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what vegetables will grow in acidic soil?

Posted by never-give-up z5 (My Page) on
Sat, Apr 26, 08 at 9:53

I got a soils test last year to put in an organic garden. The test results were that I needed to apply 160 lbs of lime per 1000 sq. ft., but that I could only apply 125 lb/1000 sq ft in any one year. I put the 125 lbs in last fall and was hoping to plant some vegetables there this spring and put the rest of the lime on this fall.

What I would like to put in are: potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, peas, beans and onions and then anything else I can fit in. Do you think that these vegetables will grow in acidic soil? Any suggestions on these particular vegetable or any others that might do well will be greatly appreciated?


Follow-Up Postings:

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Re: what vegetables will grow in acidic soil?

Potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, peas, beans and onions will all grow in acidic soil. So will most garden plants.

While you're waiting to put more lime on the soil, I'd strongly suggest adding as much organic material as you can to the soil -- as compost, in lasagna beds, and/or in a fast-degrading mulch, such as last fall's tree leaves.

Soil pH is far, far less important when soil has a plentiful supply of organic materials in the root zone. Non-organic fertilizers tend to make pH more important, but if you're going organic, this shouldn't be a problem.

Check out the FAQs in the Soil, Compost and Mulch forum here for more information about improving the organic matter content of your soil. There's lots to learn there. :)

All the best,
-Patrick

Here is a link that might be useful: Soil, Compost and Mulch forum FAQs page


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RE: what vegetables will grow in acidic soil?

Potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, peas, beans and onions will all grow in acidic soil. So will most garden plants.

While you're waiting to put more lime on the soil, I'd strongly suggest adding as much organic material as you can to the soil -- as compost, in lasagna beds, and/or in a fast-degrading mulch, such as last fall's tree leaves.

Soil pH is far, far less important when soil has a plentiful supply of organic materials in the root zone. Non-organic fertilizers tend to make pH more important, but if you're going organic, this shouldn't be a problem.

Check out the FAQs in the Soil, Compost and Mulch forum here for more information about improving the organic matter content of your soil. There's lots to learn there. :)

All the best,
-Patrick

Here is a link that might be useful: SC&M FAQs


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oops

My apologies for the double posting. GW's server gave me an error message on the first try, so I posted it again.

cheers,
-Patrick


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RE: what vegetables will grow in acidic soil?

If you have room, maybe put in a few blueberry bushes, they like acidic soil ... as long as you've already got acidic soil.

Cheers,
Kyle


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RE: what vegetables will grow in acidic soil?

  • Posted by jean001 z8aPortland, OR (My Page) on
    Sat, Apr 26, 08 at 15:17

Just how acidic is your soil?


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RE: what vegetables will grow in acidic soil?

Thank you very much for your suggestions and the link madmagic. You are right there is some good information there.

Kyle thanks for your reply too. I started a blueberry patch last year on a side yard and hope to put some more in this year as well.

jean001 the test said that the soil ph was 5.2 before the first batch of lime last year. I am not sure what that much lime raised it to, but the test instructions have me shooting for 6.5 for the majority of the space with a reserve space left at 5.5 for potatoes and corn.

This is my first time trying to figure out one of these tests and what I know about all this stuff right now you could fit in a thimble, but I'm working on it.


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RE: what vegetables will grow in acidic soil?

Most all plants grow best with a soil pH in the 6.2 to 6.8 range because that is where most all soil nutrients are most readily available. A soil well endowed with organic matter will allow plants to grow in a wider pH range because that OM buffers the plants growing in that soil.
What else beside the lime was added to that soil?


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RE: what vegetables will grow in acidic soil?

We added well composted cow manure, soybean meal and rock phosphate. I think sul-po-mag went into this patch too. This section is the only place that has decent soil around our house.

I am hopeing to have some chopped leaves left, but we're putting in some lasagna beds down back and are having some trouble finding materials. A neighbor gave us some leaves with a lot of pine needles in them. I was hesitant to use them because of all the pine needles. Do you think it would be alright to use them on the lasagna beds kimmsr? Some things like that are hard to figure out as sources of information differ so much on their opinions.


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RE: what vegetables will grow in acidic soil?

If your soil is natively 5.2 and you planted blueberries, keep the lime well away from them. Blueberries and lime do not get along.

For this year I would think you could grow any veggy you wanted. My guess is that the lime recommendation you got raised the pH by a full point, so now 6.2 which is on the low end of fine for veggies. Raising or lowering the pH of a mineral soil is generally regarded as safe if it is not done by more than a full point per year.

I also agree with the others that increasing the organic content of that mineral soil will allow your plants to grow well in a wider pH range than they would with no organic matter. So, amend with some organic matter and plant away. You should have a successful year and if you don't I really doubt soil pH will be the limiting factor for you.


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RE: what vegetables will grow in acidic soil?

