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Howdy, our soil is Bolar Clay Loam at 7.4pH. We want 6.5 pH. I tilled in 23lbs/1000sqft of Disper-Sul Pastille 97% sulfur, but the data sheet makes it clear that many weeks will be needed in order to lower pH. They are time release, and only work with moisture and over 70F. Additionally, it should be done twice a year.

Right now our pH is still at 7.2 only a slight improvement in 2 weeks.

In the meantime, I got a few lbs of "micronized" sulfur dust, suitable for dusting and spraying. Has anybody had good results with top dressing this, or working it into the starter soil for baby transplants? https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/p...ngicide-micronized-spray-or-dust?cm_vc=-10005
 

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You need to know what makes the soil so alkaline in the first place. If it is a large amount of calcium carbonate that occurs naturally in your locale, then it probably exists in quantities that will take an overwhelming tonnage of sulfur to convert, first, to sulfuric acid, to neutralize that.

Sulfur is an element, just like carbon, or oxygen, or hydrogen--it is resistant to combine with any other element to do any good for the soil. In time, it will--as your fact sheet says, but not by direct chemical reaction. Soil bacteria do the work, and they are slow.

The bag of micronized sulfur will be as fast or as slow as your soil bacteria can eat it, have babies, die off, the babies, now in larger numbers eat it, die off, and so on. Just because it is ground up finer has little or no effect, you would do just as well by using it for what it was intended--a fungicide. And you might be better off by choosing a fertilizer combination(with sulfur in the chemical ingredients).

This site helps explain it: https://web.extension.illinois.edu/cfiv/homeowners/080818.html

geo
 

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What is the pH of your water? If your water is alkaline anytime you use it to water your plantings you will be tipping the scale back toward alkaline.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I need to test our water pH. It's probably on the alkaline side, indeed. Regarding soil bacteria, it's probably rather low for now. I'll write up our garden soil project in a new thread.
 

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Our soil pH is up around the 8.0 range (as is our water) and I don't worry about it. Everything we grow does just fine, excepting azaleas and blueberries.

Nematodes are a much bigger problem than soil pH for us.
 

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Our soil pH is up around the 8.0 range (as is our water) and I don't worry about it. Everything we grow does just fine, excepting azaleas and blueberries.

Nematodes are a much bigger problem than soil pH for us.
Wow. We just bought some to produce compost in a bin. I think. They're worms, for sure.
Do you know about the relationship between pH and available Nitrogen?
 

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Wow. We just bought some to produce compost in a bin. I think. They're worms, for sure.
Do you know about the relationship between pH and available Nitrogen?
I honestly have not read up on pH and available nitrogen because I've not had any problems with it. The only real pH related problem I have had to deal with - and research what was going on - was with phosphorus uptake issues on my peppers if I plant too early or we have unseasonably cool weather. It generally corrects itself as the soil warms up. I need to be more patient in my pepper planting, but I never am. Haven't had any deficiency issues with any of my other edible garden plants.

On the worms, I think you're safe, any worms you buy should be good for your compost and soil. Nematodes are really tiny little worms which are usually found in sandy/sandy loam soil (I mean you'll usually find them in sand/sandy loam, but not all sand/sandy loam has them). I have root knot nematodes, and signs are that plants will be obviously struggling (usually my tomatoes, but sometimes they'll get my peppers pretty badly too) and when I uproot them, their roots are knotty and tangled instead of straight and wispy. They burrow into the roots and tangle/knot them so that they can't take up nutrients and water properly. Not fun.

But anyway, I don't worry about my soil's pH. Other than my impatience to plant peppers early, it really hasn't been a problem.
 

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I honestly have not read up on pH and available nitrogen because I've not had any problems with it. The only real pH related problem I have had to deal with - and research what was going on - was with phosphorus uptake issues on my peppers if I plant too early or we have unseasonably cool weather. It generally corrects itself as the soil warms up. I need to be more patient in my pepper planting, but I never am. Haven't had any deficiency issues with any of my other edible garden plants.
SNIP
Texas A&M Agrilife tested our soil for $28. It was revealing. We're low on Phosphorus with plenty of the other two. The fruit trees already in place showed signs of chlorosys. One of the coolest things about university extension programs is that you can get an expert on the phone pretty easily. He said, sure you have lots of Nitrogen and some Phosphorus (P) but they are bound up with Calcium due to your high 7.4pH. Huh? I started researching that and it's rather well known in the Texas Hill Country. Farmers who don't know spend a bunch on Nitrogen supplement, which has some toxicity, but commercial farmers tend to believe Big Ag and focus on N most of all. Instead one can lower the pH and get the N and P that is already there. So we're going for that approach. Might help your peppers too.
 

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Texas A&M Agrilife tested our soil for $28. It was revealing. We're low on Phosphorus with plenty of the other two. The fruit trees already in place showed signs of chlorosys. One of the coolest things about university extension programs is that you can get an expert on the phone pretty easily. He said, sure you have lots of Nitrogen and some Phosphorus (P) but they are bound up with Calcium due to your high 7.4pH. Huh? I started researching that and it's rather well known in the Texas Hill Country. Farmers who don't know spend a bunch on Nitrogen supplement, which has some toxicity, but commercial farmers tend to believe Big Ag and focus on N most of all. Instead one can lower the pH and get the N and P that is already there. So we're going for that approach. Might help your peppers too.
The peppers are really only a problem because I plant too early. It's a temperature thing too, some chemical reaction that affects whether certain things get tied up or are available at higher (and I think, much lower) pH. I'd easily and cheaply solve it if I just waited until...about now...to plant instead of being an idiot and thinking I can plant in March every year. Or added some black plastic until we got up to normal oven temperatures.

I don't think there's any way I could really do much about my pH either way, without constantly adding things or spending many arms and legs. As I mentioned, my water is around the 8.0 mark as well, so every time I irrigate I'm raising it back up (we only get rain really during the winter, pretty much from a couple of weeks ago until probably November we won't get any measurable precipitation so irrigation is the only water my plants get for months). And I really have no deficiency issues that aren't temperature dependent, healthy fruit trees and a very productive garden.

If you can get your pH down without constantly fiddling with it/adding things, and it solves problems you have, that would be wonderful. It's just fighting a losing battle for me, and since it only affects one thing I grow, and only for a very short time period - and only because I'm an idiot - it's just not worth it to me. Seriously zero adverse affects (that aren't me-related) due to my high pH.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I had a tip from another here to use old dark carpet. Lay it over your beds, with holes cut out for your starts. That would warm up your soil, given dark carpet, and spare your knees. We're trying it.

I had no idea SoCal water was so base. Lived there for a while and drank it...yuck.
 
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