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How do I make a large correction with plants already growing?

 
pollinator
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So this is my first year growing a real, in the ground garden using native soil and some stuff I could add for free, some manure, some cover crops and the first run out of a brand-new worm bin. I just got my soil tested, I know it should have been done sooner but that didn't happen...

Here's the rub: My soil is A) at a pH of 5.5 and B) very low in phosphorus at 10 ppm. Can I correct these problems rapidly and in a non-invasive manner to the plants that are already growing (some better than others, obviously)? I could really use a bit of wisdom here. I am 100% sure permies won't let me down!

Thanks!

P.S. It is also low to just below adequate in boron, zinc and manganese so we can call that little C) i suppose. I am just stoked to see that in all other tested categories it was in good shape!

 
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I think folks often add lime to raise the pH of gardens.  I'm guessing you could do that carefully around existing plants.

I have way too much phosphorus in my area so I'm not sure how to raise it up.  But a bit of googling tells me that having proper pH levels helps with phosphorus uptake.  And bone meal is a fast acting source (per the interwebs).  Not sure where to get organic bone meal but I'm sure there's a way.  It also lists rock phosphate as a slower acting option, along with compost, manure and clay.  

Good luck!
 
pollinator
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I would recommend compost tea all over and liquid gold (diluted) in the soil.
 
pollinator
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For zinc and manganese you can get their respective sulfates at most.garden centers, and boron can be added through boric acid. For phosphorous bone meal or high phosphorous Guanos are usually easily available. A new to me product I have seen around but not tried is a dairy manure that is anaerobically fermented and people have been giving it rave reviews for fast acting phos additions.

I would personally wait on worrying about pH until you've observed how big of a deal it really is. It seems better to worry about pH stuff over winter
 
Dan Fish
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Thanks folks.

I have been trying to do some research myself. I was excited to see that my magnesium and calcium were "very high" in my soil. Then I learned that to increase pH with lime will almost certainly add one or both of these and that too much of them can cause all kinda bad for my plants. Lame. I know for sure I need more organic matter and that's supposed to help. Lot's of shoveling this winter it seems. I wanted to bury some logs in there anyway...

Anyways I will take some of this advice and run with it. Especially the part about waiting til winter to mess with pH. I have some Dr. Earth 3-9-4 organic fertilizer. Should I do a "tea" with it? The bag has instructions for mixing a cup per gallon for 24 hours and then pour it on. Would this maybe get me through this year and then I can dig in some rock phosphate or bone meal or whatever's clever after the season? I have hit this garden with an aerated compost tea 3 weeks ago so my organisms outta be pretty ok.   I  took the sample and then spread the AACT because it said to send dry dirt.

Thanks so much everybody!
 
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My first garden after we moved to this property was planted in caliche. Sure, they were just blanket flowers and they did just fine.

Our garden soil was made from bagged soil and bagged compost or manure.

Our second-year, we harvested the leaf mold that had been accumulating under our oak trees.  We probably harvested at least 10 of the big black bags.

We have never had our soil tested.  Dear hubby did the thing in a mason jar.

Our vegetable garden does fine as long as the critters leave it alone.

I like everyone's suggestion to wait until winter.

As long as plants seem happy, they don't need much.
 
s. lowe
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Dan Fish wrote:Thanks folks.

I have been trying to do some research myself. I was excited to see that my magnesium and calcium were "very high" in my soil. Then I learned that to increase pH with lime will almost certainly add one or both of these and that too much of them can cause all kinda bad for my plants. Lame. I know for sure I need more organic matter and that's supposed to help. Lot's of shoveling this winter it seems. I wanted to bury some logs in there anyway...

Anyways I will take some of this advice and run with it. Especially the part about waiting til winter to mess with pH. I have some Dr. Earth 3-9-4 organic fertilizer. Should I do a "tea" with it? The bag has instructions for mixing a cup per gallon for 24 hours and then pour it on. Would this maybe get me through this year and then I can dig in some rock phosphate or bone meal or whatever's clever after the season? I have hit this garden with an aerated compost tea 3 weeks ago so my organisms outta be pretty ok.   I  took the sample and then spread the AACT because it said to send dry dirt.

Thanks so much everybody!



That Dr earth fertilizer will.be plenty to get you through the year. Honestly, its really important to remember that the info about pH and mineral requirements largely comes from, and is designed for, mineral salt fertility systems. If you work to sterilize your soil and take over all mineral supply duties then those commonly quoted numbers have meaning. If, instead, you seek to develop biologically rich soil then most of the "important" numbers don't really apply. Gary Zimmer, a man with decades of farming experience at serious scale, says "biology trumps chemistry every time" and the last time I saw him speak he said that he no longer really worries about pH because he has seen success farming in soild from pH 5 to pH 8, as long as they had the soil biology going.

Phosphorus too, is mostly a matter of bioavailability rather than its presence. In biologically active soil you don't often need to add much phosphorus. It seems to be mostly trace minerals that hold up biological gardeners as sometimes they just aren't present in a regions geology
 
gardener & hugelmaster
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Compost is somewhat of a ph buffer so I would keep adding that. I use wood ashes to help with our acidic soils. That also adds some trace minerals. Using some atzomite &/or sea salt also adds trace minerals. I would be cautious about making large corrections with plants already growing.

Here is Dr. Redhawk's excellent soil series. In case you want info from an expert. Much more info!!!
 
pollinator
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Birds are major phosphorus transporters in many ecosystems, so their manure would be helpful. Long term consider providing bird habitat. In the short run some seabird and bat guanos are great tea additives. For your bioavailability, I’d make a tea with the above, some of the best compost you can find, worm castings, kelp, and oats or barley for microbe food. This will make any nutrients already there more usable for plants and add a little bit of everything plants need.
 
Dan Fish
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Thanks again all,

I feel a lot better now. Honestly before I planted I read around the forums and saw most of this advice but then when I started growing my own food it was kinda of a freak out moment hahaha. Thanks to everyone for reassuring me that "biology trumps chemistry" that is such a great summation. And how can I forget Dr Redhawks series? I read about half of it, especially the clay stuff, before I started. I guess it's time to finish it up!

Happy Friday!!!

Dan
 
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