Pine needles are fine to use, they are just coated with a substance that keeps the bacteria from easily digesting them. There is a lot of good, solid research that shows that pine needles will not significantly change a soils pH while those that tend to support the myth will have none to support that position. I have used pine needles and Oak leaves in my planting beds, and compost piles, for many years and find that the soil pH of those beds today is in the 7.0 to 7.2 range from a general soil pH of 5.7 when I started here, and that is without adding any lime at all.


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RE: what vegetables will grow in acidic soil?

I just got some peas in before I got rained out. I really look forward to getting my hands in the soil. I am going to try some of Dick Raymond's wide rows mostly in this area as part of my experiments. I will definately follow your advice about adding organics and get planting.

The leaves with pine needles will be going in as well.

Thank you all for your time and advice. It is very much appreciated!


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Re: what vegetables will grow in acidic soil?

Ah, another Dick Raymond fan. :) Back in the early '80s I nearly memorized one of his books; don't think I've planted much of anything in rows since.

Wide-row raised beds have many advantages. The intense planting he advises can provide a living mulch to reduce evaporation and soil compaction from rainfall. Also cuts way down on weeding, and makes it easier when you do have to weed. And in my experience, yields per square foot also increase.

Good luck, Never-give-up. :)

All the best,
-Patrick


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RE: what vegetables will grow in acidic soil?

"Most all plants grow best with a soil pH in the 6.2 to 6.8 range because that is where most all soil nutrients are most readily available. A soil well endowed with organic matter will allow plants to grow in a wider pH range because that OM buffers the plants growing in that soil."

"I also agree with the others that increasing the organic content of that mineral soil will allow your plants to grow well in a wider pH range than they would with no organic matter."

The concern in low pH soils is not nutrient availability, it is aluminum toxicity. Compost will not alleviate this toxicity unless it actually raises the pH (which it may very well do depending on what was composted), if so it is not "allowing the plants to grow in a wider pH range" it is changing the pH.

Some vegetables that grow well down to pH 5.5:
Celery
Collards
Corn
Cucumbers
Eggplant
Endive
Kale
Onions
Parsley
Parsnips
Peppers
Potatoes
Pumpkins
Sweet potatoes
Turnips


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RE: what vegetables will grow in acidic soil?

I spent a bit of time wondering about ph and grouping plants that like the same things etc. It got a little too out of hand trying to organize it all. I finally just planted things and looked to see what did well where. (Like when I noticed that the soy beans did better where they had a bit of shade, this season I planted them along side sunflowers so that the sunflowers give them some shade.)

Don't get too worked up, just do what you can, it's supposed to be fun. Potatoes are a good one for either acidic or alkali soil since if you plant them right in the "perfect" range, they are more suseptable to scab.

Experiment and find what works well for you, keep things shuffled around some for rotation purposes and if you find things that don't work, then avoid doing that again in the future.

Other Plants I understand like acid soil include.
Strawberries and blueberries.
Most anything that happily grows in potting mix is usually already growing in something quite acid so your soil should not be that problematic. Plant away, you should be fine.
Peas and beans are the only one's I've heard don't like acid soil but I think you will be fine with those too unless you live in a peat bog.

Here is a link that might be useful: My garden


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RE: what vegetables will grow in acidic soil?

tclynx,

Although I pretty much agree with the theme your post, I am going to have to disagree with your potting mix comment. As I said in the post above aluminum toxicity is the real problem with acidic soils, not a lack of available nutrients. Most soil-less potting medias do not have much of anything in them because peat, bark, pearlite, vermiculite etc. are for all practical purposes inert. That is, there is no aluminum to become toxic al low pH levels and therefore are not representative of what is going to happen in real soil. Interestingly farmers growing crops in organic soils (peats, mucks) consider a pH of 5 to be pretty good, again because they are not faced with the aluminum problem that is encountered in mineral soils.


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RE: what vegetables will grow in acidic soil?

What is aluminum toxicity?


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RE: what vegetables will grow in acidic soil?

I was curious about the aluminum toxicity, and probably found the same link anyone else would, but figured I'd copy this bit here:

"We found aluminum inhibits calcium uptake almost immediately in aluminum-sensitive plants," Kochian notes.

Here is a link that might be useful: Understanding aluminum toxicity in plants - research of acid soils


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RE: what vegetables will grow in acidic soil?

In the link anubis pa gave us it says: While lime can be added to neutralize some of the acid it is hard to place it as deep as the roots can reach. If that is true how do you change the ph of the soil (or anything else that is needed)without deeply tilling?


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RE: what vegetables will grow in acidic soil?

Roots can go pretty darn deep. However the vast majority of roots are near the surface as are most other soil organisms. The typical strategy is to maintain good fertility in the plow layer (unpper 10 inches or so) because that is where the action is. There is very likely an advantage to liming subsoils, but is generally regarded as not worth the effort.


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RE: what vegetables will grow in acidic soil?

Thank you for your reply fertilizersalesman. I really look forward to planting and to seeing what happens.


