Organic Gardens/Lowering PH in Large Square Footage Area
I am doing a soil test for a customer for a 3,000 sq ft garden. IS this too large an area to lower the PH from 8.0 to 7.0 or 6.5. I do not want any shock to occur.
Thank you for your time.
In New York, a 3000 sq ft garden would be a public botanical garden. In Southern New Jersey, it would be a farm. In New Mexico, it would be the back yard.
You don't mention what state you're writing from. This is actually very important. Geography determines geology which dictates what your soil is made of -- which will explain WHY you have a high pH and WHAT -- IF ANYTHING -- you can do about it.
Lowering Soil pH is a slow, steady undertaking that requires patience and diligence. You don't just water the new pH into the Soil. This is chemistry. Science.
The common and easiest method of lowering pH is to AMEND soil with Elemental Sulfur (sold as "Flowers of Sulfur"). Some people use Iron Sulfate. But these don't work everywhere. Soil that was limed to lower pH cannot be transformed overnight into blueberry paradise.
Elemental Sulfur works by feeding bacteria that use the acidic Soil to oxidize Sulfides. Success depends on the right weather, Soil that is aerated and a good moisture level to keep friendly bacteria flourishing.
Peat Moss also presses pH downward.
The Soil test you contemplate is absolutely necessary. But you don't have to deplete your entire cache of testing chemicals to do a thorough job. Take samples from different parts of the garden, dry them thoroughly and:
1. Squeeze a few drops of kitchen Vinegar into each sample. If you hear or see it fizz, you'll know that the pH is higher than 7.5.
2. To a handful of MOIST Soil sprinkle Baking Soda over it. Fizzing means the pH is below 5.0.
Dusting "wettable" garden Sulfur is 90 percent Sulfur mixed with 10 percent Bentonite -- a type of clay from Wyoming that grips onto the water molecules and makes that mixture "wettable".
A complete soil test however will give you the most important information: What it's made of.
While you wait, plant Alfalfa or Wheatgrass and test again at the end of the season. Churn in the Alfalfa when you are ready to use the Soil. Sprinkle on a Microbes product according to manufacturer directions.
Some Soil CAN NEVER have a low pH. You MUST find out what it's made of. Shocking the Soil is not the issue here. To work, it will take time and data.