Soil Alkalinity and pH

What is the best method for soil reconstruction?

Our soil is of a lime structure (moderately alkaline). Our water is hard and slightly chlorinated. Compost at the rate of 1 lb. to a sq. ft. and 2-1/2 lbs. of superphosphate for each 100 sq. ft. This should be thoroughly mixed with the soil. Sow green manure crops in the fall. Use an acid commercial fertilizer for plants.

What is the best way to counteract highly alkaline soil?

Sulfur or ammonium sulfate is used for the purpose. A soil with pH 8.0 (alkaline) will require 4 lbs. of sulfur to 100 sq. ft. to make it slightly acid (pH 6.0), or 8 lbs. of ammonium sulfate for the same area. Ammonium sulfate acts much more quickly than sulfur.

Would like to know what grows best in alkaline soil. What will counteract too much soil alkali?

Very few plants do well in strongly alkaline soil. Use sulfur or ammonium sulfate for acidification.

We have alkaline soil. I succeed with most flowers but not with gladiolus. The bulbs rot. What is the reason? (Washington.)

Gladiolus plants do better in slightly acid soil – acidify it with sulfur and use acid-forming fertilizer.

Our soil has considerable alkali in it. For that reason I have hesitated about trying to raise lady’s slippers. What can I do to grow these?

Leaf mold acidified with sulfur will produce satisfactory growth. Acid peat moss mixed with leafmold will also do. It is doubtful, however, that an alkaline soil will remain fit for native orchids, if they are meant by “lady’s slipper.” If you mean impatiens (a garden balsam) it will grow in slightly alkaline soil.

What vegetables will grow in alkali ground?

No vegetables grow well in highly alkaline soil. The most tolerant of alkalinity are asparagus, beet, lima bean, cauliflower, muskmelon, parsnip, and spinach.

Can any chemical be used to correct alkali in soil?

My soil is heavy and moist. The best methods of control for such conditions consist of (1) providing a soil mulch to retard evaporation, and (2) applications of gypsum if the soil needs calcium; or sulfur, if it needs to be acidified. True western alkali soils are almost impossible to fit for garden use.

I have had much difficulty in growing flowers and plants, as many turn yellow. (Soil has been diagnosed by county agent as highly alkaline.) Why?

Poor drainage may cause accumulation of alkaline salts. Apply iron sulfate at 1 to 2 lbs. per 100 sq. ft. More than 1 application may be necessary. Or use dusting sulfur.

What can one add to alkali water to make it suitable for irrigation on a small garden plot? (Kansas.)

Water may be acidified by sulfuric, phosphoric acid, or other acids. This should be done, however, only on the advice of your Agricultural Experiment Station. Treating alkali water would probably be too costly for garden use.