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testing for pH and how to fix

 
pioneer
Posts: 50
Location: Douglas County, WI zone 4a 105 acres
10
fungi pig solar
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I did search but didn't find answer, so thanks for advice! Am confused.
Today I used home kit very carefully and come up with 7.5 - the highest range it shows. Heavy clay soil here, and the hay farmer across the road uses lime. The dairy farmer here might've used lime 20? years ago.
Garden was started a little late last year because of moving here. Used mostly lasagna/raised beds/containers with old hay, rotted manure, topsoil mix - no testing. All in all, I was happy with results - potatoes were incredible (added a little bone meal for them), and tomatoes good except for slugs. Totally organic practices except for "topsoil" - no more. Some things didn't thrive - mostly beans, but I think it was planting too closely and pest related.
Got a lot more beds prepared last Fall, and mixed up more soil amendments as mentioned for containers.
I think I'm on the right track, but am concerned that I might need to get more acid. I'M NOT SURE OF TEST RESULT, wondering if it could be more alkaline than test shows.
Snow is going away like crazy - I'll be able to get out there in a few days - should I add anything?
Thanks in advance for any advice or experiences ... wishing all of us BEST for 2020!

 
 
pollinator
Posts: 2721
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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forest garden solar
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A pH of 7.5 is fine don't add anything, just keep the carbon coming.
Carbon=mulch/woodship/straw,biochar/etc. I was going to say even sawdust with a rest year, I am not sure the parent wood wasn't pressure treated with heavy metals.

What I have observed is that the soillife will bring down the pH of the soil around the roots (think fermentation) and they will use their superior fungi root to extract minerals and trade with the trees for sugar.
 
Posts: 27
Location: Canadian Prairies - Zone 3b
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I'm in a higher pH area also, and at the upper tolerance level for most of my plants. It's a lot easier to raise soil pH than to lower it. I've been adding peat moss and elemental sulfur to planting rows (yeah, not very permie). I'm open to other approaches.

A question: if your soil test used water, did you use distilled water? Tap or well water has a lot of dissolved stuff that can skew the test results.

The biochar I make has a tiny amount of ash (crude method). Depending on where it will be used, I rinse it to avoid raising the soil pH. The rinse water is liquid gold for tolerant, heavy feeders like raspberries.
 
steward
Posts: 5022
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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My experience, is that it's much easier to change the plants that I grow than it is to lower the pH of the soil.

 
Mary Beth Alexander
pioneer
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Location: Douglas County, WI zone 4a 105 acres
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My test kit used no water, though I did think of needing distilled.
 
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