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south yorkshire, united kingdo
kgl96321
Nov 20, 2016 6:29 AM CST
i have a polly tunnel with soil and compost well rotted manure mixed inti bed.
the bed is 3 ft high, 6 ft long 3 ft high.
the soil tests results show from this raised bed alkaline readings of 8 ph to 9-ph.
i am told that adding flower of elxir sulphur will lower ph values.
but i amm unsure how muck sulphur to mix into the raised bed. can you assist.
many thanks ken. lovely to meet you.
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Nov 20, 2016 7:12 AM CST
Elemental sulphur from a garden supply store is used to lower soil pH but the amount to use depends on the pH you are starting with and what you are aiming for and also what is called the buffering capacity of the soil (the buffering capacity refers to the ability of the soil to resist changes in pH).

The general guidelines for sulphur application vary accordingly, for low buffering capacity (e.g. sandy soils) and high buffering capacity (e.g. clayey soils). If you have a lot of rotted manure you probably need to go with the higher amounts because organic matter has a high buffering capacity.

Having said that, a pH of 8 is ten times lower on the pH scale than a pH of 9 so a significant difference. I'm guessing this is from a home soil test kit? Do you know how the pH got this high? Some manures can raise soil pH, might it have been poultry manure?

Also, what is it that you want to grow in the raised bed because that determines the optimal pH? Sorry to ask all these questions but how much to apply is dependent upon the answers. Also bear in mind that elemental sulfur will not lower the pH immediately.
Name: Sally
central Maryland
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sallyg
Nov 20, 2016 7:46 AM CST
Where do you live?
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
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dyzzypyxxy
Nov 20, 2016 9:54 AM CST
I'd also recommend you get a better soil test done - a reading of "8 or 9" is not even close to accurate enough. If you're in the US your County Extension service does this for a modest fee. Mix your soil up well, and take a sample of about a cup full of soil, but not from the surface, dig down 6in. or so to get your sample. Take it in to be tested accurately. You'll get a reading to one decimal place i.e. maybe 8.1 or even 8.7 which will be a much more useful number to go forward with.

I'd also like to know where you got the soil that you filled the bed with? As Sue says, if you got compost from a farm it could be very high pH and have a lot of soluble salts especially urea. If your soil is anywhere near a pH of 9 it's not going to grow much for you.

It might be a good idea to test the pH of your water supply, too. I have well water that I irrigate with that is consistently a pH of 8.2 and my plants show signs of problems with rising pH in the soil after about a month of using this darned water. (it's Free but that's its only redeeming feature). You can test your water pH with an aquarium test kit, or if you know somebody with a swimming pool they will have a test kit that will give you a good number, too.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: ZenMan
rural Kansas (Zone 5b)
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ZenMan
Nov 22, 2016 10:33 PM CST
kgl96321 said:... the soil tests results show from this raised bed alkaline readings of 8 ph to 9-ph...


Hi Ken,

Those pH readings sound suspiciously high (highly alkaline). Elaine's suggestion to test the pH of your water supply seems like a good one. You can buy pH test paper in strips or rolls to economically make many pH tests. And there are electronic pH meters (not so economical) that allow you to simply insert their probe into the soil or water supply to get a real-time reading.

There are several alternatives to sulfur to lower your soil's pH, but you should be able to make frequent tests to check your progress. Also, test your bed in many different places to make sure there isn't some local problem that is non-representative of your bed.

ZM
I tip my hat to you.

Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
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RickCorey
Nov 23, 2016 6:02 PM CST
I agree that you need a more exact measurement than "8 to 9". And I agree: check the pH of your water (someone in high school may have access to a real pH meter.)

But if that's all you have, plan conservatively, since you don;t want to go from one extreme to the other extreme.

If your pH measurement may be off by an entire pH unit (a factor of ten in acidity/alkalinity) , you really have to under-correct and sneak up on it gradually.

If a large % of your soil is real SOIL from your area, the local co-op (Cooperative Extension System) should be able to suggest whether local soil tends to be strongly buffering or weakly buffering, though they may only be able to say: "you live in an area with multiple soil types that vary a lot".

I can't point you at your local co-op service because you didn't list your approximate location in your profile (the head-and-shoulders icon in the upper right of most pages here.)

Darn, it looks like USDA moved their "co-op finder website again! I had a link in my signature block ...

Wow, I'm not finding ANYthing now. I see a new website https://extension.org/ but no list of county-level or state-level offices. I wonder if they replaced the traditional system where land-grant colleges had local agents that advised farmers and home gardeners. So far I haven't seen anything in https://extension.org/ that I would ever click on. Money-saving??
Here's an example of what seems to have replaced a once-useful service:
"National System – Launch a task force to identify methods to better communicate Extension core values and how to work together as a national network. "
Oh, joy now they offer to help me "launch a task force" and "better communicate the core values" of something that may have just been replaced with hot air. I'll try to research that. It's hard for me to believe that the entire national Cooperative Extension Service could have been dismantled without my hearing about it. )

1. plan to change "pH 8" (not 9) down to whatever you want to grow, needs. Maybe 7.5? Plan to make the smallest plausible change so you don't overshoot.

2. Then assume your soil buffers less than it really does. It sounds like it buffers pretty strongly, so only assume "average".

3. Then follow the instructions for your "flowers of sulfur" or "Ag sulfur", hopefully they give some guidance. We can help convert "pounds per acre" to "ounces per square yard".

4. Measure pH again a year later, hopefully more accurately. The sulfur will not yet have all reacted, so UNDER-correct it again.

