Sulphur in my water

nico_girl3(9a)January 29, 2012

I live out in the country on well water, which has sulphur. Will the sulphur water harm my vegetable and berry plants? Can I still grow organically given there is sulphur in the water?

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ralleia(z5 Omaha, NE)

I don't think that the sulfur will hurt the plants at all, particularly not the berries.

Elemental sulfur is actually an organic soil amendment used to acidify soil for growing blueberries. I scoured far and wide to find some last summer to get ready to plant my new blueberry bushes. Since my soil is a bit on the alkaline side, I'd LOVE your well water!

The only time I am really concerned about water is in container or indoor gardening, like growing in a covered greenhouse or indoors. With no rain to periodically dilute and wash things away, I worry about things like dissolved salts building up if I forget to turn the valves to shut off my water softener.

But in an outdoor garden and with the fact that sulfur already has a place in organic gardening, I wouldn't worry about your well water. :)

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 3:21PM
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Shouldn't harm the plants. But you may, at least in theory, have problem growing sweet onions -- sulfur compounds are what make onions hot. The famous "sweet onions" from places like Vidalia, Georgia, Maui, or places in upstate New York are grown in locations with low-sulfur soils, so I've read.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 4:12PM
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Does anyone know how I got about getting my soil tested? I'm interested in seeing if my soild is already acidic and whatnot.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 5:09PM
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Over time the sulfur will lower the soil pH. If it gets low enough to slow exchangeable aluminum then your soil will really crap out.

Sulfur is pretty low on the plant toxicity scale, but it's effect on pH can open the door for all kinds of plant problems.

You might want to check your soil pH every year or few years at the very least.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 5:52PM
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"If it gets low enough to slow exchangeable aluminum then your soil will really crap out."

...that should be "If it gets low enough to hasten exchangeable aluminum"...aka, putting a lot more Al into the soil solution rather than keeping it bound up or leeched out of the soil without enabling plant uptake.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 5:55PM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

My well water smells sulphery in the warm weather, but has had no effect on my garden at all. I've been at it about 10 years with no ill effects. Nancy

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 7:42PM
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You can order pH kits from many places, or even your local high school chemistry lab might be willing to give you a few litmus strips for free.

Otherwise, any lawn care store or nursery should carry testing kits, even if they're just the glorified "stick your dirt in an envelope and mail it to this address" style kits.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 1:00PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

I believe that there may be water treatment units for sulfur. If you have a pitless adapter on your well [extends above the surface for access], you may have a vented elbow to let out some of the sulfur gas.

I suspect that you don't have a lot of sulfur....a little probably smells a long way!

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 1:31PM
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