[NAFEX] pine needles & pH
list at ginda.us
Sun Oct 25 10:23:04 EDT 2009
On Oct 25, 2009, at 10:04 AM, Jwlehman at aol.com wrote:
> In a message dated 10/25/2009 8:02:02 AM Central Daylight Time, list at ginda.us
>> Someone on this list has measured the pH of pine needles and says
>> they were neutral (or thereabouts). But they are traditionally
>> used to mulch blueberries. And lots of people on this list agree
>> that blueberries like copious organic matter (and are less
>> sensitive to pH if the soil is rich enough in organics).
> The clay soil around here runs around 6.8. My neighbor has about 10
> varieties of high bush blue berries that do very well in it. There
> is a large pine woods near him. For years he would get fresh and
> rotted pine needles and spread them around his bushes. Every year he
> had wonderful crops, his bushes seemingly loving their environment.
> My attempt of growing high bush blueberries was a miserable failure
> in the same type soil w/o pine needle mulch.
> Now I'm going to let more of my ignorance hang out. I get this
> feeling that many are of the opinion that neutral mulch is
> beneficial only as a mulch and doesn't affect pH. I'd like to have
> input from an expert. What is neutral on the pH scale, 6.0, 6.5? If
> neutral is say 6.0 and my soil is 6.8 applying neutral mulch would
> help bring it down, wouldn't it. Being neutral doesn't mean the
> absence of, rather the center of the range.
> Wouldn't it also help bring acid soil pH up?
> Jerry _______________________________________________
Neutral pH is 7.0. 6.8 is ever-so-slightly acid. Yes, neutral is the
center of the range, not "no effect". Different substances that
measure the same pH can have a different effect when you mix them with
the same thing, as pH measures the ratio of positive to negative ions,
but some substances have more free (or free-able) ions than others.
Some weak acids (or bases) have a strong "buffering" capacity, meaning
they blunt the impact of other acids and bases and tend to maintain a
pH close to their own regular pH. Soil chemistry and pH are very
complicated, and pH is at best a rough measure of the type of soil you
have and what's likely to grow there.
(who is remembering her high school chemistry)
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