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Added to much lime and tomato plants are dying! HELP!

Posted by akenney Richmond, VA (My Page) on
Sun, Jun 12, 11 at 14:46

Hello all...

I am new to gardening and made a stupid mistake. I added lime to my tomato containers because I thought this would make it more acidic (did a soil test and my soil was at 7.5) however, that is wrong! Now my tomato plants (especially the romas) are turning yellow, wilting, and dying (pretty much overnight), fruit seems to be unaffected. I watered with some diluted coffee to try to get the PH level closer to what it should be (everyone talks about coffee grounds but the coffee is more acidic than the used grounds. What can I do to save my plants?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Added to much lime and tomato plants are dying! HELP!

  • Posted by bets z5A ID (My Page) on
    Sun, Jun 12, 11 at 17:01

Flush, flush, flush, flush!

I think your only chance is to run lots of water through the containers.

"I added lime to my tomato containers...did a soil test and my soil was at 7.5"

What in the...? Do you have garden soil in your containers? It really isn't a good idea to use dirt in containers, it compacts and will probably have poor drainage. If you have garden soil (including the bagged stuff you can buy) you may want to take the plants out of the pots and remove as much soil as you can and repot with a good quality growing medium.

If you have a commercial growing medium in them, why do a soil test? It should have been fine unless you were amending it.

Betsy


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RE: Added to much lime and tomato plants are dying! HELP!

I agree with Betsy - flush those pots with lots and lots and lots of water!! Get a chair and your hose get comfortable -- and with a gentle flow let the water literally 'wash' the dirt in your containers. You are in Richmond and I am in Central Virginia so you can go to Lowe's or Home Depot and get new plants AND a few bags of POTTING MIX and start over. It is not too late to start over for our region of the country. You should not buy "garden soil" because that is not for use in containers/pots -- it is to be mixed with soil in the ground. Potting soil is OK but I find it does not work for me.

Good luck,
DL


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RE: Added to much lime and tomato plants are dying! HELP!

Lime is alkaline, not acidic, and will bring the pH even higher. To make soil more acidic and to LOWER the pH, use sulfur. But I definitely agree with everyone that has posted thus far--- flushing is vital, maybe the only chance the tomato plants have to pull through. In the future, use a potting soil that is lightened up with peat moss or coco coir to prevent compaction and allow O2 and H2O to circulate in the root zone, and mix in a fertilizer with the soil, something with plenty of calcium, magnesium and of course the correct dose of N-P-K.

Harlow


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RE: Added to much lime and tomato plants are dying! HELP!

Betsy,

Why did you assume akenny had garden soil in his/her container?!


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RE: Added to much lime and tomato plants are dying! HELP!

What exactly did you add? Garden lime is powdered or pelleted limestone and will not directly harm the plants. It will just reduce the levels of some nutrients and won't take the soil above about pH 8. If you added wood ash (quicklime-calcium oxide) or slaked lime (pickling lime--calcium hydroxide)they are very caustic and would kill the plant.

Tap water is adjusted to about pH8 to prevent pipes from corroding so it won't dissolve/flush garden lime out of soil. If you added the other stuff I would pull the plants and replace the soil.


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RE: Added to much lime and tomato plants are dying! HELP!

Assume garden soil because he did a soil test/why do a test on bagged mix ?


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RE: Added to much lime and tomato plants are dying! HELP!

  • Posted by bets z5A ID (My Page) on
    Mon, Jun 13, 11 at 2:43

@ HarLeo - Dickiefickle has it right. I just could not imagine why anyone would test a commercial growing medium, ergo ipso facto columbo oreo: dirt in the container. (See the red quote.)

@ Spiced Ham - Not all tap water is adjusted to a pH of 8, and even if it were, the original poster must have added so much lime that it is above that since tomatoes will tolerate a pH of 8 even if they are not fond of it. So flushing, even with pH 8 water is likely to help bring the pH into a "normal" range.

Betsy


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RE: Added to much lime and tomato plants are dying! HELP!

Calcium carbonate-limestone, unlike the salts we are used to dealing with (table salt, fertilizer salts) which dissociate/ionize in response to the partial charges on water molecules, dissociates in response to the pH of the solvent. Neutral and or slightly basic water is not going to do much at all to it. The organic acids produced from decaying vegetation in soil and the acidity of pure rain water (due to the formation of carbonic acid when CO2 contacts it) are what slowly dissolves it out of soil.

It is used in saltwater aquarium filtering systems to stabilize the pH at around 8. The more acidic the solution added to it the more it dissociates. Streams running through limstone caves are not poisonous. All of the Florida peninsula is limstone and that groundwater is not poisonous, nor is the soil, which often is a high concentraion of limestone sand.


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RE: Added to much lime and tomato plants are dying! HELP!

@Betsy and Dickiefickle

Thanks, gotcha now.


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RE: Added to much lime and tomato plants are dying! HELP!

  • Posted by tomakers SE MA Zone 5/6 or % (My Page) on
    Tue, Jun 14, 11 at 7:22

I think the only hope for these tomatoes is to replace the contents of the planter, whatever it is filled with and start over.


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