrogen at least through the first few inches of the soil,
which is where the bulk of the feeder roots are located. I used to use compost as a
mulch for my veggies.......when I was able to grow them in a former, more sunny
garden.


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Old 27-04-2003, 09:20 PM
simy1
 
Posts: n/a
Default need some soil amendment advice

Pam wrote in message ...
simy1 wrote:

Pam wrote in message ...

Bottom line - amending the soil in a correct manner is a good thing.
Attempting to significantly adjust soil pH is generally an exercise in
futility and can destroy a rather fragile ecological balance.


So, if the pH in the area surrounding my veggie garden is 5.0 (it is),
I can forget about beets and asparagus? They both prefer at least 6.5.
Indeed, of the
veggies that prefer around 7.0, only lettuce does consistently well.
Garlic does OK, chard cabbage cardoon onions and tatsoi are relatively
small. I do not have a fetish about having huge veggies, just trying
to understand the pattern. I certainly have success with acid tolerant
radicchio and tomatoes.
I spread enough wood ash every spring, incidentally, to bring the pH
around 6.5. And the beds are more than 50% organic matter and most of
their surface is mulched with wood chips or leaves most of the time. I
manure the beds every two years. Under the beds the soil is probably
even more acid than the surroundings, having been a boggy area for a
long time.

I have also noticed that the soil near concrete has a pH of 6.5 or
higher (using the color charts provided with the kits). The pH is
permanent as long as the lime source is permanent.


Most veggies do prefer neutral to slight alkaline soils - have you considered using
raised beds? T


I have raised beds.

hat way you can add soil that will be a suitable pH for the veggies
without trying to constantly change the existing soil acidity.


Beet roots go down six feet. Are you suggesting six feet deep raised
beds?

And depending on the
source of the wood chips, they could be contributing to the acidity.


Generally, they all do. I only use them together with wood ash, and
alone for fruit trees, shrubs, and bulbs.

Using a coarse
wood product as a mulch maybe not a great idea in a vegetable garden, anyway - it
does tend to tie up nitrogen at least through the first few inches of the soil,
which is where the bulk of the feeder roots are located.


That is something I failed to replicate over many tries. It could be
that I always woodchip for the tomatoes, and layer high N compost
under them (kitchen scraps). Or it could be that N tends to go down
rather than up.

However, there is contradiction in the wisdom of this group. If you
can not change the pH, why use raised beds/compost at all? The only
hypothesis that seems viable is that veggies grow well as long as they
have part of their roots in soil with the proper pH. However, since
the soil of the beds will tend to become like the soil underneath, one
has to lime every year, even though he/she started with neutral soil.

I used to use compost as a
mulch for my veggies.......when I was able to grow them in a former, more sunny
garden.

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Old 29-04-2003, 05:08 PM
simy1
 
Posts: n/a
Default need some soil amendment advice

Pam wrote in message ...
simy1 wrote:

Pam wrote in message ...

Bottom line - amending the soil in a correct manner is a good thing.
Attempting to significantly adjust soil pH is generally an exercise in
futility and can destroy a rather fragile ecological balance.


So, if the pH in the area surrounding my veggie garden is 5.0 (it is),
I can forget about beets and asparagus? They both prefer at least 6.5.
Indeed, of the
veggies that prefer around 7.0, only lettuce does consistently well.
Garlic does OK, chard cabbage cardoon onions and tatsoi are relatively
small. I do not have a fetish about having huge veggies, just trying
to understand the pattern. I certainly have success with acid tolerant
radicchio and tomatoes.
I spread enough wood ash every spring, incidentally, to bring the pH
around 6.5. And the beds are more than 50% organic matter and most of
their surface is mulched with wood chips or leaves most of the time. I
manure the beds every two years. Under the beds the soil is probably
even more acid than the surroundings, having been a boggy area for a
long time.

I have also noticed that the soil near concrete has a pH of 6.5 or
higher (using the color charts provided with the kits). The pH is
permanent as long as the lime source is permanent.


Most veggies do prefer neutral to slight alkaline soils - have you considered using
raised beds? That way you can add soil that will be a suitable pH for the veggies
without trying to constantly change the existing soil acidity.


I don't see the point. You just said that ultimately raised beds will
take the pH of the surroundings. Also, beet roots go down six feet.
Should one think about six feet deep beds?


And depending on the
source of the wood chips, they could be contributing to the acidity. Using a coarse
wood product as a mulch maybe not a great idea in a vegetable garden, anyway - it
does tend to tie up nitrogen at least through the first few inches of the soil,
which is where the bulk of the feeder roots are located. I used to use compost as a
mulch for my veggies.......when I was able to grow them in a former, more sunny
garden.


I have not seen that, either. Perhaps because I tend to use wood chips
together with wood ash, and I always put a layer of high N compost
underneath (kitchen scraps). Also, I am willing to bet that, say,
sawdust is relatively worse, as N tying is largely a surface effect.

What I am trying to say is that, if this pH hypothesis is really true,
then adding compost or building beds does little to correct it. One
still has to lime every single year, and plants with deep roots and a
liking for neutral pH still suffer if the site is not right.


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