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Why Should I Add Lime to My Soil?

By Edited Apr 26, 2016 1 0

If you are new to gardening, there is much to learn to achieve great results. Knowing everything about your soil is vital for success in growing healthy, thriving plants. Soil can be acidic, neutral, and alkaline. Different plants thrive in different types of soil. If your soil is too acidic for some plants to grow, then adding lime will raise the ph of the soil to a neutral or alkaline state. If the ph of your soil is 6.5 or less, then you will probably need to add lime to it to grow many plants, especially vegetables. It will also add much needed calcium to the soil. Lime benefits thick clay soil in breaking it up to allow increased absorption of water and air. It can also speed up organic matter decomposition of compost.

When should you add lime? Fall is a great time of the year to do this. It should not be added to the garden during the growing season. It should not be added if it is not needed either. Some people tend to add lime to their gardens and lawns every fall. This is not necessary and can actually encourage weed growth. Lawns prefer the soil to be neutral, so make sure that you test your soil before adding anything to it. Only add this for a low ph below 6.5. If you live in an area that receives an excessive amount of rainfall, then the soil may have become acidic. You should add about 5 pounds of dolomite lime per 100 square feet. Clay soil can be deficient in calcium and magnesium, so this type of lime will reverse this problem.

There are several types of lime to choose from. Ordinary or agricultural lime comes from finely ground limestone rock that is 50% calcium. It increases calcium, decreased acidity, and conditions heavy soil. It can also be referred to as aglime. Dolomite is basically the same with magnesium added. Quick lime is lime that has been heated to release carbon dioxide. Hydrated lime has been treated with water to create a caustic pesticide and fungicide. This type of lime can be sprinkled on plants to fight fungus or insects. Lime is really caustic in any form and protective equipment should be used when applying it to soil.

When applying lime to the soil use a spreader and rake it gently into the top layer. You can also use a tiller. It comes in a powder form and a pellet form. The pellet form is much easier to use. Whatever method of application that you choose, you will need to water it in, but you will also need to allow it time to sink down deep into the earth. It is best if you do this outside of the normal growing season. Give it at least about 3 months after application to begin planting your garden or crops.

After you apply the lime you should wait to work in fertilizer and manure to the soil. Lime will interact with the nitrogen that is contained in manure and cause it to release ammonia which can be harmful to plants. If you need to fertilize your soil wait for at least a couple of weeks after applying the lime before you do this. Remember, some plants like acidic soil, so know what your plant needs before applying any product to your garden.



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