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safe, efficient, pH raisers

 
Steve Nicolini
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What are the top 5 things to throw into your soil to raise the pH?  I know I could get some limestone or ash and they would help.  But when the next heavy rain comes, will all that work be washed away.  Are there perennials that would consistently neutralize the pH? 
 
paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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Since you are in an acidic area, I would think that comfrey would help.  It has a deep tap root and is known as a calcium accumulator.  Calcium is your primary source for raising ph. 

But ...  without any real knowledge, I would guess that a whole field of comfrey would probably raise ph about 0.2.  And then if all the comfrey died, then it would go back to whatever it was.    But this is just a wild guess. 

 
Susan Monroe
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
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Dolomite lime would probably be your best choice.  In areas of high rainfall, both calcium and magnesium tend to be in short supply, and dolomite lime will help to replace both.  Get a soil test and see what it suggests. Overliming is no better than not enough.

Get Neal Kinsey's video (it's in the library system) titled "Hands-On Agronomy" -- interesting and informative.

But raising your pH is not the most important thing to do for your soil.  You need to have the right amount of calcium, magnesium, sulfur, sodium, boron, molybdenum, copper, manganese, zinc and trace minerals.  Too much of anything will cause a shortage of something else.

When your soil is minerally balanced, your pH will fall into place.

By the way, did you know that there appears to be a correlation between low soil calcium and livestock progeny that turn out male?  Apparently, the low calcium level in the soil creates pasture that is also low in calcium, and when the livestock eat it, they end up with a calcium deficiency. This appears to trigger something in the developing embryo that causes it to be male.  This would actually make sense, for if the food supply was defective, Mother Nature wouldn't want to produce a bunch of females that would be reproducing and putting more stress on the food supply.

Sue
 
Leah Sattler
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that is a neat tidbit sue! I have my young breeding stock (goats) on free choice alfalfa which is high in calcium.  The bred adults are just on grass hay now. Iwill make it a point to note teh male/female birth ratios between them. it has been shown that in wild horses females are more likely to be conceived in years that are poor than in years of abundance. there is an interesting evolutionary hypothosis regarding it and the probability of reproduction between the sexes and the gamble of prediction which one is more likely to pass on genes in different enviroments. it could have much to do with nutrients though.
 
Dave Boehnlein
Posts: 294
Location: Orcas Island, WA
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Unfortunately, I'm not as savvy as I wish I were regarding soil amendments. I agree with Sue that a good place to start would be getting a soil test done. I use A&L Labs. A micro-nutrient analysis only costs about $16.50 and you can collect the sample yourself. Their website is http://allabs.com. When you get the test done you can also request amendment recommendations for two specific crops (which can help you figure out what to add for the type of thing you wish to grow.

I have attached a document on how to interpret the soil test results. You can download a document on how to collect soil samples here: http://allabs.com/publications/soil_handbook.htm.

Good luck!

Dave
Filename: soil test reading.pdf
Description:
File size: 38 Kbytes
[Download soil test reading.pdf] Download Attachment
 
Susan Monroe
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Location: Western WA
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Whatever lab you use, don't try to use recommendations and advice from one on results from another.  There are apparently lots of methods to get results, and they aren't interchangeable.

Sue
 
Mateo Chester
Posts: 148
Location: Zone 4b
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Is compost tea an option for you? Allowing the microbiology of the soil to regulate pH is also an option. Worm castings, if wet, are covered in a soluble form of calcium.
 
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