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  • Help me learn how to keep the PH down

    Can I get ideas how you experienced growers like to acidify soil for blueberries?

    Thanks
    Doug


  • #2
    Wills uses a fancy set up with dilute sulfuric acid. My set up is much more primitive, but it works for me.

    When I started, I used about a cup of vinegar in a 32 gallon trash can and dispersed it in buckets. After some reading and learning that sulfuric is far more effective, I moved up to battery acid purchased at automotive stores. It is 33% sulfuric. At first I used litmus paper to judge the pH level. Now I have a 'regular' recipe that gives me the right pH. At first (with fewer plants) I applied it using buckets from acidified tap water filled trash cans. Now I use a hose-end siphon (hozon) which has a 16:1 dilution rate. (I can give you more info if you go this way)

    At one point a few years ago I used dry citric acid thinking it would be easier. And it was easier, but less precise and not as effective as the sulfuric. Citric is considered organic, as is vinegar. But the sulfuric is better for my plants so I'm back to that.

    I also use AS (ammonium sulfate), basically Nitrogen, regularly and lightly to both fertilize and acidify.

    Some people like to use rain water, but it doesn't rain enough here to last through the dry summers.
    Last edited by Gina; 03-03-2015, 10:15 PM.
    SoCal, zone 10.
    www.ourfigs.com Invite your friends.

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    • #3
      Coffee grinds? There was an old thread at the F4FF about that and a bunch of members claimed that used coffee grinds bring the PH down and are very good for blueberries ! I got a bunch from the local Starbucks and mixed with the soil around my blueberry bush that has been struggling for the past couple of years. Let's see what happens!

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      • #4
        Used coffee grinds are not acidic and will not bring down the Ph of soil. The acid is leached out of the beans in the process of making coffee. That being said it is good food for plants as it decomposes. As is all organic decomposition. The key is water and Gina's example is what most people successful in growing blues do. Im in a very rainy area most of the year so I opt to use rain water stored in barrels. Rarely do I run out but it does happen. Starting off with the right Ph mix is important as well.

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        • #5
          Thanks for the correction Blueboy77! I do collect whatever rain water I can in 55 gal drums and also the ac water( condensation)! Do you know if it has the same effect to the ph as rain water?

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          • #6
            I am with Blueboy, it all depends on how many plants you have. If you have a relatively small collection, collecting rain water will make it easy. Between the rainwater, a soil mix of peat and pine fines and some ammonium sulfate dissolved and watered in every week or so during the growing season, you will have no problems.

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            • #7
              I have my own 140 foot well, I do not store water. I guess I could if I need.
              My PH tester uses a probe after wetting soil to check PH so I went all over looking for the lowest natural PH area I have.
              My PH looks to be between 6 to 6.5 PH and I need to get it down around 5.
              Is there a way I can acidify each time I water with vinegar? I use a 2 gal watering can, how much vinegar should I add?
              I like the idea of using vinegar as I like to pickle each year and always have it handy any way.
              Thanks all

              Doug

              edit, I can use a measured amount of vinegar then test the PH of the water.....I have it calculated to 1 tablespoon vinegar per 2 gallons of water....
              Last edited by SCfigFanatic; 03-03-2015, 11:21 PM.

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              • #8
                All good info. It really comes down to what your water is like. How hard the water is and not really what the PH is. You can have ph7.5 water that is ok for the BB and just the soil and ammonium sulfate will fix it or you can have ph 7.5 water that is horrible for BB.......the amount of bicarbonates in the water is what makes the difference. So a set recipe for making water acidic won't work, have to test it yourself and work out the right amounts but that is very easy to do.

                Even though Gina said my set up is fancy it is in fact identical to what she uses. Instead of her venturi that hooks on her hose my Venturi is plumbed in to a 1' water line with valves to go through the venturi or bypass it. I make a stock PH 2 solution which is 9 cups of 96% sulfuric to 33 gallons of water and then set the venturi to draw it up slowly so the water coming from the overhead is PH 5. I add the ammonium sulfate to that as well so they are fertilized as I water.

                Vinegar does work but it is just temporary. When the soil bacteria act on the vinegar the acid effect goes away. The sulfuric acid effect is permanent and changes the bicarbonates in the water to Gypsum, same stuff that makes up the sheet rock in your walls. It is stable and neutral in the soil.

                Best if you have just a few plants is rainwater. If that is not an option it is easy to fill a couple garbage cans with water and add a tiny amount of sulfuric acid to that water to reduce it to PH 5. Once you work out the amount you just add that amount to the water and you are done. It makes a HUGE difference to the growth and health of the plants.
                Cutting sales on willsfigs.com started Nov 1 and will continue till about March 1.

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                • #9
                  Very interesting. I will have to pick up a plastic 55 gal drum from a guy down the road.
                  And some battery acid. I can use litmus paper PH tester to see
                  what my ratio will be.
                  Thanks all. A very big help.

                  Doug

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                  • #10
                    Wills,
                    How much ammonium sulfate would you add to a 55 gal drum of rainwater?
                    It has been awhile since I bought some, but last I remember I think the AS I bought only had recommendations for adding to soil.
                    Calvin, Wish list is to finish working on the new house, someday.
                    Bored? Grab a rake, paint roller, or a cordless drill and come over!

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                    • #11
                      Wills,
                      How much ammonium sulfate would I add to a 55 gal drum of rainwater? It has been awhile since I bought any, but I only remember the last bag of AS having recommendations for adding to soil(meaning no idea how much to use for h2o).
                      Calvin, Wish list is to finish working on the new house, someday.
                      Bored? Grab a rake, paint roller, or a cordless drill and come over!

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                      • #12
                        I use holly tone combined with sulfer based soil acidifying stuff. I think both are made by the same company. I haven't actually done a litmus test on my resulting potting mix, but my blueberries are thriving, so I don't try to over-analyze it. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. I grow all mine in pots, by the way.
                        Brett in Athens, GA zone 7b/8a

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                        • #13
                          Calvin,

                          For in ground plants a tsp a gallon a week, half that for potted so a 55 gallon drum level full is actually 60 gallons so 60 tsp which would be 1.25 cups.
                          Cutting sales on willsfigs.com started Nov 1 and will continue till about March 1.

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