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How quickly do H's and H's respond to soil pH?

Posted by paulns NS zone 6a (My Page) on
Thu, Dec 6, 07 at 18:03

In September we were hired to plant a set of gardens locally, among them a heath and heather garden. We purchased topsoil locally. Nova Scotia soil is dependably acidic, gardens require liming every few years. The topsoil looked good - sandy-loam. I assumed it was acidic like our sandy garden soil at home. The man who delivered it knew nothing about pH and wouldn't say where he got it - good topsoil is hard to come by here, and he was protecting his source, I think.

I amended the topsoil with peat - about 1/3 peat to soil - and planted 25 heaths and heathers. A month later I got to thinking...Maybe I should have that topsoil tested. Sent it to the provincial lab. To my intense dismay the pH is 7.1.

I dusted the plants with sulfur and watered it in. That was two weeks ago. They're now covered with about 6" snow. What do you think their chances of survival are, given a good snow cover and mulch over the winter? How quickly do heaths and heathers react to soil conditions? The plants were about 5" tall, in 3" pots.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: How quickly do H's and H's respond to soil pH?

Thanks for these ideas Dave. I'll try not to think about them until spring, then get another pH test. We're committed to organic gardening but in this case I won't hesitate to use chemicals, if it means saving the h's and h's. (first time I've ever said such a thing).

RE: How quickly do H's and H's respond to soil pH?

The snow's finally gone. The heaths look good and are blooming. The heathers look dull and not happy. Just as forecasted...Isn't ammonium sulfate also a nitrogen/fertilizer, which this plant family dislikes? I have some alum (Potassium aluminum sulfate, I believe) on the shelf, could that cause aluminum toxicity?

RE: How quickly do H's and H's respond to soil pH?

  • Posted by ericwi Dane County WI (My Page) on
    Sat, Apr 4, 09 at 15:36

I grow blueberries here in Madison, Wisconsin, and we have hard water, that is, our tap water contains dissolved limestone. There is a layer of limestone underground here, I think it covers all of southern Wisconsin. Blueberries require soil with a pH between 5 and 6, so our tap water is a problem when the shrubs need to be irrigated. I have had success by adding white vinegar (5%) that was bought at our local food market. This is standard white vinegar, nothing exotic. Using a pH meter, I determined that 6 fluid ounces of vinegar added to 4 gallons of tap water was about right. The blueberries seem to agree, they have dark green leaves, like they should, when the soil pH is correct.

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