calling all hort nerds--soil acidifier?

crhabq

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I'm pretty new to bonsai, I started last summer. When I saw that many of my trees were getting leaf burn last summer, I went to a local garden nursery to ask about this. The guy at the nursery thought this was probably salt buildup in the soil due to the calcium levels in our tap water. He suggested a soil acidifier w/ iron. I used it a few times last summer without noticing any ill-effects (not a lot of positive ones, but hey, the damage as already done). Here is a link to the water analysis for my area http://www.abcwua.org/files/waterquality/datatables-2008/zone12.htlm. The product was ferti loam soil acidifier with iron. Would an acid lover fert work just as well or better? The leaf burn was mostly on the japanese maples and the linden trees that I had last summer. This could be due to high heat and winds. Will soil acidification help mitigate high heat/winds? Thanks for your help.

Ray
 
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Smoke

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Being in New Mexico in summer is probably an aweful lot like what I have here in the central valley, California. Weeks at a time the temps will be 107 or more. Here we keep maples and most other diciduous trees under 70 percent shade cloth and use a product called Cloud-Cover to keep the leaves from turning brown on the edges. The Cloud-Cover will keep the leaves from transpiring faster than they can draw up moisture.

Hope that helps, Al
 

Bonsai Nut

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I agree with Al. I get leaf burn on my maples if I'm not really careful. Shade cloth is the only way to go. (Or at least the only thing I have found to make a difference) I will have to check out the "Cloud Cover" product.

As far as soil acidifier goes, you can try mixing peat moss into your soil mix. Also, Miracid is probably the most widely available acid fertilizer out there - they sell it pretty much anywhere Miracle Grow is found. I use Miracid frequently without any noticeable negative effect. It does not prevent leaf burn on my maples, however. Only shade cloth does.
 

PaulH

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Many years a go a demonstrator at our club (I'm not positive, but I think it was Warren Hill) suggested adding gypsum to soil mix for maples to prevent leaf burn. I tried it and it seemed to work.
 

crhabq

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Thanks guys,
I've made a shade structure with 50% shade cloth and I'm hoping that will help. I'll check out the cloud cover too. I've been trying to stick with organic ferts but I might start dosing with Miracid too. I take, Nut, that your talking about spagum moss, wouldn't the peat clog the soil structure? Thanks for all the advise.

Ray
 

crhabq

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Hey, Smoke
I just ordered a qrt of the cloud cover. I'm already looking forward to some nice fall color other than not-so-nice crispy brown. Thanks for the help.
Ray
 

Smoke

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ahh...yes I like Fall color too!:D
 

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greerhw

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Hey Ray, my collection consists of all conifers, I'm sure you know they are acid lovers. Since I'm retired, I have a lot of time on my hands and can indulge my passion for bonsai. My water supply is from the city, so it has a lot of chemicals in it. The Ph range out of the tap is usually about 7.5 which is not that bad really, pretty close to neutral. I'm very anal about giving my trees the best chance of thriving in my climate, so I keep a 30 gal. plastic garbage container filled with the water I use on my trees. I fill it and let it set for a day until the chlorine has dissipated and I add 4 0z of white vinegar to lower the Ph to 5.5, overkill, probably, but like I said, I'm retired.

Harry
 

crhabq

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Harry,
Thanks for the tip. I'll look into setting up a similiar arrangement. I like the maples alot, but when I look around at landscapes here you can't hardly throw a stick without hitting a juniper or a pine. I have a few junis and I got some Western White pines from Brent. I'm still in the stage where I mostly just grow trunks. I still have a lot to learn. Pine care I find a bit over my head right now but I'm slowly learning. Thanks again.
Ray
 

TheSteve

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Tea, coffee or,as stated, vinegar will acidify soil. I've heard of people mixing tea leaves or coffee grounds into soil for azaleas.
 

greerhw

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Tea, coffee or,as stated, vinegar will acidify soil. I've heard of people mixing tea leaves or coffee grounds into soil for azaleas.

Since my soil mix containes no organics to hold nutrients, the acid needs for my trees has to come from other sources, like water and fertilizer.

Harry
 
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TheSteve

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Pouring weak tea onto the soil is an amendment. The reference to inclusion was just a tip for those who do use organics.
 

milehigh_7

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Being in New Mexico in summer is probably an aweful lot like what I have here in the central valley, California. Weeks at a time the temps will be 107 or more. Here we keep maples and most other diciduous trees under 70 percent shade cloth and use a product called Cloud-Cover to keep the leaves from turning brown on the edges. The Cloud-Cover will keep the leaves from transpiring faster than they can draw up moisture.

Hope that helps, Al

Hey Al, does the humic acid drop the ph much?
 
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When I water, I use a Miracle grow feeder and a PH meter. I put a little Miracid along with a product called "PH Down" until the PH in the container is between 3.5 & 3.8 and by the time it mixes with the water from the tap (which is around 7.0) the ph is about 5.8. As the mixture gets diluted with tap water, the ph slowly rises so I stop and reload when it gets too high.

Feeding plants with PH around 5.6 - 5.8 enables the plant to take up nutrients, that's why I add a little Miracid (30% - 40% Strength). If the ph is too high, for some plants, the nutrients are locked out - especially pines.

Cal Juniper
 

crhabq

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Thanks for all the help! I've set up some plastic pails to let the water de-chorlinate and have added white vinegar to acidify it. I have a pH meter I got from ebay to watch the pH level of the soils, water, etc. I could add coffee grinds to the soil (Mmmm, coffee) but I worry about introducing fungal problems as it breaks down. (Anyone have experience with this? I could just throw the grinds into the water and make a weak coffee.)
Yes, Al, how does the humic acid affect the pH of the soil? I've started to use humic acid (conservatively) and would be interested in what you have to say about this.
Thanks again for all the advice.
Ray
 

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