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Re: Dolomite Lime,PLEASE HELP!

In a message dated 97-09-28 11:53:59 EDT, you write:

<< They are planting them tomorrow as a class project.  I prepared  the soil
with compost and super phosphate and  15-15-15. My problem is that  the soil
still doesn't look right to me.  I have never seen a soil so  claylike.  I
used to make pottery, and this soil feels like potter's clay.  It also had
some red dirt at one layer.  Even though I put in plenty of  compost, it
looks clumpy.  Steve said he had heard that adding Dolomite  Lime to the soil
will help breakdown clay.  Does this work and how much  should I add?  They
are planting tomorrow so I would appreciate any advice I can get today. >>

I hope Linda Mann is listening because she knows more about soils than, but I
would not get involved with chemical amendments at this point, and certainly
not without a soil test. I would greatly increase the addition of organics,
including some peat, a lot of compost or leaf mold, and add a little sand or
vermiculite. The clay should be full of nutrients, but will be dense and
therefore pose problems with drainage, with root aeration, and with root
penetration. On the plus side, it will hold water. I offer you the following
small paragraph from the little Brooklyn Botanic Garden Record--SOILS, p41.

Chemical Conditioners
Chemical soil conditioners include lime (calcium carbonate) and gypsum
(calcium sulfate). these compounds, rich in calcium ions, flocculate (bring
together) dispersed soil particles into larger particles. When soil particles
are dispersed, water is unable to penetrate, much in the way a drop of water
is unable to penetrate talcum powder. Soils high in sodium (sodic soils) tend
to be greatly dispersed. These soils are generally located in arid regions
and in areas irrigated with water high in sodium. Lime and gypsum flocculate
sodic soils by exchanging calcium ions for sodium ions. When soil particles
flocculate and form aggregates, aeration and drainage is improved. Chemical
conditioners are most effective in soils with this unique condition and are
not useful for "loosening" compacted soils or soils with clay content. In
non- sodic soils, lime and gypsum are applied primarily to affect pH or add

So there is that. Now, the reason the lime works on your blossom-end rot on
your tomatoes is actually the calcium. Or so my county Extension Agent told
me, and that is who you might give a buzz to in the morning to talk more
about your new bed, and your poor apricot. 

Flocculate. Today's new word!! Use it ten times and it's yours!!

Anner Whitehead, Richmond, Va
Henry Hall henryanner@aol.com

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