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Acquired crushed limestone - Now how much do I use?

 
kyle saunders
Posts: 44
Location: Sackville/Graywood, Nova Scotia
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(Hey, I used the search function and didn't find what I was looking for, not that I noticed at least.)

I am looking to green up the clearcut forest we're developing and I assume the exposed forest floor isn't the ideal soil for most plants you'd pick for a food garden/food forest. I am assuming this soil is poor because of an acidic soil composition. And I am assuming this less than ideal condition can be mended with powdered limestone.

Now, if everything I assumed is reasonable, my question is - how much do I add? Can there be too much added? Should I do some tests first or is it more of a benign procedure than I am thinking? I don't want to over do it, but I also don't want to do nothing and spend money on that. Looking to help the fruit trees we planted last year and to prep the soil for any we plant this year. Also lots of berry bushes and flowering perennials around as well.

Anyone have any thoughts on more passive antacid techniques with results? Will the soil balance on its own after time?? or is this limestuff really something worth doing?

Cheers
 
Meryt Helmer
Posts: 395
Location: west marin, bay area california. sandy loam, well drained, acidic soil and lots of shade
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if you have your soil tested by a lab they should then tell you how much to use and how often to use it. you need to have your soil tested to know though to be sure. otherwise you can add some and see what grows there and how it likes it and tweak it that way from trial and error but it may take much longer. I have found many plants do surprisingly well in acidic forest soil so you may find that the soil is ok as it is for many things. also the more you add compost tot he soil the more you will change it that way.
 
kyle saunders
Posts: 44
Location: Sackville/Graywood, Nova Scotia
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So, as long as we're not planting directly into the forest soil, always amending plantings with composts, we might not be too affected by the acidic soil?

It's lawncare product season and the subliminal 'you need to buy these things' is creeping into my head. A whirlpool of logic and superstition is floating around my head and I don't always know the best course of action.

Perhaps I will look into testing, as it would be a useful starting point. Just a standard PH test?

Thanks, MH. not a lot of growies around me to ask these questions
 
Meryt Helmer
Posts: 395
Location: west marin, bay area california. sandy loam, well drained, acidic soil and lots of shade
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I use lime in parts of my garden where I have plants that like alkaline soil or that really need neutral soil and I always use compost to amend soil when planting a perennial and for a lot of other plants. I do have good luck planting some things directly in acidic pine forest soil though. some seeds never seem to sprout or germinate and I am not certain if that is my soil ph or if something ate them all before they got going. I am just gardening for my family and not trying to produce lots of food fast so I play around. if I was trying to do a lot and do it fast I would go with professional testing which I think is not expensive at all but I have yet to get around to doing it.

 
kyle saunders
Posts: 44
Location: Sackville/Graywood, Nova Scotia
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I'm looking to be playing around for another few years before any sort of production mode kicks in. Maybe I'll play with the lime this year in some experimental beds. lots in this bed, little in this bed, none in this bed. always good to make some mistakes before asking questions.

Thanks again.

 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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hau, kyle,
Are you sure you have acidic soil through a soil test? What kind of trees were clear cut? Have you done a jar test to see just what type of soil you have? You might find that making mistakes ends up badly. Sure it's fun to experiment but a scientist already has a good understanding of what needs to be tried, before they start the experimentation.

Assumptions get more people into deep trouble than you can shake a log at.

If you are bound and determined to just stab at solutions, do so in small areas first (think of the label on any cleaning product, test on a small inconspicuous place first).
I've had to go in and fix land that people put down what they thought the land needed only to find that all they did was increase their problems.

If you have a soil pH of around 6.5 (what most forest floor actually test too) then adding lime will raise the pH towards 7.0 which is neutral and not so great for growing things. (it will also mean you will need to add sulfur and sulfates to get the pH back to where you started)
Most of your vegetables, trees, and ornamental plants prefer a pH in the 6.8-6.4 range (slightly acidic) Blueberries prefer a pH of 5.5 (more acidic than most other types of plants).

I would recommend taking some samples of your soil to the county extension service for testing. This will give you; the true pH, nutrient content and levels, recommendations of what to treat with and how much. all for around 15.00 per sample.
Knowledge is key to building great soil for growing what you intend to grow.

Once you have that soil test, there is a lot less guess work and more opportunity for success.
 
Meryt Helmer
Posts: 395
Location: west marin, bay area california. sandy loam, well drained, acidic soil and lots of shade
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I think you can also get a pretty good idea of soil ph based on what plants choose to grow there on their own. my property we had soil in one spot tested when my husband got his master gardener certificate and was taking those classes (it tested as 4.0) but I already knew about what the ph would probably be based on the plants growing in my back yard! the vast majority of wild plants here all love acidic soil!
 
Eric Hughes
Posts: 4
Location: North Carolina
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Soil test soil test soil test. Always should be the first thing you do. Its hard to compete with what a professional lab can tell you. It's been known that limestone will balance out an acidic soil but in a couple of years time the soil will return to its original state which then causes the gardener to want to lime their soil again...which is bad! Once your soil has been over limed it becomes to alkaline and it will not return to its original state causing the gardener to have to build on top of the soil with organic matter (compost). Best advice go with organic matter from the start. Spend your money wisely and go for the long term. Quick solutions are too good to be true and more importantly environmentally incorrect. Nature doesn't lime its soil. It builds on top of it. Mimic nature and make it work in your favor.

Good Luck! I hope your garden grows into a paradise

Eric Daniel Hughes
Student of Landscape Architecture
 
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