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a question about soil ph

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a question about soil ph

Post  jazzycat on 4/17/2013, 2:40 pm

Since different plants like different ph levels, how do you deal with this issue? I bought a meter that tests moisture and soil ph. The ph is way on the alkaline side near the tomatoes, and more acid away from them. I mixed the soil very well and it's been applied equally across the bed, so I don't get why it would measure differently. Does this really matter? Should I be concerned about this? Or will the mix just make up for it, having all the different composts in it?

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Re: a question about soil ph

Post  fiddleman on 4/17/2013, 4:31 pm

In my experience, unless the plant has a specific tolerance zone of pH levels, by that I mean won't grow at all unless within a tight range, then the plant will do well in a range of pH.

That said, I say if it has the right amount of sunlight (or shade), the proper amount of water, the right amount of nutrients, and the proper temperature, the pH is less important. Of course, it may perhaps do a bit better if was in the "perfect" pH, but if it is somewhat close, it will do just fine.

Plants have a wide range of acceptability because they want to grow and reproduce. There will be a theoretical range which is considered "perfect" but there is most definitely some acceptable range on either side.

There are conditions where if it isn't acid or base enough the plant may have difficulty gathering enough specific nutrients, but fortunately, the plants let you know they're not happy and with a bit of detective work, you can easily figure out what's wrong.

Don't get too hung up on any of this stuff, if you have placed good compost and follow Mel's advice for the proper amount of Compost, Peat, and Vermiculite, then if you've placed the garden in a good location, things will grow. The plants will have all the nutrients they need, now all you need to do is water, and harvest. It really is that easy.

A LOT of us still think in the old row garden mentality and try to bring that knowledge of fertilizers, weeding regimens, and other additives to the soil... but since we aren't using soil, all that knowledge is pretty much useless with this system (thankfully!). Sit back and don't worry too much, this system has allowed me more free time and still get that garden fresh taste!
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Re: a question about soil ph

Post  plantoid on 4/17/2013, 6:22 pm

Jazzy I suspect it is to do with you giving more water to the tomatoes and that they are drinking the nutrients like made thus lowering the acidity from the locality of the complex fine root system .

I seem to recall that this is your first time with ANSFG so the original mix of MM could well have been slightly low on acidity especially if some type of mushroom compost that had lime in it was used in your inital MM making.

If you have any reasonably good home made compost ready perhaps feed the area with it and gently work it in over the top inch or so or use a commercial tomato feed to ensure you get the right nutrients to the toms at the right stage of development.
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Re: a question about soil ph

Post  plantoid on 4/17/2013, 6:25 pm

@plantoid wrote:Jazzy I suspect it is to do with you giving more water to the tomatoes and that they are drinking the nutrients like made thus lowering the acidity from the locality of the complex fine root system .

I seem to recall that this is your first time with ANSFG so the original mix of MM could well have been slightly low on acidity especially if some type of mushroom compost that had lime in it was used in your inital MM making.
It could also be that the original MM you made was slightly higher in poorly composted wooddy materials than it should be ( common problem when using pre baged commercially produced compsted stuff )

If you have any reasonably good home made compost ready perhaps feed the area with it and gently work it in over the top inch or so or use a commercial tomato feed to ensure you get the right nutrients to the toms at the right stage of development.
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Re: a question about soil ph

Post  jazzycat on 4/17/2013, 6:36 pm

Thanks fiddleman! I wouldn't have even thought about it if the meter didn't have a gauge for that, so just for the heck of it I checked. And I believe that we probably messed things up and needed the science (about ph levels, etc.), because of the way we've been robbing the soil of nutrients for the last hundred years, due to our farming practices.


plantoid, I did add in some azomite, for mineral content, and one of the composts did have lime in it (it was mostly forest humus, with some bat guano and worm castings). One of the other composts had some mushroom in it.

I have some WormGold worm castings, sea minerals and Boggie Brew compost tea that I got (as free samples) when I ordered the inline water filter to clear out the chlorine from the water from Boogie Brew. I can use that. I was planning on doing it anyway in the next few days. I can go get some fish emulsion or something if it's necessary. I'm trying to stay organic, chemical-free and as veganic as possible.

I have heard that spreading used coffee grinds is really good for tomatoes. Would that help?

The plants seem to be happy and healthy. I've just always heard tomatoes are acid loving plants. Hence the question. Maybe I'm worried about nothing. In all the videos I've watched about gardening, never has anyone mentioned ph. I don't recall reading about it in the book either.


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Re: a question about soil ph

Post  jazzycat on 4/17/2013, 6:42 pm

plantoid, there was barely any woody material in any of the compost I got. A little, but no big pieces, and not much. I don't believe that is the problem. And as I said, it might not even be a problem. I just thought I would ask.

Tomorrow I will be meeting someone who makes good compost and offers it free to people who want to start gardening. It will be a good source for me in the future. We are doing something this weekend for Earth Day. And I started doing bokashi, and I have a full bucket that's been fermenting and needs to be buried. So I should have some homemade compost in about 2 weeks.

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Re: a question about soil ph

Post  camprn on 4/17/2013, 7:00 pm

pH requirement for this brandywine tomato is mildly acidic.

http://myfolia.com/plants/10-tomato-solanum-lycopersicum/varieties/29-brandywine

http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/understanding-ph

http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/soil/msg0323115116366.html

Best way to have an accurate reading of your growing mix pH is send it to a lab for analysis.

http://soiltest.umass.edu/sites/soiltest.umass.edu/files/forms/soilless-greenhouse-media/Soilless%20Greenhouse%20Media%20Sample%20Submission%20Form-editable.pdf

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Re: a question about soil ph

Post  plantoid on 4/17/2013, 7:21 pm

My books and a card out of a soil test kit show an acceptable pH of 5.5 (very acidic ) to 7.5 (alkaline ) for tomatoes . pH 6.0 + acid , pH 7.0 is classed as neutral .
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Re: a question about soil ph

Post  jazzycat on 4/17/2013, 7:57 pm

I don't even know if this is an accurate gauge. It was very inexpensive, and I really got it so I could check the moisture levels to make sure the self-watering bed/containers are working. Since it had that option on there, I just thought I would try it out.

Thanks for those links camprn. Good information. I think, since I'm not planting in the ground and I'm using quality mix ingredients, it should be OK.

Can anyone answer the "used coffee grinds" question? Are they good to add around the tomatoes? Should I make a "tea" mixture or just throw the grinds around the plants?

Thanks bunches!

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Re: a question about soil ph

Post  camprn on 4/17/2013, 8:08 pm

It would probably be better to simply incorporate them into your compost pile or feed them to the worms. Coffee grounds are of neutral pH and are considered green, a source of nitrogen.

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Re: a question about soil ph

Post  jazzycat on 4/17/2013, 8:58 pm

Good to know camprn. I've been putting them in the bokashi bucket. I guess I'll keep doing that.

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Re: a question about soil ph

Post  brainchasm on 4/18/2013, 1:06 am

IIRC, worms LOVE coffee grounds, so if you got worms in your compost pile, I'd say let them turn it into castings for you.

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