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Liming problem/question  RSS feed

 
                                    
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Hi everyone,

I have a liming question. Last year was my first year gardening since I was a kid. The soil started out with a pH of 5.5, I added the recommended amount of lime to get it to 6.5, but when I tested it recently prior to planting for this year, it came back at 8.0. So what did I do wrong? And how do I fix it?

The soil is a silt loam with about 1/3 sand, 2/3 silt, and only a negligible amount of clay. When I started last year, I measured the pH myself several times at 5.5, using a Nasco kit; this number was later confirmed by a professional soil test from the local state university.

I used Pro-Select Prill Limestone and followed the recommendations on the side of the bag. When the starting pH is 5.3-5.6, and the target pH is 6.3-6.5, these call for 65 lbs of CaCO3 per 1000 sq ft for sandy loam. (I have silt loam, but I followed the recommendations for sandy loam, which call for the lowest amounts of lime except for very sandy soils.) This works out to about 11 lbs of CaCO3 for my 175 sq ft of beds, or 13 lbs of prill limestone (which is 87% CaCO3). I actually added only 7.5 lbs, or a bit more than half the recommended amount.

The only other things that I added were ~1/2" of compost with a tested pH of 7.0, alfalfa meal, phosphate, and crushed granite. Additionally, I was just looking at a test of our well water from a couple of years ago, and its pH is 8.0 (has high levels of calcium, too).

So where did I go wrong? Is it possible that one season's worth of watering with pH 8.0 water could have affected the soil pH so much? Should I have made some allowance for the pH-altering effect of the other soil amendments? If so, how does one go about calculating that allowance? Any other ideas?

Many thanks,
permanoob
 
Paul Cereghino
gardener
Posts: 856
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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Are you confident in you sample?  How big of a sample did you take, how did you select the portion used for the test, how many tests did you do?  Were both samples dry?  Was the soil to liquid ratio constant?  A jump from 5.5 to 8 at your application rate doesn't sound accurate, and pH is not necessarily homogeneous throughout the soil.

The pH of soil solution is only a small fraction of overall acid/base balance in the soil compared to CEC and mineral reserves.  I am not confident that irrigation with pH 8 water could so quickly change your cation saturation in the soil, but it might affect your test results, since the test likely uses a water extraction of the soil, maybe if you took the sample after an irrigation--but I have no experience with hard groundwater.  None of your other ammendments suggest pH change to me. 

 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Granite soils are typically very high pH.  If your crushed granite was coarse (like sand), it would not have changed pH, but if it was finely ground (like flour), it certainly could have.
 
David Rogers
Posts: 25
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Why worry about pH? 

Instead, worry about the lack of calcium.  Get a CEC test and apply nutrients accordingly.

Read the Ideal Soil

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_1_14?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=the+ideal+soil&sprefix=the+ideal+soil

My blueberries grow well in a pH of 7.01.  They have the nutrients they need.

Dave Rogers
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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i agree with paul that maybe your sample was tainted with a glob of limed area that was thicker than the entire garden..

take samples from all over..combine them..well..and then test a sample of that.

I doubt if it will be a problem unless of course you are going to grow extremely acid loving plants..which won't do well with that high a level..like blueberries.

better to add less than too much though so be careful if you add any other ammendments, 175 sq ft is a very small garden area.
 
Al Loria
Posts: 395
Location: New York
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Wondering if the compost and alfalfa meal got the microbes working on balancing the soil, and the liming, as small as it was, just sent the pH over the top?

Paul's comments/suggestions are excellent and probably closer to what actually is going on, and should be done.



 
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