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Author Topic: Calcifuge[Acid loving plant] soil blends?  (Read 177 times)

Sunshine

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Calcifuge[Acid loving plant] soil blends?
« on: June 16, 2021, 08:47:37 am »

I'm ramping up my indoor propagation of tea and coffee for resale and looking for a good blend to save a few bucks on the soil front. I bought some coast of maine soil which is a gorgeous fluffy nutrient-dense black acidic soil but in the interest of not taking out a second mortgage I figure I'm better off making a blend since I'll be needing so much of it.

I imagine blueberries are similar in the sense that they too are calcifuges. Out of all the videos I've seen they all use some sort of 1-1-1 blend of pine bark for acidity, peat for acidity and water retention, and some sort of compost/nutrient dense medium for blueberries. Some also add nutrients like kelp, chicken manure, etc for an added boost of growing power.

Now, my question for you plant geniuses is this - Would a well balanced soil geared towards blueberries also be suitable for other calcifuges such as coffee and tea? I understand pH is only one aspect of a soil and that the nutrient blends may be different, however I think a good blueberry base blend of pine bark fines/peat/compost would also be good for the coffee and tea, with a few tweaks to the additives....

Thoughts?
« Last Edit: June 16, 2021, 08:48:38 am by Sunshine »
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valec

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Re: Calcifuge[Acid loving plant] soil blends?
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2021, 12:39:20 pm »

Maybe coffee grounds mixed into the soil? It's said to make it acidic, but I don't know how acidic. If you need below pH 5 it may be insufficient.
In general I try to avoid peat, for the structure coc choir is nice, but that doesn't have any nutrients and a neutral pH.
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modern

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Re: Calcifuge[Acid loving plant] soil blends?
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2021, 05:35:13 pm »

Large growers tend to use Sulfuric Acid to acidify the soil over a period of time but it is a little dangerous and you don't do this after planted.

I would go the cheap-o route and use water/vinegar mix each watering or amend the soil with dolomite or any other rock the would slighly acidify the soil mix. Or does dolomite make neutralize acidity can't remember.

Personally instead of using expensive premade or specific soil (seed starting mix is very good but locally its expensive here) I tend to buy Bulk Gardensoil loam (generic soil people add to gardens not for pots really) and amend with rocks like pumice or perlite or even crushed granite(whats found locally and cheap). Check the pH to see if needs correcting I don't think the plant will suffer in natural soil mix and watering with vinegar idk ratio but prob 1/4? each time will do just fine. Easiest route would be using a heavy peat mix since you are gonna resell the long term of the soil isn't important and will keep until maybe a year after you sell it? Just suggest the buyers a good soil mix for longterm when they replant.
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Sunshine

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Re: Calcifuge[Acid loving plant] soil blends?
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2021, 01:47:45 am »

We had sent a sample of our 650sqft backyard garden soil in to be tested a couple months ago and it came back at 7.8ph. That explains why my high bush blueberries slowly died off. Damn city water.

We ended up adding a good 60lbs of sulfur/buffer to the soil and started using sub-neutral ph rainwater with a pond pump to water instead of the municipality 8ph+ crap.

We also used a ton of ground lump charcoal mixed with fertilizer as a pseudo biochar trying to mimic the soil in the amazon, terra preta. I expected it to be very high ph since potash is very high.

To make a long story short, I did quite a bit of research on how to acidity soils, etc and to find a cheap way to lower the biochar ph. It ended up being perfect as it was at around 6. Vinegar being so cheap definitely popped up on my radar in my research.

The issue with vinegar is that it binds with certain things and creates undesirable stuff. I forget what it creates exactly, but reading into it was enough to turn me off of it. Sulfur on the other hand, combines with magnesium in the soil to make magnesium sulfate, aka espom salts, in addition to lowering ph.

I'm not too well versed in acid effects on soil components so if I'm wrong I would be surprised...but im reasonably sure adding vinegar can be bad for the soil.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2021, 01:48:45 am by Sunshine »
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Sunshine

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Re: Calcifuge[Acid loving plant] soil blends?
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2021, 01:52:13 am »

Easiest route would be using a heavy peat mix since you are gonna resell the long term of the soil isn't important and will keep until maybe a year after you sell it? Just suggest the buyers a good soil mix for longterm when they replant.
Hmm, this is actually not a bad idea. I mean, I dont want to sell a plant thats going to die in the near future, however by simply using a slightly acidic peat along with some fertilizer, and making it known that it will require ferts in the future, I think thats a good cheap way to get them going without breaking the bank.

