Red cabbage pH test of blood meal, corn meal, compost, etc.

strawchicago(zone 5a)July 13, 2014

I learn my lesson: always test what others recommend, or report. Take Coffee ground, some sites report that as acidic. I tested that with red-cabbage-juice. Initially the color was pinkish (acidic), after 1/2 hour it turned clear, or neutral pH. Coffee ground is a buffer.

I already tested 1 cup of bone meal in the planting hole: disaster ... nearly killed a Gallica band, plus a tomato. And 4 roses with bone meal broke out in B.S., compared to the clean one without.

Blood meal was reported as acidic. I tested it against my alkaline soil (pH 7.7, tested by EarthCo.) .. BLOOD MEAL was almost as blue as my heavy clay, I would put its pH at 7.5.

I tested Encap dry compost sold at Menards for $2 per 18 lb. .. greenish tinge that became clearer with prolonged soaking, most likely a buffer like coffee ground. The last time I tested the bagged compost & manure at HomeDepot, it was more blue than my pH 7.7 clay.

Corn meal was reported in the canning site with pH 7.3. That's for FRESH cooked corn. However, raw, cracked corn stored for years in the bag, underwent anaerobic fermentation & giving off acid, and tested quite acidic. At first it was pinkish, but after 20 minutes, it got darker pink than pine bark. Pine bark pH 4.5, so cracked corn would be around pH 4. Peat moss pH is reported to be 4.

See below from top to bottom, left to right: Blood meal (medium blue), pH around 7.5, compost (just a touch of green, slightly alkaline), corn (very pink) pH around 4, and red-cabbage boiled in distilled water (purple, neutral pH):

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Fri, Jul 25, 14 at 8:48

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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Here's a bigger basket of samples: I already tested gritty lime (or pulverized lime), it's bluish-gray, pH above 8. I also tested gypsum (Menards $4.49 for 50 lbs. bag), it turned chalky grayish, so it's neutral pH. Gypsum site reported its pH to be 6.8.

Below picture from L to R, and top to bottom: Potting soil of Rose du Roi, after gritty lime application, plus weeks of constant rain: light blue, or slightly alkaline.

Encap Compost dry granules: tinge of green, became clearer with prolonged soaking. It's a buffer, end result is slightly alkaline.

Bloodmeal: medium blue, pH 7.5

MG regular potting soil: a few sites report it to be 6.5 pH. Mine turned pinkish.

Purple big cup: red-cabbage juice boiled in distilled water, neutral pH.

Cracked corn: very acidic, pH around 4.

Stephen Big Purple in the ground: slightly alkaline

Old Port rose in the ground: composted pine fines mixed with my clay, pH neutral, almost clear-red-cabbage-juice. That's a BS fest, manganese is high in pine fines. Manganese is known as a fungal-promoter in 2 studies: one which manganese promoted fermentation, and the other promoted rust in plants.

Potting soil mixed with red lava: slightly alkaline, around 7.2 with clean Duchess de Rohan rose.

*** Conclusion: I did samples in the past: such as horse manure where it turned VERY DARK blue (pH above 8), or wood ash (bright green, pH above 10), or baking soda (greenish blue, pH near 9).

The EnCap compost is VERY LIGHT green, indicative of its buffering ability, so I don't think it's as harsh-alkaline as the quick lime in horse manure, which turned it DARK BLUE immediately. Horse manure was more alkaline than my clay at pH 7.7 (tested by EarthCo. professional soil testing company).

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Fri, Jul 25, 14 at 8:55

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 6:10PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Here's the result of application of gritty lime (pH 9) on own-root Radio Times. The leaves became pale, but the rose shot up with vigor, breaking out in buds. I checked that bush after our month-long rain & high humidity: very clean.

Radio Times was pale like that when it was next to my limestone patio, giving 40+ blooms in spring flush. Then I moved it, and made the soil neutral with pine-barks ... it went down hill, with 2-years of stunt-growth & black spots.

Recently I brought the pH up by spreading gritty lime, and was surprised by its DOUBLING IN HEIGHT & lots of buds & clean foliage ... some roses are healthier at higher pH. I take pale foliage & more blooming over dark-green leaves and BS anytime !!

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 6:24PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Here's and old-garden-rose which I dug up to fix the soil. It didn't bloom for 1 year, so I dug it up, and found rock-hard clay, pH near 8. I fixed it with cracked corn (pH 4), gypsum (neutral pH), red lava rock for potassium & iron. I NO longer use pine bark to fix my clay, after witnessing roses with pine-bark in the hole have more B.S.. Pine bark is high in manganese, a fungal-promoter.

