soil lacking calcium

desrtgent(z8 NV)January 6, 2007

What would I add to my garden soil that would raise the level of calcium? Organic prefered

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High calcium lime in the fall. For a quicker hit liquid calcium nitrate.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2007 at 8:13PM
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brdldystlu(5b Mo)

I second what jackman said. Also egg shells but they take a long time to help out. I have also heard to pop a tums in the planting holes of calcium loving plants.
Why do you want to add calcium to your soil?

    Bookmark   January 6, 2007 at 8:47PM
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pablo_nh(z4/5 NH)

Are you sure that you need calcium? If it's blossom end rot- a calcium deficiency in the soil is a very rare cause. Not watering evenly (too dry, then too wet) is the cause in the vast majority of cases.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2007 at 8:54PM
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Plus some physiological (sp?) problems with the plant's ability to uptake and distribute the available calcium to the tomato, pepper of what ever fruit can be the cause of the problem. Root dammage from the unlevel moisture, pests or disease can cause some of it. That is assuming that we are talking about BER here.

In the majority of cases, blossom end rot goes away by its self as the plant matures and the weather stabilizes, if the gardener is not causing a lot of the problem.
Bill P.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2007 at 9:49PM
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Generally, if a soil test indicated a lack of calcium and that is the only way you will know of that lack, the soil test report would tell you what and how much. How do you know your soil needs calcium?

    Bookmark   January 7, 2007 at 7:34AM
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Yes, for every plant you put into the ground, you MUST get a soil test.

Silly notiion is it not.

If you feel your ground needs calcium, then this is the perfect time to add lime....horticulture the soil.
Gentle rains and freeze/thaw cycles help to break down the lime to how the ground can use it when the soil begins to worm up in the spring.

Some soils just naturally gain an acidness from all that we give it (peat moss, lawn fertilizer, garden sulfur etc etc) and most ground can be helped ---even somewhat--by the addition of lime to it.

But do read the label to the proper amount to use.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2007 at 2:15PM
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brdldystlu(5b Mo)

Wow you must be busy getting lots of tests. I have yet to get a test here. And I plant several hundred plants every year. I have also never had any major issues though. But I have also lived in this area all my life, know what worked for my grandparents, parents and myself. Maybe lucky, maybe not.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2007 at 3:20PM
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I just noticed that the OP is from Nevada and has a user name that hints at being in the desert. It's highly likely that the soil there is alkaline already, as it is in most of the intermountain west. There are exceptions, but most of the area has soil with high pH. Adding lime to a soil with high pH is not generally considered a good idea. I've never had a soil test done, but I wouldn't add lime to soil in the desert unless a soil test recommended it.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2007 at 3:25PM
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pablo_nh(z4/5 NH)

I've never had a soil test. My point was that there has been a lot of bad advice concerning BER that doesn't really help. That's based on the idea that it's a lack of calcium in the soil that causes it, when it is MUCH more often an inability for the plant to get calcium distributed to the fruit because of some other problem (usually involving watering).

Adding calcium, therefore, rarely cures BER.

Now- we don't even know if this person has BER, but that's the usual reason folks start asking about Ca.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2007 at 5:21PM
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fertilizersalesman(z6 PA)

The cheapest and easiest way to get calcium is to add lime. If you can use magnesium add dolomitic lime, if not use calcitic lime. If the soil pH is already high enough add gypsum instead.

Those of you who have never had a soil test and don't think you need it should get one anyway. And get a good extinsive test that includes micro nutrients. You might find that you are deficient in something and didn't know it, or are accumulating something and should cut back. Also, if you start to experience problems in the futre it is nice to have a record of what your soil looked like when it was working better. Makes it a lot easier to figure out what went wronge.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2007 at 5:42PM
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The major reason you have your soil tested is knowledge and it is not necessary to have soil tested for every plant, or even every year. I correspond with a gardener in San Dieago, Ca. with clay soil that is very alkaline because of the low rain fall they get, but he needs to periodically add dolomitic limestone to his soil because of the need to increase the levels of magnesium which drops his soils pH along with the oprganic matter he adds.
So, a good, reliable soil test, periodically, is needed by every gardener so that gardener has knowledge of what is happening with that soil and will help answer the question "is what I am doing helping the soil or not?"

    Bookmark   January 8, 2007 at 7:31AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

It's too bad that our original poster will probably never get back to us about the situation with his soil. When he requested ideas on how to add calcium, but did not mention that he need to raise the pH, that rang bells for me.

