Lowering pH

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by dusty57, Feb 18, 2017.

  1. dusty57

    dusty57 New Member

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    Hello,
    I want to lower the pH of my soil, mainly for house plants and some tree seeds, sycamore, that I want to start indoors and plant outside. I don't want to use peat moss, what else would work. I am planting the sycamore seeds in coir pellet seed starters. I heard that vinegar diluted in water works and I was thinking of using that, water the plant and lower the pH at the same time. I want to test some of the seeds by trying to germinate them in wet sand or damp paper so I was wondering if the vinegar and water would be good for this also.

    Thanks
     
  2. Brian D Smith

    Brian D Smith New Member

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    The best way to lower the pH of soil is to add organic matter, i.e. compost.
    As vegetable material decomposes through microbial action, acid is released. Microbes use this acid to leach inorganic compounds off stone and sand, making organic compounds for plants to absorb. Plants use these compounds with the energy of photosynthesis to make sugar which then leaches out the roots and feeds the microbes. The the soil cycle is completed.

    If you want to supercharge the growth of your sycamore starts, mix a quart of biochar in the hole with a quart of compost.
     
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  3. dusty57

    dusty57 New Member

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    BRIAN D SMITH,

    Thanks for the info, I am definitely into the soil cycle and the plant cycle. Speaking of biochar, I was just think about some that I have and using it, funny enough for the sycamore plants and the oak trees I am starting from acorns I collected last fall. I have been reading that adding nitrogen will lower the pH so I am looking into that also.
     
  4. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    it is better to grow the plants in the type of soil they'll end up
    being transplanted into. to change the pH of a large area takes
    a lot of inputs and it isn't stable for most places either because
    the rain/climate and soils are geared towards what is already
    growing there.

    as mentioned above, adding organic materials will help, in a
    temperate climate that makes it easier to grow your own too and
    they will not rot away as fast as in a hotter and more humid place.

    as for the most basic element to add if you are going to amend is
    sulfur.
     
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  5. dusty57

    dusty57 New Member

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    SONGBIRD
    Yes, I was looking into that a lot yesterday. I found a bag at the store yesterday and was looking it over, I didn't buy it but that got me thinking. So I came home and looked up sulfur for plants and it looks like a good idea. I also found out while checking into all this what pH stands for, it stands for "power of Hydrogen", which means the amount of hydrogen ions in something as far as I read, something about how many hydrogen ions something can give-up or accept.
     
  6. Bryant RedHawk

    Bryant RedHawk Junior Member

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    Yes Dusty57, sulfur is the best and fastest way to acidify soils. pH stands for power of hydrogen or how many free hydrogen ions are present and can attach to another element or compound. A hydrogen ion carries a negative charge and can attach to positively charged atoms to form molecules such as water, hydrogen sulfide or sulfate (sulfides are formed by one sulfur atom and other atoms(SO4 is sulfide) Sulfur can combine with different atoms to form complex compounds too such as sulfuric acid (H2SO4). Sulfates contain 2 other atoms and 1 sulfur atom, hydrogen sulfate is H2S). If you can't find powdered sulfur you can use sulfuric acid as a watering/acidifying agent, but you need to dilute it quite a bit first (always pour acid into water not the other way around). Sulfuric acid can be found at automotive stores as battery rejuvenation concentrate. If you go to a chemical supply house you will get 12 molar (concentrated) that will need to be diluted at a rate of 10 ml H2SO4 to 1 L H2O. this will give you a weak enough acid to treat one cubic foot of soil or perhaps two, depending on the starting pH and the desired end pH.

    Redhawk
     
  7. dusty57

    dusty57 New Member

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  8. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    if you don't need the gypsum/calcium or clay this is likely a pretty expensive version
    of what you can get by the 50lb bag from a grain elevator (check with them on their
    powdered sulfur price too). IMO powdered sulfur is likely to be your least expensive
    and most useful option.

    note that gypsum is a buffering and soil conditioning agent which actually will not
    help with lowering pH nearly as much as you want.
     
  9. dusty57

    dusty57 New Member

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    I was just looking around for sulfur and one thing it came up saying is that sulfur is a fungicide. That's going to be a problem because I am using mycorrhizae in my containers for the roots. So if I put a fungicide in with the fungi that wouldn't work. I guess I need to find something else to use.
     
  10. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    mixing a small amount into potting soil will not make
    much difference in that regards. but that is why the
    first response was the best. use natural materials and
    let the fungi/life break it down and that is often perfectly
    acidic enough for woodland plants.
     
  11. dusty57

    dusty57 New Member

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    Thanks for all the help everyone.

    I am really looking into using the natural materials, how they work, why they work, how it all works together. Studying all this is half the fun. I have been reading the book "Teaming With Microbes". I just started the second half of the book where it talks about how these things work together and how to get the kind of soil you want. I had been looking more into the fungi/mycorrhizae part of it but now what look into the whole picture more. I am putting in my first garden this year and am looking forward to setting that up. I want to get a compost pile going so I can make some the stuff I want to use. It's all a lot of fun.
     
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  12. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    it certainly is more fun. i like that nature does work together to
    create even more habitat for life if you don't mess it up it will
    do a good job of taking care of itself.
     
  13. dusty57

    dusty57 New Member

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    Yes, that can be the tricky part. Observe, learn but don't over-think it.
     
  14. Terra

    Terra Moderator

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  15. dusty57

    dusty57 New Member

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    TERRA, thanks for the link.
     
  16. Brian D Smith

    Brian D Smith New Member

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    Dusty,
    Look up Dr. Elaine Ingham on YouTube. She has a Phd in Biology and Chemistry and could be considered the godmother of permaculture. She has posted a number of lectures on soil chemistry/biology that really connects it all.
     

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