Here's the result: very perky and darker green leaves: Le Nia Rias, a Centifola rose:

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 6:30PM
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jim1961 Zone 6a Central Pa.

Great info Strawbhill!
I spread alittle used coffee grounds once in awhile just to increase earthworm population.
My way of thinking is if I increase earthworm populations a bit they will keep the soil tilled and their castings should benefit too...

Do you have any info on earthworms Strawbhill?

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 8:43PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Hi Jim: In my last house of acidic clay (blue hydrangeas), I didn't see any earthworms. But in my current house of alkaline dolomitic clay, tons of them.

I think the magnesium content is what attract earthworms, rather than soil pH. When I tested cocoa mulch at pH 5.8, high in nitrogen, potassium, calcium & magnesium ... there was TONS of earthworm, like 10 per scoop. My current soil is tested exceedingly HIGH in magnesium.

In our recent months of rainy weather, I spreaded gritty dolomitic lime on some roses ... they hated it and turned pale. So I scraped it off, and found lots of earthworm underneath. Coffee is high in magnesium (helps folks with constipation!) ... thus coffee grounds would be beneficial for earthworms.

Not sure why cracked corn, at such low pH of 4 works against fungal diseases, until I checked the soil-research, see below excerpt: "ABSTRACT
The influence of pH on the two principal decomposer groups in soil, fungi and bacteria, was investigated along a continuous soil pH gradient at Rothamsted Research in the United Kingdom. This experimental location provides a uniform pH gradient, ranging from pH 8.3 to 4.0, within 180 m in a silty loam soil. .. The growth-based measurements revealed a fivefold decrease in bacterial growth and a fivefold increase in fungal growth with lower pH. .. Below pH 4.5 there was universal inhibition of all microbial variables."

So Corn meal, being acidic at pH 4, would suppress BOTH bacteria and fungi. In contrast, dolomitic lime at pH 9 is known to encourage growth of beneficial bacteria and earthworms. For fungal suppression, nothing beats woodash ... folks reported using it successfully against mildew and rust. Some info:

pH woodash is 10.4 versus pH of limestone is 9.9

Woodash is high in calcium, potassium, zinc, chromium, and all trace elements . Woodash also contains 123 mg/kg of Boron, which is vital for plant growth. Boron is less available in alkaline clay.

Woodash has 70 mg/kg of copper, a fungicide in Bordeux mixture. It has 233 mg/kg of zinc (compared to 113 in limestone) a fungicide fraction in Mancozeb spray. It has boron, another fungicide for dry rot. It has 65 mg of lead, compared to 55 mg of lead in limestone, also a fungicide. Finally woodash has 57 mg of chromium, another fungicide, here's a quote:

"In the past, chromium was also used in cooling towers as a rust and corrosion inhibitor and as a fungicide. "

Brewer's yeast is high in chromium and selenium, but with acidic pH at 5. Austin own-root Eglantyne prefers it acidic, so it blooms well with Brewer's Yeast & healthy in this month-long rain:

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Sat, Jul 19, 14 at 9:42

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 9:54PM
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jim1961 Zone 6a Central Pa.

Thanks for the info... Yes the rose I put Brewers Yeast under is doing well also... :-)

Now I'm not sure if you read my other post on another thread or not but I dug out both Carefree Sunshines bagged them and discarded.
I decided to discard because no other roses were showing signs of rose midge. So hopefully this slows it down or ends it!
I have my suspicions that the Rose Midge were in the potted soil of the roses when they came from the vendor.
So I can not report on what Brewers Yeast did for them since they are gone now.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 11:33AM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Hi Jim: Thanks for the info., I did not realize that you dug BOTH of them ... I thought only one. I'm sorry for your losses, but better safe than sorry.

Rock-hard clay soil doesn't hold the optimal moisture level, but fluffy soil does. I DID NOT have rose-midge in my last garden of acidic soil, nor my current alkaline clay until I fixed Golden Celebration rose with fluffy potting soil & pine barks .. then I got rose midge on that one. Plus it's in a very shady area. I repost the info. on rose midge:

Experiments at Cornell University stated, " Laboratory results indicated that extremely dry and extremely wet soil hinders swede midge emergence. Optimal moisture content for swede midge emergence was from 25 ��" 75 %, and varied in different soils."