5. The year after that, skip adding more sulfur to let what's already there finish reacting.

6. The year after THAT, measure again and maybe dose it again.
Name: ZenMan
rural Kansas (Zone 5b)
Kansas 5b
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ZenMan
Nov 23, 2016 6:15 PM CST
Some fertilizers, like triple super-phosphate or ammonium sulfate, will cause almost immediate shifts in your soil pH after you apply them, because, unlike elemental sulfur, they are water soluble. But, like Rick said, it is better to "creep up onto" your target pH.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
Frugal Gardener Garden Procrastinator I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest
Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database.
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RickCorey
Nov 23, 2016 6:17 PM CST
I hope I'm wrong ...

http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal...

But from there, "Local Extension Offices" only takes me to the map that USED TO list local offices of the extension services. Now it only lists "land grant colleges" in each state.

https://nifa.usda.gov/land-gra...

The pull-down that used to list extension offices as one option, now only lists "1890 / 1862 and 1994" . ???

https://nifa.usda.gov/land-gra...
(scroll down and click on one state.)

"Extension Services" just takes you to a hot-air blah-blah-blah useless page.

The "State and National Partners" link take you to the same content-free useless page. I guess the geniuses thought that people trying to find the old USEFUL services wouldn't notice that multiple links all go to the same useless page.

And the "e-Extension" link takes me back to the original useless page, seemingly addressed to "extension professionals" who would be the people who used to work IN the useful offices.

I'm guessing that the entire national ag extension service was eliminated to save money, and then the website cobbled up to make it hard to be sure there's nothing left of it.

Does anyone know the real story? Did they just make it hard to find online, or has it really gone away?

Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
Frugal Gardener Garden Procrastinator I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest
Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database.
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RickCorey
Nov 23, 2016 6:39 PM CST
Bad clue:

"The 1995 reorganization of the department merged the Extension Service into the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service. "

Good news:
This NGO website still lists local extension offices. Hopefully they DO still exist and still answer local ag questions!

http://www.pickyourown.org/cou...

YES! Once I totally avoid USDA websites, I CAN find the county offices that are the useful part. E.g., for my county, WSU is still the "contact point". I guess they just deliberately made it hard to find online.

http://extension.wsu.edu/snoho...

kgl96321, if you say where you're from down to the county level, I'll try to find your local extension office and see if they have ideas about what kind of soil you might have.

Or, I updated my signature block to have a working link to A website that lists extension offices along with pick-ur-own-apples.

Meanwhile, a belated WELCOME to NGA!


Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
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dyzzypyxxy
Nov 23, 2016 8:16 PM CST
Rolling on the floor laughing Rick, just gotta say I thought from a couple of posts back that you were starting at the wrong end of that County Extension search.

I just typed in Sarasota (my county) County Extension and it came right up with a map, phone numbers, an e-mail address for questions and all. Master Gardeners run a Plant Clinic from 9am to 3pm weekdays to field questions (phone, e-mail or walk-in) from homeowners, and the Ag. agents take the commercial questions. It's year-round here but in northern states it would be during the growing season only, I guess.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Nov 24, 2016 5:18 AM CST
I wonder if kgl96321 has checked the accuracy of the pH meter if that's what was used. The area in question is a raised bed of only 3' x 6' x 3' and is filled with soil plus rotted manure. We don't know if this is native soil or purchased soil or something purchased as "soil" that isn't soil, like one of those soilless materials sold as "top soil'. It sounds like it is probably native soil but we don't know how much of the bed is manure.

I'm guessing that kgl96321 is not in the United States because of the spelling sulphur whereas in the States it is usually spelled sulfur.
[Last edited by sooby - Nov 24, 2016 5:20 AM (+)]
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Name: ZenMan
rural Kansas (Zone 5b)
Kansas 5b
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Hybridizer Region: United States of America Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Garden Ideas: Level 2
ZenMan
Nov 24, 2016 9:58 AM CST
sooby said:I'm guessing that kgl96321 is not in the United States because of the spelling sulphur whereas in the States it is usually spelled sulfur.

Hi Sue,

Good guess. And that phrase " flower of elixir sulphur " makes that guess even more probable. But we will know more when kgl posts a response.

ZM
I tip my hat to you.

south yorkshire, united kingdo
kgl96321
Nov 26, 2016 8:20 AM CST
i did the soil ph tests with a meter reading .
the soil is 8 bags from my garden and 3 well rotted manure was bought from local farm over two years in the pile i have since added sulpur of flowers crystals to the bed and managed to lower the ph 7.8 to nearly nuteral level 6.7 i will continue to monitor condition bed over next few months .
i live in the united kingdom. south yorkshire.
the raised bed will not be used until april 2017.
kenneth.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
Frugal Gardener Garden Procrastinator I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest
Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database.
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RickCorey
Nov 28, 2016 7:47 PM CST
dyzzypyxxy said: Rolling on the floor laughing Rick, just gotta say I thought from a couple of posts back that you were starting at the wrong end of that County Extension search.

I just typed in Sarasota (my county) County Extension and it came right up with a map, phone numbers, an e-mail address for questions and all. ...


Thanks, Elaine. I never would have thought of searching "bottom up" since I've been looking up co-op offices "top-down" for years.

But it does seem logical to search for something where it is, not search for a higher-level-thing that supports finding EVERY such thing in the whole country.

And I'm fascinated by why they would make it HARDER for people to find them!
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
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Weedwhacker
Nov 28, 2016 11:58 PM CST
Welcome to NGA, @kgl96321 !

I hope this will help you find your way back to this thread, and that you will find some useful information here. Smiling
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