Can you be successful with tap water?

howelbama(7 NJ)July 25, 2011

My city tap comes out very alkaline, 8.4 plus...

I filter with carbon to remove and or reduce the chlorines and chloramines but I can not afford a high volume ro unit nor do I like how much water they waste.

I feel like the high mineral content of my water is causing the bulk of my gardening troubles.

Is there a cost effective way to use my tap between fertilizing and not create micro nutrient lock ups etc...

Ultimately I am going to catch rain water and use that but that is out of reach for me right now.

Any advice on using hard tap water successfully would be appreciated

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dickiefickle(5B Dousman,Wi.)

Need some more info......
What are your gardening problems?
What crops are you growing that have problems?
What is your planting medium ?
How often and with what do you fertilize ?
Have you experinced a prolonged heat wave ?

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 12:29AM
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howelbama(7 NJ)

I am mostly having trouble with my watermelon. I am also growing several varieties of tomatoes and peppers. They are doing much better than the melons.

I am using advanced nutrients. 3. Part fert at about 1/2 dose every week or so. All the plants are in a mix similar to mels mix but with more perlite than vermiculite.

I think the problems are from using the tap in between feedings. The ph is very high 8.2 plus after carbon filtration. I believe it is high in calcium though I have not requested a report from the water co yet. It is double carbon filtered so it should reduce most of the chloramines.

Should I try reducing the micro part of my fert mix?

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 2:35PM
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Why don't you try using vinegar or some other sort of product that will lower the pH of the solution every time you water>

It works wonders for mine since my tap water is also at 8.5.

Have you ever noticed that after a rain storm with heavy rain, your plants react very well? I would imagine that the pH of rain water is just right for mine anyway.

Have you ever looked around your neighborhood and or ask how their plants are doing?

Good luck and happy growing.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 2:45PM
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I've never had melons do well in a container. They demand a LOT of water and nutrients, and I've always imagined it would take a huge pot to house a single watermelon plant. If the other plants are doing substantially better, perhaps the container size is contributing to the issue?

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 8:12PM
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howelbama(7 NJ)


I think you may be right, as most of the other plants are doing well in the containers and are treated to equal conditions.
Should I cull the sickly watermelon vines in hopes the cantaloupe will still mature?

I have some melons in the ground and their foliage looks much better overall. However, they were put in late and are just beginning to flower so I am not counting on any keepers from them.

I do feel though that everything would do better with rainwater or r/o etc...

Vinegar is an interesting idea but how would I get it in to my drip lines in a cost effective way? I have time to hand fertilize as needed, but regular watering is automated as I'm usually at work when the containers most need it.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 12:14AM
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Hey Howelbama:

Most of my acid loving plants thrive with the regular use of vinegar.

I do know that most vegetables thrive in a range of 6.0 to 6.8 range.
I have never had to worry about tap water on mine, although definitely on my acid loving plants.

I would tend to think your problem is related to something else as Chiana brought up. That is the reason I suggested checking your neighbors plants out. They might be growing very well with your tap water readings.

But if you still want to incorporate something into your drip line, I hope someone will come along with a good idea. I have never watered this way.

Good luck and happy growing!


    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 11:06AM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

I recently talked with another member here about how high our ph in the city water is, and he recommended vinegar. Which is hard to do because the majority of my plants are in the ground, and it takes forever!

I have several plants that were yellowing horrible, but since the rains have started, and I haven't used city water in 2 weeks, my plants are greening up nice!

So I guess I need to get out with a can more often and use the vinegar!

How often do you fertilize? A little vinegar could be added at that time.

I paid $70 I believe for a rain barrel last summer at Lowes, and it has more than paid for it's self! 50 gal. I save soda bottles and milk jugs to store the water for later use. It fills faster than I can use it right now with our monsoons!

If you can't get a barrel, I would at least try and put some buckets out. You just can't beat the rain water!


    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 11:39AM
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There has been absolutely no rain here for the past several months (until today).

I have a couple of plants (palms) that absolutely will not tolerate tap water.

When I run the house air conditioner, the humidity run off drains into my laundry tub and I collect the water. Also, I use the water out of the dehumidifier bucket when I'm running it.

These have been working out well for me.


    Bookmark   July 28, 2011 at 10:01AM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

My tap water runs about 8. I've done vinegar experiments with 2 different pH drop test kits, and 2 different litmus papers. The best I can come up with is that I need to add a tablespoon of vinegar per gallon to my fertigation water. For my blueberries, I add 2 tablespoons/gal. I am using a 511 mix, and everything (except my watermelons) has exceeded expectations this year.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2011 at 1:23PM
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If you have an air conditioner, dehumidifier or heat pump you can collect the condensate which is the next best thing to rainwater. I have hard high pH well water myself. I collect rainwater in rainbarrels and the condensate from my ground source heatpump which actually collects about 5 gallons a day in hot weather. I use it to top up my rainbarrels during a drought. In my situation, condensate is 60ppm pH 5.5. Rainbarrel water is 30ppm pH 6.0. Plants love both.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2011 at 9:53AM
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howelbama(7 NJ)

Thanks for the tips and information everybody!

Ideally I would like to use rainwater both for cost and quality reasons, so that is the direction I will be heading in for the seasons to come.

Unfortunately we had a bit of a freak storm and hail did some serious damage to a lot of my plants. I will still be able to save and harvest some but the damage is slowly showing up with every day that has passed since the storm. I fear that disease and pests may begin to take over due to all of the wounds in the foliage etc...

So, next year will also involve more weather protection as well... Lol :)

    Bookmark   July 31, 2011 at 2:56PM
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