That explains why I don't have rose midge in my rock-hard clay. My heavy clay is sticky-wet when it's rained, and rock-hard when dry. 15 minutes from me is Cantigny rose park, with 1,200 roses. They use zero mulch, just bare dirt. But when people mulch with bark, or horse manure on a fluffy bedding ... that retains optimal moisture level longer for midge germination.

More from Cornell University: "These results suggest that cultural practices, such as flooding fields during non-cropping periods to achieve 100% soil moisture level or even drying the soil, may be viable methods to reduce swede midge emergence. Similarily, swede midge populations and damage are expected to be REDUCED when saturated soil or drought conditions occur."

eHow recommended that for rose midge, removing the top soil, and putting new soil in late season will stop midge from germinating next year. That's what I did in zone 5a for winter-protection: I dump new soil in late fall, to protect my roses. The bagged soils here are alkaline clay, pH near 8.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 12:04PM
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jim1961 Zone 6a Central Pa.

I will just leave our soil next year uncovered and see how things go... No mulch or compost will be applied. Once the roses bushes fill out with leaves it keeps the roots shaded anyhow.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 1:46PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Hi Jim: Best wish to your no-mulching roses for next year. My clay germinate seeds too well, so I won't use cracked corn in the planting hole. Doing that late fall was OK, since my cold zone 5a winter killed the corn's germination in the planting hole. WARNING: cracked corn germinate into plants .. not recommended.

I once read that magnesium helps with seed-germination. So I tested that: This week I put 1/2 cup cracked corn, plus 3/4 cup of my sticky clay (high in magnesium) in potting soil. COMPARE THAT to 1/2 cup cracked corn in MG potting soil alone.

After 1 week of constant rain, there were at least 20 baby-corn-plants in the pot with clay mixed in. But less than 5 corn-germination in the pot with Moisture-control potting soil alone.

I tested the growth rate of roses in potting soil, with, and without some clay mixed-in. Impressive moisture-retention with the clay mixed in, that's when Sonia Rykiel gave me 15+ blooms in dinky plastic pot, at temp. above 90 degrees.

That's the logic for the Pro-Mix potting soil I saw at Menards, sold for $6 per pack. It has peat moss, perlite, dolomitic lime, and gypsum. Dolomitic lime is 25% calcium and 10% magnesium. My clay is tested exceedingly high in magnesium, and barely adequate in calcium.

I have 5 bands coming from Heirloom, will test their growth rate in potting soil with a tiny bit of native clay mixed in for magnesium, besides the 1/2 cup of gypsum that I added.

Result of no-mulch in my garden? Flowers germinate themselves from seeds of last year. The snapdragon and yellow calendula sow-seed themselves, the alyssum I have to save the seeds indoor through the winter.

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Mon, Jul 14, 14 at 22:50

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 10:41PM
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jim1961 Zone 6a Central Pa.

Flowers look nice though Strawbhill!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 1:00AM
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Actually, it isn't that simple. The protein in blood meal converts to ammonia, which is alkaline. However soil nitrifying bacteria convert this to nitric acid. So blood meal and other organic nitrogen fertilizers are ultimately acidic.

Don't put too much importance on the initial pH of a product. Soil chemistry is far more complex than a litmus test.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 1:13AM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Thank you, Slimy_Okra. That's a great user name, I like that !! I check the info. you gave, and it's correct. You are right that the initial pH of a product will change, given time, and other factors: water, light, and soil bacteria.

I took a soil sample from the rose park nearby. At first it was pinkish in red-cabbage juice, after 1/2 hour, it was blue, a bit lighter than my soil at pH 7.7 (tested by EarthCo.). There are a few pale roses at the park, similar to my garden. TIME is a big factor for elements in the soil to stabilize in water.

The below link explains how various factors change the form of ammonia " Ammonia-nitrogen (NH3-N) has a more toxic form at high pH and a less toxic form at low pH, un-ionized ammonia (NH3) and ionized ammonia (NH4+), respectively. In addition, ammonia toxicity increases as temperature rises."

Here is a link that might be useful: Daily pH cycle and Ammonia toxicity

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 10:08AM
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Hehe, thanks. I do like okra though :)

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 11:13AM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

I did more red-cabbage testing today. See picture below:

From top to bottom on leftmost side: river-birch bark, reddish pink, very acidic, pH below 4. Rain water (pinkish purple, pH around 6.5). East coast rain water is known to be more acidic than my Chicagoland. Distilled water (purple, neutral pH). Last is my hard-well tap-water, pH around 8.3. I double-checked this value with fish-tank litmus paper sold at Walmart.

