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Need to raise pH quickly - best way?

Posted by ajsmama 5b (NW CT) (My Page) on
Sun, May 4, 14 at 11:01

Church is starting a community garden, I helped plant blueberries there yesterday, soil pH is 4.9. I had mentioned a few weeks ago about needing to raise the pH slightly (5.5 would be good) for raspberries and blackberries. Ideally, this would have been done last year, but wasn't. It still hasn't been done and we've got 5 TC blackberries and about 10 (5 each?) Nova and Latham raspberries in the fridge that need to be planted in the next few days (bare root).

I recommended just spreading a more neutral compost on the row, since the brambles are relatively shallow-rooted. Pelletized lime is another consideration (I know it won't raise pH in a matter of days, but would help over the course of the next couple of years). The main planner/gardener has wood ash available but I really don't like to put that down right before planting (not to mention it's very windy today, I don't know about tomorrow), and worry about someone overapplying it.

What would be the best thing to do to get these plants in the ground ASAP, I assume they will grow with pH of 4.9 but not the best, and I'd like to do what we can to get them off to best start. Suggestions for modifying the pH in the fall and coming years (given the shallow roots) would be welcome.

I've planted TC and (different varieties) raspberries before, in 2012, but used lots of compost mixed with our native (around 5.0) soil, haven't fertilized or amended since, some fruit in 2013, raspberries are spreading, successfully tip-rooted some TC, so I don't think they need it though could fertilize this year.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Need to raise pH quickly - best way?

Hydrated lime is quick, but you want to mix it very well with soil before exposing roots to it. I've heard it can scorch roots but I used to regularly with annuals before I "learned" of the "danger" in hort school. If it didn't hurt my tender annuals I can't see how it could possibly harm tough brambles.

Firewood ashes are also very quick- they run at about 70% the equivalent of lime (by weight) as I recall, but you should look it up- there is some variability but its close enough for jazz and gardening.

RE: Need to raise pH quickly - best way?

Rototilling wood ashes into the soil is your best bet.

RE: Need to raise pH quickly - best way?

I figured the pellets wouldn't burn the roots if they weren't mixed deep. I really don't like working with wood ash though they do work (prefer to give them a while to work too, not plant right away). They're so caustic to human skin - wouldn't they burn roots if plant right away?

I know, the soil should have been amended months ago.

RE: Need to raise pH quickly - best way?

I've never burned anything with wood ashes or hydrated lime.
If you are worried, you can place the plants in 2 gallon pots in a potting soil mix and plant them in the ground. They will be able to establish in the pots and easily send roots from the pots into the ground as they grow and with brambles the newer plants in following years will start outside of the pots and will in no way be restricted.

RE: Need to raise pH quickly - best way?

HM, that's a great idea! I have some pots, if they can buy potting soil and work on liming the (single) row they have rototilled.

The blueberries were planted in a long row too, whole thing rototilled but clumps of grass left in there, I pulled them out, shook off the roots, and threw the grass under some cardboard they had in another area (I hope they don't plan on planting this year). Kind of a waste to till a 60 ft row for 12 bare root blueberry bushes (and then have to mulch) when we could have just dug 12 holes and mowed the grass in between.

I'm coming a little late to the party, trying to help out. A little too late for planting (1 of the blueberries was starting to bud) but someone picked them up on Friday so have to plant them ASAP now instead of waiting for next year when the soil's been amended.

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