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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2007 2:42 pm 
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Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2007 4:17 pm
Posts: 9
Location: St. Amant,LOUISIANA
Hello to everyone here. I've been reading, but not a member for a while, but decided to take the plunge .:D

I've been gardening for years, but only organic gardening for about 6 months. I live in southern Louisiana, which is why I hesitated to join and ask a lot of questions, but I couldn't find any info in my area, so hopefully we can adapt Texas knowledge to Cajun country. I live in between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, right on the line between zones 8 and 9. Hot, humid, and rainy.

Here's my question.

I garden in raised beds; due to the excess rain we get they drain the best, and you don't have the weed problems. I took 6 months to build up my soil using compost (I have Capt'n CompostAL's book), well rotted manure, peat moss, and most of the things listed in the Dirt Doctor's recipe for potting soil.

I planted some muskmelons in one bed, and they did wonderfully. I planted some fall tomatoes and peppers that I raised from seed, and they didn't do very well. I also planted some marigolds as a companion planting, and they are doing great.

I brought 2 soil samples (I have currently 4 beds, and am building 4 more) up to the LSU AG center for testing. Everything came back high, including the PH. Here's the results:
______________Bed 1________ Bed 4
PH........................... 7.07.....................7.37
Phosph, ppm.......1406.00..............1867.00
Potassium, ppm.....843.00................811.00
Calcium................3086.00..............3444.00
Magnesium...........1661.00..............1150.00
Sodium.................. 250.20.................391.80
Sulfur....................... 81.60...................40.24
Copper...................... 2.15......................2.07
Zinc...........................76.70...................74.10

The test results tell me that everything is either high, very high, or excessive, but they don't tell me what to do about it, if anything.

They only one I know for sure I need to change is the Ph; and I think I need to lower it to about 6.25 or so, but I don't know how. Most everything I read tells how to raise the Ph with lime.

How do I lower the Ph on these 4 x 12' beds? Are any of those other numbers anything to worry about and change?

I have lots of other questions, like about planting my garlic this fall, growing onions from seed, growing potatoes in the south, etc. but I need to get my soil right first.

Thank you for all your help. :lol:


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2007 7:54 am 
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Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 10:45 am
Posts: 43
Location: dallas,TEXAS
Gypsum is the commonly used supplement for lowering soil pH. However it's something that must be used with caution (really not used at all) when you have soil with an already high level of calcium - gypsum is calcium sulfate.

You're going to have to explore the use of other sulfates to get the result you want. (When gypsum and other sulfates are mixed with water the molecules separate from each other. The sulfer is oxidized by soil bacteria forming sulfuric acid which lowers soil pH (although not long term)).

The other thing you'll need to take into consideration is your water supply - if your tap water is on the salty side then you've got that working against your efforts.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2007 10:57 pm 
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Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2007 4:17 pm
Posts: 9
Location: St. Amant,LOUISIANA
We get enough rain water here that I don't normally have to irrigate; we get 60+ inches a year. When I do, I use our well water, which is a 450' deep well. I can have it tested, but we have excellent water.

My parish agent (like a county agent) suggested I might try adding sulfur, but I have no idea how much of it, or of the gypsum you suggested.

They are 4' x 12' beds, that are 8" deep. Can anyone help me figure how much? I don't want to do anything to ruin the soil I've tried so diligently to build.


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