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 Post subject: Soil ammendments
PostPosted: Thu Apr 04, 2013 9:59 am 
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I just had my soil tested and am overwhelmed with how to ammend our soil. We live in central Texas, just north of Austin. Our pH is 7.80 which needs to be reduced. We are high in Calcium and Magnesium. We need to add Phosphorous and Potassium, Sulfur, Sodium and some Iron. What products should we purchase?


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 Post subject: Re: Soil ammendments
PostPosted: Thu Apr 04, 2013 10:48 am 
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I UNDERSTAND COMPOST WILL LEVEL OUT PH FOR PLANT GROWTH......ALSO HUMIC ACID OR FULVIC ACID WILL SLOWLY CORRECT PH...LIKE KELP4LESS OR GOOGLE HUMIC OR AND FULVIC ACID...HOPE THIS GIVES YOU SOME IDEAS...ROY


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 Post subject: Re: Soil ammendments
PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 12:06 pm 
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First of all try to lower your stress. Sit down, settle in, breathe deeply and regularly, and relax. Ready? Because organic gardening is what I call "low hassle gardening." It really is. It is very hard to make a mistake. But as soon as you start trying to perfect the chemistry of the soil, then everything becomes 'high hassle gardening.' You can do that if you like, and still use organic fertilizer, but keep in mind the amendments needed to perfect the pH and micronutrients are chemicals.

Having said that, you do not need to adjust your pH. You need to adjust your expectations. Otherwise you will become very frustrated with your garden. One of Malcolm Beck's first rules of gardening is to grow plants adapted to your area. Your area is alkaline. It is alkaline about 300 feet deep from 100 miles east of you all the way to California, down to the Rio Grande, and up to Canada. You cannot apply enough sulfur to affect anything. So you need to relax and adapt to alkaline soil. At the very best the things you do and grow will adjust the pH of the top 1 inch of soil a little lower until the next drenching rain. The rain will wash away or neutralize any acidity and you are all the way back to pH of 8.0 or thereabouts.

First thing you need to realize is you will not be able to grow low pH loving plants. If you lived in Maine and had a favorite blueberry variety, you can't grow that here. There might be a blueberry that grows here but not those you remember from the East coast. You cannot even grow them in a pot full of acidic soil, because the water you use to water them is saturated with calcium. Once you get over any expectations of growing plants that have no business here, your stress level will drop.

I hesitate to use the word amendments when referring to what I find to be useful. Additives might be better. I think of amendments as something that gets tilled into the soil. You don't need to do that. In fact I believe anything to do with a rototiller is highly counterproductive. The things I find to be helpful are organic fertilizers (alfalfa pellets are my favorite), ordinary whole ground corn meal, and greensand. Here is a picture posted on another lawn forum. The grass is zoysia. It shows the effect of alfalfa pellets applied about a month before the picture was taken (June 2011).

Image

You can clearly see the improvement in color, density, and growth. Alfalfa is a good all around organic fertilizer you can get at any feed store. You want the rabbit chow size of pellet (about 1/4 inch). Apply at a minimum of 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet and a maximum of 40 pounds. If you apply the heavy dose first, prepare for some noticeable "aroma" as the material decomposes. Use at the lower rate (or even 10 pounds per 1,000) to get your soil microbes prepared.

Corn meal is what I use whenever I get a fungal disease on my lawn. Apply over the entire lawn at 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet. It takes a full 3 weeks to notice anything. Just to be safe it is good to apply a second dose at 3 weeks. This is a biological control, so the effect of the second dose is much more powerful than the first. Corn is also an organic fertilizer, so if you miss a spot, you'll know in 3 weeks.

Greensand is what you use after the drenching rains turn your lawn yellow. Drenching rains, as I mentioned above, will wash any acidity out of your soil. St Augustine is very sensitive to this and will become yellow after a deep, summer rain. The ONLY cure is greensand at 40 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Otherwise your lawn will remain yellow until next April.

Beyond that, I do not adjust/amend my soil. The fertilizer seems to do what is expected even if my micros and pH are off balance. No hassle.

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 Post subject: Re: Soil ammendments
PostPosted: Sun Dec 08, 2013 3:34 pm 
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A few comments if I may. If you have to buy an organic fertilizer, alfalfa pellets are about as good and sustainable a product you could use. They don't come from a confined feeding operation, and are produced without a lot of chemical nitrogen. Better yet, they really should be feed to local animals and their manure used instead. But we know that's not going to happen, right?

On the whole, your comments are right on. But rainwater is slightly acidic and tends to leach out basic cations such as calcium and potassium. The more rain, the more leaching and acid a soil becomes. Compare soils east and west of the Mississippi. Pedifers and Pedicals.

Organic matter, compost is slightly acidic and helps etch out cations for plant nutrition as it conditions the soil by feeding the life in the soil. No shampoos are soaps needed for water infiltration if the soil is alive.


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 Post subject: Re: Soil ammendments
PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2013 8:29 am 
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Exactly! Grow what is native to your area and that expects your soil conditions!

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 Post subject: Re: Soil ammendments
PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 2:28 pm 
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stonewall gardener wrote:
No shampoos are soaps needed for water infiltration if the soil is alive.


I agree 100%. The purpose of the shampoo is to allow moisture to penetrate deeper into the soil where the soil is dead. Once it becomes moist, the beneficial fungi move in. Once they are alive and thriving, then "No shampoos are soaps needed for water infiltration if the soil is alive."

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