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RE: what vegetables will grow in acidic soil?

Just an early follow up. Thanks again for the information you gave me to work this section of the garden. So far, so good. We have pole beans, 7 varieties of tomatoes, 5 varieties of peppers, 3 kinds of potato, 3 kinds of onion, carrots, a few winter and summer squash, and wide rows of peas planted in this section.

Our "gardens" are all quite amusing to family and neighbors. I am fairly certain that they think I have turned into some sort of mad scientist or have gone just a bit off my rocker. There is very little around this place right now that looks "normal" to the folks that drop by out of curiosity. Sometimes I have to look at it and just laugh myself because it really does look odd.

It is all about making do with what we have and trying to utilize every square inch possible to grow food.

The lasagna beds you folks helped me with last year are planted with rhubarb, winter squash, cucumbers, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower and seem to be doing well so far. I have never grown most of these plants, so have been researching my brains out.lol The plants in the cabbage family are covered with row cover which is something else no one uses around here and has caused a lot of questions.

We live in the sticks and the gardens around here are single rows like grampa did, so the wide rows have also raised some eye brows.

Then there are the truck loads of leaves, grass clippings and cardboard that I have scavenged that I have begun spreading all over the banking. I hope to eventually turn that into a raspberry patch.

The boxes down back of the house (made from oddly pieced together crap lumber scavenged from all over) are also planted using your help and information from last year. There are several varieties of zucchini, summer squash, garlic, spinach, swiss chard, bunching onions, beets and herbs in them so far.

Again with your help we now have a few blue berry bushes and an asparagus patch.

I can't wait to get up in the morning and look to see what has changed. Thanks everybody! Just going to keep on planting and learning.


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RE: what vegetables will grow in acidic soil?

[quote]Posted by fertilizersalesman z6 PA (My Page) on Mon, Apr 28, 08 at 12:42

"Most all plants grow best with a soil pH in the 6.2 to 6.8 range because that is where most all soil nutrients are most readily available. A soil well endowed with organic matter will allow plants to grow in a wider pH range because that OM buffers the plants growing in that soil."
"I also agree with the others that increasing the organic content of that mineral soil will allow your plants to grow well in a wider pH range than they would with no organic matter."

The concern in low pH soils is not nutrient availability, it is aluminum toxicity. Compost will not alleviate this toxicity unless it actually raises the pH (which it may very well do depending on what was composted), if so it is not "allowing the plants to grow in a wider pH range" it is changing the pH.

Some vegetables that grow well down to pH 5.5:

Kale
Potatoes
Pumpkins

[/quote]

Hi,

Im in a similar situation here as the original poster. I moved into a new house and the first couple years of growing stuff in the garden was amazing. But then productivity tailed off massively, for the past two years we had pretty much a total failure of crops. I attributed this to the fact the soild may have turned acidic as everything else was right. The lack of things growing in the soil of late probably leaving the soil even more prone to becoming acidified by the rain and having nutrient wash-out. I tested with an electronic meter which has been very inconistent but showed spots as low as 5.0 but majority around neutral.

It is very much planting season now here, and Im at a loss as what to plant after last years total crop failure. Squash-pumpkins are my favourite thing, but they failed completely to establish in the ground last year. So am wondering if they are really suitably for slighty acidic soil?

I have some more well rotted horse manure but am scared to apply in case it turns things more acidic.

I grw broccoli last year which were great to begin with but then lost all the leaves and became woody. So I suspect soil is too acidic to grow brassicas. I like Kale and would love to grow it but am worried that it just would not work.

I do not have access to buying lime, but can have very small wood fires in garden to collect wood ash. Would it be worth collecting some and applying it directly before planting something like kale or chinese cabbage?


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RE: what vegetables will grow in acidic soil?

Dick, I take it you are in the UK?

You don't say how many years have passed since the first excellent ones, but I rather doubt that your soil became acidic enough to cause very poor yields in just a few years. Especially as it apparently wasn't a problem at the start. I ask about where you are because I believe that most of the UK - especially southern england - does not often have high native acidity like most of eastern north america does. Over here it's a fairly safe bet that any new garden site will be fairly acidic, east of the missisippi or not in one of the prime river-bottoms.

I would consider other likely possibilities, such as you have exhausted the soil of fertility from heavy cropping without adding much compost and/or manure. Do you grow a lot of legumes?

Maybe never-give-up will return and tell us how things worked out.


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RE: what vegetables will grow in acidic soil?

What Fertilizersalesman was saying is that acidity is primarily a problem in mineral soils because aluminum ions are released from clay particles as acidity increases, which is the principle reason non-acclimated plants suffer when the pH is too low. Adding compost increases the soil's pH buffering capacity (its ability to absorb excess H+/OH- ions that are responsible for acidity.

@ never-give-up: use Gypsum to raise the pH of your subsoil...it is a great idea to do this once every 10 or 20 crop cycles in acidic soils

Another crop that likes acidic soil is strawberries


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