older Raised beds with HIGH Ph

calik8(sunset18)January 11, 2014

I have 3 raised beds in my front yard. Year after year I have had a great time showing/sharing with the neighborhood. I amended the soil every year before planting,

Last year nothing thrived. I bought a test kit and PH is around 8. So I guess that explained that.
I bought a box of EB Stone sulphur and mixed it in. Waited 5 months, no change.
I don't want to miss out on planting this year, but don't want do replace all that soil. Any ideas?

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some fresh organic matter to dissolve it. 1 lb of S should be plenty for three beds, but if there are no bacteria, the pH is not going down. At any rate, a lot of stuff grows in pH=8 dirt.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 6:43PM
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Adding sulfur to soil will eventually lower the pH, reliably, every time, no exceptions. True, there has to be some moisture present, and there have to be bacteria to accomplish this. The bacteria metabolize the sulfur, and as a result there are acids generated, and pH goes down. These bacteria are not scarce, they are pretty much everywhere. It might help if you threw a few handfuls of local garden dirt into your raised beds, just to be certain that there are soil bacteria in the mix. It is not too hard to measure soil pH, but some pH probes generate false readings. I have used both pH meters and indicator dye solutions to check soil pH. Both work OK, but pH meters have better resolution, so you can find the pH to within 0.05. With indicator dyes, the pH falls in a range of about plus/minus 0.2. In a warm climate, it takes about 6 months for an application of agricultural sulfur to lower pH significantly. In a cold climate, it can take 24 months for all of the sulfur to be metabolized, and converted to acid.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 12:19AM
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How large are those raised beds?
What soil type is in those raised beds?
What size, 1 pound, 2-1/2 pound, 5 pound, box of sulfur was that and was that enough to do what you wanted it to do?
What and how much to use to change a soils pH depends on the soil type, material used, and whether enough was used.
I have also found the home test kits to be very unreliable often giving the same reading when testing vinegar as they give when testing a baking soda solution.

Here is a link that might be useful: Changing soil pH

This post was edited by kimmsr on Mon, Jan 13, 14 at 7:17

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 6:16AM
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Add organic matter nitrogen and water it in well in the fall and it will take care of itself.

have a nice day

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 8:59PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

I would re test it by another method or by a lab, to make sure.

Then the sulfur treatment package should have instruction on how much to used it, based on the existing pH level.

Now is perhaps a good time to do it and let it activate until the spring plant out time. Changing pH (to my knowledge) requires time and it cannot happen overnight and in one shot. In other words, it might not be possible to do it with one application in one season. In this regard , adding/mixing in acid soil (compost or topsoil) can be a quicker way to do it.


    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 1:35AM
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toxcrusadr(Zone 6a - MO)

How was that tested? Home test kit, lab, etc.

Also, just curious, how did it get that high? Was lime part of your amendment regime?

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 1:17PM
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sand_mueller(z 7a, oklahoma)

I used to think mushroom compost was the cat's meow...found out that todays stuff has very high levels of potassium salts. researched this after seeing the salts form on the surface of the bedding plants I was growing. fully composted manures have perfect pH...manures which do not include the animal bedding left in place for any time become increasingly salty from the urine...from a failure to compost properly. There are many salty organic materials out there we have to be careful.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 5:40PM
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