Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Random update: stardate 3004.2015 or PH.

I finally discovered that my ph meter is kaput.  I'm hoping this will assist big time with a lot of "fail to produce" problems.  The other thing that this little adventure has taught me is that it's probably better to build a few small beds rather than one big one.  This allows you to adjust your soil in each bed individually.  If you want a long bed, just butt a few up against each other.  

Let me explain.  I work hard to pour organics into my beds. I think that means they are rich in nitrogen and alkaline.  Citrus like an acidic soil - let's say 6.  My bed is around 7.6.  Probably even too high for the fig which likes 7.0.  

Sulphur is about to become my best friend!

Grow long and may your fruit and vege prosper. 

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Comment by Lissa on May 13, 2015 at 5:15

Poor quality "soil" is never worthwhile in the long run. Soil is all important.

What's Lissa's vinegar Darren? My pot of weed tea perhaps? Finally got a new bubbler coming for that.

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on May 12, 2015 at 22:27

I'm find that even in my raised beds.  It's just not worth saving money by using crap soil. 

Comment by DARREN JAMES on May 12, 2015 at 21:33

This is a definite advantage of growing in pots ,drums etc you can doctor  each pot accordingly.Plenty of manures and nitrogen for your greens in one drum and less nitrogen for your carrots and other root crops.There is one law every  container gardener must follow, I  have found only use the best potting mix or lissas vinegar will surely bubble for you 

Comment by Lissa on May 1, 2015 at 16:46


Comment by Andrew Cumberland on May 1, 2015 at 14:38

Hey Dave - the urine and ash answer is the perfect boy game - you get to light a fire and then pee on it.  How good is that??!!!!

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on May 1, 2015 at 12:46

In a btw - if you need to add calcium and lots of the plants we love are big calcium users - use Gypsum. It is cheap and effective; I do not know an alternative except for the much dearer dried milk powder.

Comment by Dave Riley on May 1, 2015 at 12:22

My pH conundrum is the root veg -- carrots, some radishes like Watermelon, beetroot and turnips. Thus my interest in wood ash for sandy soils.

I've used lime broadly a few time (on the off chance) but it seems such an inefficient intervention, esp with mulch all about. You really do need naked soil.

Bonfires are fun...and the ash will go into a sort of solution in a watering can, after a few stirs, and the ash permeates the mulch. Adding ash doesn't suit all soils   but it is a  good option for sandy ones like mine. 

So I've been sowing carrots and the like and thereafter dribbling ash mix to top the seedling line.

Ash is also a recommend supplement to urine --

-- so if you were yankering for self sufficiency, burning Guy Fawkes and peeing is the way to go.

The advantage with both is  you always have a supply to order without blowing out your Bunnings budget.

Just an aside relative to our past discussion: you really need a strict routine to run a urine cycle., otherwise the smell will waft, and you are confronted with the question (to which you don't want to answer), "What's that smell?"

However, there is a pH plus:

Urine pH values: In a pH balanced body. urine is slightly acid in the morning, (pH = 6.5 - 7.0) generally becoming more alkaline (pH = 7.5 - 8.0) by evening in healthy people primarily because no food or beverages are consumed while sleeping. So sharing your urine neat or diluted is a management tool.

On a more general note, I gather it takes some time for alkalisers to impact on soil pH. And in line with my earlier comment,their general uses presumes broadacre application prior to planting crops. In the suburban garden that's a bit of a challenge unless you follow variations of monocultural plantings -- tweaking alkalinity metre by metre. The problem is, I'd guess, the molecules  produced have to merge with the soil itself and adhere to the granules to re-engineer the pH.

It's 'Breaking Bad' chemistry.

The approach of the FoodWeb folks , on the other hand, is to make the biota do that for you. So you don't read your soil by dint of pH but by its inhabitants.

The correct ratio of fungi to bacteria is present, and that the ratio of predator to prey is present ensuring soil pH, soil structure, and nutrient cycling occur at the correct rates producing the right forms of nutrients the plant requires.

I'd guess that in Andrew's example maybe the soil occupancy was suggestive of stress. Earthworms prefer a pH of 4.1 to 6.7 I gather. So if your garden bed pH is far too acid or far too alkaline you will tend to have strange bedfellows or none.

But then it could be a lot worse, we could live in Perth!

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on May 1, 2015 at 9:36

What a super-cool idea!

Comment by Lissa on May 1, 2015 at 6:57

Home made PH test methods - see more HERE:

#1 – You can test your garden soil pH with vinegar and baking soda

Collect 1 cup of soil from different parts of your garden and put 2 spoonfuls into separate containers. Add 1/2 cup of vinegar to the soil. If it fizzes, you have alkaline soil, with a pH between 7 and 8.

Test soil pH with vinegar and baking soda | PreparednessMama

If it doesn’t fizz after doing the vinegar test, then add distilled water to the other container until 2 teaspoons of soil is muddy. Add 1/2 cup baking soda. If it fizzes you have acidic soil, most likely with a pH between 5 and 6.

If  your soil doesn’t react at all it is neutral with a pH of 7 and you are very lucky!

This test was fun to do. After I added the vinegar there was no reaction in my bowl and I thought my kitchen science experiment wouldn’t work. Then I added distilled water to another bowl of soil and poured on just a sprinkling of baking soda. Instant fizz! So much fizz that I could see it immediately and hear it working. There’s no doubt –  I have acidic soil in my new garden.

Comment by Lissa on May 1, 2015 at 6:53

I am the original lazy gardener :) but we should all have some idea about the PH value of our growing medium.

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Vetiver grass helps to stabilise soil and protects it against erosion.  It can protect against pests and weeds. Vetiver is also used as animal feed. (Wiki.)

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