Win a copy of For the Love of Paw Paws this week in the Fruit Trees forum!
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • Anne Miller
  • paul wheaton
stewards:
  • Jocelyn Campbell
  • Mike Jay Haasl
  • Burra Maluca
garden masters:
  • James Freyr
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Steve Thorn
  • Greg Martin
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Dave Burton
  • Pearl Sutton

Neutralize Soil without pH testing?

 
Posts: 19
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've been "stealing" dirt from a local park for my balcony garden. The park is filled with pine trees which, I've come to learn, indicates very acidic soil. Is there any way to improve my soil pH and quality without formal testing?
 
pollinator
Posts: 4328
Location: Anjou ,France
240
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
You could try adding egg shells to try to make the soil less acidic  

David
 
gardener
Posts: 1870
Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
246
forest garden urban
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Compost, if you can find a source for it.  Balcony garden sounds like you wouldn't have the space for a tradition compost pile, but I think worm castings are also usually neutral PH. Plus both worm castings and compost are pretty much always a good idea.
 
master pollinator
Posts: 4046
918
transportation cat duck trees rabbit books chicken woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
A little wood ash from a friend that burns wood might work too. Heck I would send you some by mail if you really wanted it.

I do wonder why you cannot test the soil though? Its like $12 for a full soil report, and if you know someone in a chemistry lab or whatnot, might be able to get a couple of PH paper strips. There is a saying in farming, "It is just a guess unless you test". That applies no matter how big the soil is that you are working.
 
Posts: 66
Location: Western Kentucky - Zone 7
7
forest garden woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
An old fashion pH test you can do is to just wet the soil down and pour baking soda on it. Usually it will indicate the acidity based on the reaction so just add lime or ash loosely until it no longer reacts. You would be testing these in small combined samples. Also keep in mind you may want to keep it slightly acidic as most plants teeter on a 6.5-7.0 pH.
 
Posts: 330
Location: S. Ontario Canada
21
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Wait a sec. Don't assume pine trees automatically mean acidic soil.
I have property where the soil is very alkaline. Scots Pine are one of the pioneer trees moving in. Only after the first generation of them dies off is the soil more towards neutral.
 
gardener
Posts: 6280
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
1033
hugelkultur dog forest garden duck fish fungi hunting books chicken writing homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
You can use pH paper (litmus paper) or you can go to just about any nursery or big box store that sells plants and find a pH meter for under 30 dollars US, either of these will give you a good enough reading.
It is possible to "eye ball" pH but most likely you will be off just enough for plants to notice.

If you need to increase alkalinity (above 7.0 which is neutral) then you can use crushed up gypsum board usually easy to find where drywall is going up at construction sites, or lots of ground (crushed) sea shell or egg shells but it will take a lot of those two.
Or if you can find it agricultural lime.

If you need to decrease alkalinity (below 7.0) then you can use ground sulfur, or even diluted battery acid (which is sulfuric acid) will work when used very carefully as a water in amendment.
 
Good night. Drive safely. Here's a tiny ad for the road:
Food Forest Card Game - Game Forum
https://permies.com/t/61704/Food-Forest-Card-Game-Game
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!