Next column, from top to bottom: Composted willow-branches, neutral pH, whole-wheat flour (acidic pH 5), red-lava rock (slightly alkaline, pH 7.2), my fixed clay with leaves (pH 7.4), last is pine bark, almost red & very acidic pH 4.

Last column, from top to bottom: Milorganite, pH 7.7, blue like my native clay (tested by EarthCo. professional soil company). Organic cracked corn, acidic, pH 5. Brewer's yeast, even more acidic, pH below 5. Bluish-green container at raised height is baking soda, pH 9. Last sample is composted manure from Menards, slightly alkaline 7.4 ... same color as my clay fixed with leaves.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 6:31PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Here's a close up to show how alkaline my tap water at pH 8.5, compared to baking soda at pH 9. Leftmost column, from top to bottom: Rain water, slightly acidic, pH 6.8 (east coast rain water is more acidic at pH 5.6). Distilled water, neutral pH. Last is my hard-well tap water, pH 8.3 to 8.5. Compare that to the raised sample of baking soda, at pH 9 next to it.

Next column, from top to bottom: Genetically modified crack corn, almost red at pH 3, MORE ACIDIC than the organic corn. Next is Red lava rock & my clay tested slightly alkaline, pH 7.2. Baking soda bluish-green, pH 9. Last sample is pine bark, pH 4.5.

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Fri, Jul 18, 14 at 21:50

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 6:39PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Below picture shows how acidic Brewer's yeast is. From top to bottom: organic cracked corn (pH 4), brewer's yeast (pH 5), Milorganite, pH 7.7, gets darker blue as it soaked for 20 minutes. Last is composted manure from Menards, slight blue & almost clear which shows some buffering ability.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 6:43PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Here's the acid-group. I don't have vinegar sample there, but it's fuchsia pink (gaudy-reddish pink). From "commercial distilled white vinegars contain 5-10% acetic acid and have a pH roughly around 2.40 - 3.40."

Left column, from top to bottom: Composted willow branches is same color as rain water, pH 6.5. Paper-birch is acidic, pH 4.5. Pine bark is VERY ACIDIC, pH 4. Left of pine bark is rain water (pH 6.5 to 6.8).

Next column from top to bottom: whole-wheat flour is acidic, pH 5. Organic popcorn pH 4, and Brewer's yeast pH 5.

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Fri, Jul 18, 14 at 21:52

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 6:52PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Below shows how a tiny bit of used-lemon-rind can acidify my very alkaline tap (pH 8.3). To bring my tap-water to the same color as rain water, it's 1/4 used-lemon-rind soaked in 5-gallons bucket of water. Advantage of lemon: it provides vitamin C. There are several studies that showed vitamin C is essential for plant growth.

Leftmost column, top to bottom: My tap water, pH 8.3. Middle is tap water with a tiny-bit of used-lemon, pH 4. Last is neutral pH (red-cabbage boiled in distilled water).

Rightmost column, top to bottom: Milorganite, pH 7.7, dark blue. Tomato-Tone, clear juice above, neutral pH, a buffer. Whole wheat flour, pH 5.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 6:59PM
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jim1961 Zone 6a Central Pa.

Brewers Yeast (5)... Thanks for the info...

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 9:06PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

I did more testing with red-cabbage juice today with: gritty lime (bright blue, pH 9). Gypsum (chalky & cloudy, its reported pH is 6.8 by the gypsum site), Comte de Chambord hole, which was previously occupied by Annie L. McDowell, which I lowered the soil pH with sulfur ... Comte has BAD blackspots, so I put tons of alkaline Encap Compost granules, and the soil is still slightly acidic, or pinkish in red-cabbage juice.

Previous hole occupied by Firefighter rose, which died this past coldest winter: also slightly acidic. I also test a big chunk of my rock-hard alkaline clay, plus a piece of pine bark together ... it came out slightly blue, around pH 7.2. I also tested bone meal, came out to be neutral, or clear in red-cabbage juice. I tested Maca powder. Maca is a health food powder high in iodine, B-vitamins, and copper ... it's acidic like Brewer's yeast.

Will have to put gritty lime in Comte's hole to fix its severe black spots.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 6:55PM
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