Adding a liming product would certainly NOT be the correct perscription for low lime, high pH soils.

Anyway, since we are just theorizing (not knowing the facts), what about calcium sulphate (gypsum) in an instance such as that?

    Bookmark   January 8, 2007 at 10:25AM
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fertilizersalesman(z6 PA)


Gypsum is very commonly used as a calcium source.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2007 at 1:01PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I know that, and a good one. In a case where the soil is lacking in calcium yet the pH is already quite high, would not gypsum be the best source of calcium to use?

That's the point I'm trying to make. ;-)

    Bookmark   January 8, 2007 at 2:17PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

I seriously doubt that Nevada soil needs calcium. Generally, it's a low rainfall region. Thus plenty of calcium still in the soil.

The place to locate facts about the original poster's soil is his/her county's Extension Service office. Likely they have a Master Gardener Help line where answers can be obtained.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2007 at 7:48PM
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Gypsum can indeed help a soil that is heavily weighted in either direction. It can help lower a high alkaline soil, and it can raise a low acid condition.

But it is not recommended where the soil is practically neutral.
If the O.P. wishes to add lime....for whatever reason he has chosen for....horticulture lime is the preferred way.

Now not saying a soil test is not a good thing to keep in mind...if one figures his/her soil needs or wishes to have some kind of 'down-the-road' notation about what his soil used to be...but generally, most...I would hazard a guess...gardeners trust in what they have done before, what they have done recently, and what they figure to do next.

If the plant they have is like the plant they plan on putting in, then they trust it will do as good and go ahead and put it into the ground.

Lime is a ...let's call it...a general tonic...used in spring.
We know we have added in past years lots of high nitrogen fertilizers...either on the lawn or around our evergreens.
Over time lawns et al...can take on a high acidness--without disturbing 99% of our plants.
Plants adapt to what they are given....thus a plant such as iris, or peony, or clematis....liking an alkaline soil, can adapt to a soil that is neutral or slightly acid...and show no ill effects.
Same goes for lawns.....most lawns..unless they are growing in areas where the soil is heavily weighted to one or the other, as having been fed nitrogen fertilizers year after year, can benefit by giving it some lime to give it a more balanced pH.
This is not to say..."how does one know whether its high or not" again, we trust the lawn will tell us if there's anything amiss...and generally, we'll cross that bridge if and when we have to.

Brd....if your comment was directed at my suggestion that a soil test be done before planting every plant...
it was a rhetorical comment of my own on someone else's comment.
A rhetorical comment or question is one that is taken to signify an answer is not needed nor asked for.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2007 at 8:46PM
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Well here is another ? from me. How well does the plant take up calcium from gypsum? If not very well then can one make a liquid out of the gypsum? Would that help in anyway?

    Bookmark   January 9, 2007 at 9:22AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

jeannie, you appear to be quite confused about how gypsum works in the soil. It does not lower or raise pH values appreciably. And it IS recommended when your soil needs calcium OR you are growing an annual crop with a very high calcium requirement and you do not wish to change the pH by adding lime.

jackman, if you are looking for a quick fix then the usual liming materials or gypsum are not for you. It can take months for gypsum or dolomite or ag. lime to break down into elemental form. But gypsum isn't any slower than the other commonly used products. It's generally a wise thing to remember that any lime application (unless you are using one of the fast-acting products) will most benefit next year's crop!

There isn't a liquid formulation of gypsum, at least not that I know of. Is there, fertilizersalesman?

Here is a link that might be useful: A little information about liming sources

    Bookmark   January 9, 2007 at 1:13PM
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rhizo I used high calcium lime back in Nov. I just believe that plants take a lot more calcium than most people think. What I have read on the subject is the 2 most important are calcium and phosphate. They are the most that plant use in the health of the plant.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2007 at 4:22PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Actually, though calcium is absolutely essential for the healthy growth and development of plants, they don't need very much of it to get the job done. It tends to stick around in the soil for a long time, which is why (if you use a 'normal' liming product) you don't have to apply it more than once a year. A plant will not take up anymore than it needs; surplus is something of a waste.

Many parts of the country have soils with plenty of natural calcium and never require liming. I lived in such an area for 22 years!

