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Aussies Living Simply

Acidifying Soil

Viewing 8 posts - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)
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  • #255978
    porgeyporgey
    Member

    Hi Alsers, I have really sandy and somewhat alkaline soil. This makes drainage great but has its drawbacks as its hard to maintain organic matter and lowering pH is a constant battle. Do you think the following will work?

    All my F&V are watered by surface dripline via buried 13 & 19 mm poly tube. If I filled a fine mesh in-line filter with a thin rod(s) of rusting steel would the aqueous acidic iron be enough to maintain a lower than neutral soil pH?

    As the soil is iron deficient this idea has a noted bonus.

    What do you think? Any comments most welcome, cheers, porgey.

    #512146
    FozzieFozzie
    Member

    You probably know this already, but iron gets locked up with alkaline soils I believe, so if you acidify the soil in any way, then the iron should become available for plants to use. Which is a benefit of acidify the soils.

    Could be interesting results trying to put some rusting steel into your filter though… as long as it doesn’t release too much iron for the plants and become harmful.

    ETA: be sure to let us know how you go with it! 🙂

    #512147
    IdunaIduna
    Member

    I have the same sort of problem, the PH sits around 7.75/8 if I don’t do anything. Adding lots of organic matter makes a good buffer but doesn’t fix the problem. Chicken manure is meant to be acidic so that helps but all I can say is add sulphur. But not a full ph point all at once go 0.25 to 0.5 per season to once a year and see if that helps. If your like me sitting on limestone I add it three times a year, beginning of spring, middle of summer and middle to late autumn. I only have trouble growing tomatoes, they end up with blossom end rot towards the end of the season.

    #512148
    porgeyporgey
    Member

    Fozzie post=327917 wrote: You probably know this already, but iron gets locked up with alkaline soils I believe, so if you acidify the soil in any way, then the iron should become available for plants to use. Which is a benefit of acidify the soils.

    Could be interesting results trying to put some rusting steel into your filter though… as long as it doesn’t release too much iron for the plants and become harmful.

    ETA: be sure to let us know how you go with it! 🙂

    My soil is pretty nutrient sparse so there wont be much iron to get locked up so this method will hopefully both acidify the soil and increase the iron content.

    The erratic & uncontrollable release of iron could be the biggest hurdle as I dont know the breakdown rate of iron. I might try granular sulphur as the release maybe more predictable & controlable. I am just wondering if its not easier just to dust sulphur on the bed & around the plants and keep the short lengths of rusting steel in the soil. I was just hoping this would be an easier, neater & safer way of acidifying.

    #512149
    porgeyporgey
    Member

    Iduna post=327921 wrote: I have the same sort of problem, the PH sits around 7.75/8 if I don’t do anything. Adding lots of organic matter makes a good buffer but doesn’t fix the problem. Chicken manure is meant to be acidic so that helps but all I can say is add sulphur. But not a full ph point all at once go 0.25 to 0.5 per season to once a year and see if that helps. If your like me sitting on limestone I add it three times a year, beginning of spring, middle of summer and middle to late autumn. I only have trouble growing tomatoes, they end up with blossom end rot towards the end of the season.

    Are you sure chook poo is acidic? Instinct tells me it should be but I heard it was alkaline. There is so much to learn about gardening I sometimes get mixed up. Maybe I was confusing it with potash from the fire.

    I may have to resort to buying some sulphur but I thought I would raise the iron rod idea as its completely free. A pack of Manutec sulphur is $8 but will last years I suspect and is cheaper than the 8 or so punnets of Blueberries & Strawberries I hope to get soon.

    I have had no problems with BER, lots of crushed eggshells in the compost.

    ETW; I just googled and fresh animal manures are alkaline but tend towards neutral as they age & compost.

    #512150
    SimoSimo
    Member

    I have heard that using pine needles as mulch will increase the acidity of soil and as they break down they will add organic matter.

    As for the rusty steel I don’t think it will work, for the iron molecules to get from the steel into the water and then into the soil it will need to rust off, rust is oxidised iron, oxidised iron molecules are already bonded to the oxygen molecules and are there for unavailiable for use by the plants. This is why plant iron suppliments are always sold as chelated iron. Chelation is a process where by the iron molecule is protected from oxidation until being used by the plant.

    See here for more info on how iron reacts with water http://www.lenntech.com/periodic/water/iron/iron-and-water.htm

    #512151
    rosiecandyrosiecandy
    Member

    Hi there. I have the same problem with very alkaline soils, ph8 which after 3 years I’ve got down to ph 7. Although during winter my place is also under water and I loose alot of plants to water logging.

    Over the years I have found the only thing that works for me is chelated iron and seasol watering around the base of plants once each month. Yes very time consuming. I also add sheep manure, blood and bone and sulphate of potash and rock minerals and I covere it with pea straw very thickly each year. A good handful of sulphur scattered around my plants as well, especially my blue berries,raspberries, younger berries and strawberries (the berries I have also added pine needles too) . Chicken manure is very alkaline so I put into compost bins and wait around 6-12mths to use it in the vegie garden.

    I hope this helps you out a bit, its been a slow process for me, but the berries have been so rewarding with bucket loads of fruit that I had to freeze. My kids got sick of them…..

    #512152
    porgeyporgey
    Member

    @Simo; Thanks Simo, I might try pine needles as there is a tree close by. I always resisted using them because as very little grows under pine trees I thought adding them to the garden may retard plant growth. Interesting about oxidised iron not being available to plants, back to square one. What is chelation?

    @rosicandy; Thanks rosiecandy, I will have to get some chelated iron. Maxicrop has a certified organic fish emulsion, Go Fish I think is the name, that is high in sulphur with a low pH so that is also a help. I did use Teabags and old loose tea around acid loving plants but have since discovered that the tannins they release have an inhibitory effect on plant growth. Such a seemingly simple pastime as gardening is can be amazingly complex, but of course fascinating and rewarding.

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