Phosphorus contamination is becoming more and more of a pollution problem as widespread use of 'starter' fertilizers has become rampant. In truth, soils should be tested to see if P is even required before adding any to your gardens. Again, it is an essential element but soil excesses become pollution. Many soils have ample amounts of P without fertilization.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2007 at 4:51PM
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My info comes from International Ag Labs,Inc.
A biological approach to agriculture.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2007 at 5:17PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

You should absolutely follow the manufacturer's directions when using specialty products.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2007 at 10:30AM
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Want to know what one of the greatest fallacies in all of modern gardening?

It has to do with phosphorus.

We use high analysis water soluble fertilizer like it's so much bottled water and blame any run-off on large ag operations and on starter fertilizers. And we defend our claims under the aegis of protecting the environment. What was it that use to be said about patriotism?

Cheasepeake Bay blames it's problems on agricultural run-off, yet the airports use urea to clear snow. Yeppers, blame the farmer. He's just a dumb yokel wearing a straw hat chewing on a foxtail. One of these days, we're gonna wake up and realize all of our food is imported and we're gonna wonder why no one wants to farm here.

To many times, we choose to believe. I know very smart people that when put in church absolutely believe whatever the preacher has to say, yet in every other way, they are critical, testing what they are told, putting it to the test every day.

In many ways, we have replaced spiritual religin with political belief or environmental concern or (insert special interest here). I'm pretty well convinced we could renew child sacrifice if we sold it hard enough under the eagis of environmental concern. If only Swift where alive today, what kind of "Modest Proposal" would he pen?

Okay, perhaps that's a bit extreme. But we have lost a great deal of common sense. Common sense doesn't make a fabulous soundbite. It doesn't raise the blood, fire the emotions, make decent people say awful things about others who don't share their views.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2007 at 12:20PM
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pablo_nh(z4/5 NH)

"Cheasepeake Bay blames it's problems on agricultural run-off, yet the airports use urea to clear snow. "

Are you still talking about phosphate? Urea contains zero phosphate.

I agree that small-users are likely large contributors to fertilizer runoff. Large scale producers may use more, but are less likely to overdose as a home user for reasons of simple economic scale.

-pH- dumb NH yokel

    Bookmark   January 10, 2007 at 1:56PM
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Hey, here's a thought. If the concern is raising the calcium level without changing the Ph, then why not add a balanced amount of both horticultural lime AND garden sulfur?

    Bookmark   February 7, 2008 at 10:26PM
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crabjoe(z7 MD)

Cheasepeake Bay blames it's problems on agricultural run-off, yet the airports use urea to clear snow.

Just how many airports, compared to farm land, is there in the Chesapeake watershed? Just how many snow events do we get here in MD, that that much Urea is being used? Yes we get flows from as far away as NY, but come on, it mostly coming from rural areas.

Take a look at this:

It's Nitrogen, but look at the map of MD's portion. If you look, you'll see most of the nitrogen run off coming from areas of farm land. Here's another tidbit of news. The Choptank river is MD's 2nd most polluted river, and it's in a rural area of farms (ag and chicken).

    Bookmark   February 7, 2008 at 11:25PM
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where can u get a soil test done n how exactly do they do it? also, can calcium carbonate be added to the soil? chalk is an example of this. so can crushed chalk benefit the plant by planting it in the soil?

    Bookmark   February 22, 2008 at 11:17AM
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Belgianpup(Wa/Zone 7b)

For a good complete soil test, contact Kinsey Agricultural Services. They do tests, they have the rep of doing them right, and they will tell you what you need to do to correct your nutrient and mineral levels.

If you want to understand more on how soil works, read Hands-On Agronomy by Neal Kinsey, or watch his DVD of the same name, although it's a more simplified version. I am not the most brilliant person, but the info in the book seems to make so much SENSE!

I was just watching his DVD last night, with my soil test (done locally) in hand, and I am not really happy with what my local outfit is telling me to do. After reading Kinsey's book, some of the recommendations on my soil test are raising big questions. So I'm going to send samples of my soil to the Kinsey place and see what they say.


Here is a link that might be useful: Kinsey Agricultural Services

    Bookmark   February 24, 2008 at 1:24AM
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researcher 11, where to get a good, reliable soil test depends on where you are. Many of the state universities, the land grant colleges of old, the state Agricultural schools, have the USDA Cooperative Extension Service offices in each county and they can help guide you to a good, reliable test lab if they do not do the soil testing themselves. Click on the link below and you will be able to find your state, provided you are in the USA, and clicking on that state (you may need to go to the text only list) will get you the county offices for your state.

Here is a link that might be useful: CES offices

    Bookmark   February 24, 2008 at 7:11AM
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