Thanks for your input bud.
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Mangrove

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Re: Calcifuge[Acid loving plant] soil blends?
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2021, 02:25:12 am »

Wouldn't it be best to study the soil conditions (alongside altitude and climate etc.) Of where c. Sinensis and C. Arabica are native to and try to imitate that? What coordinates/latitude are you at? Elevation?
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Sunshine

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Re: Calcifuge[Acid loving plant] soil blends?
« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2021, 07:25:03 am »

Wouldn't it be best to study the soil conditions (alongside altitude and climate etc.) Of where c. Sinensis and C. Arabica are native to and try to imitate that? What coordinates/latitude are you at? Elevation?

Mimicking exact indigenous conditions is going to be next to impossible. My hope is to keep all of these plants which aren't hardy up to my zone of 5b growing in pots in the winter, and outside in the summer. I'm trying my best to focus on the aspects of the environment I can actually control such as soil pH/drainage/porosity/water retention, watering schedule, nutrient additives, sunlight hours and intensity, pot size and shape, and to a lesser degree humidity.

I'm opting for 4 1/2" terra cotta pots to start with a more frequent watering schedule as opposed to a less frequent/plastic pot setup. The breathability of terra cotta is very appealing to me. I'll stick with this style pot for now, at least until they're bigger. In which case coffee and tea will get large deeper pots, as they're trees, and blueberries will get shallower wider pots as they like to spread out more.

Coffee likes broken/indirect sunlight and not full sun, as I found out my 2nd year with it when it got a bad sun burn. Both tea and blueberries like bright light, but do best with indirect in the hottest part of the day.

I believe coffee and blueberries' native soil is very humus heavy, though finding pure humus for cheap is next to impossible around here. Hell, I can't even find it locally at all, let alone for a good price. Coco coir or peat could make good substitutes with a higher N value nutrient addition, especially peat which tends to help the acidity be on the low side...

I find the pine bark fines very attractive for a soil component since they are larger and have a 'softness' not unlike vermiculite. It allows very large soil air pockets which are moreso important for the blueberries than the other two.

Does anyone happen to know someone in china? haha
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valec

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Re: Calcifuge[Acid loving plant] soil blends?
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2021, 02:56:57 pm »

Some other ideas for acidifying your soil may be:
- grape pomace (if they grow wine near your place that's easy to get in arbitrary quantities)
- pine needles
- oak leave compost should also be very acidic.
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modern

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Re: Calcifuge[Acid loving plant] soil blends?
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2021, 10:31:51 pm »

Easiest route would be using a heavy peat mix since you are gonna resell the long term of the soil isn't important and will keep until maybe a year after you sell it? Just suggest the buyers a good soil mix for longterm when they replant.
Hmm, this is actually not a bad idea. I mean, I dont want to sell a plant thats going to die in the near future, however by simply using a slightly acidic peat along with some fertilizer, and making it known that it will require ferts in the future, I think thats a good cheap way to get them going without breaking the bank.

Thanks for your input bud.

Ok so going over my own soil mix which I use and seeing what other cheap additives are available I saw that granite is slightly acidic so you get buy pulverized/grit granite to "fluff" your soil and as you water and it breaks down with years it will be naturally make the soil acidic. It gives a nice weight to the pot so won't topple and doesn't break down quickly. I personally use around 1 cm large gravel granite chips which I found for 6usd for 40 kg bag. I bought some red rocks thinking was hard clay but just a decorative slick rock for 12 usd at 20 kg bag (should have bought 2 bags of the granite as it has a nice appearance with contrasting cacti over red rocks). Obviously you need to see what works for you but I'm very happy with my local granite and using cheap bulk garden soil. Obviously if you can afford better quality soil go for it and just pass the cost on the the buyer just don't go overboard.

edit: I suggest pulverized/sand/grit granite so that the ph adjustment is more noticeable but not sure how much it will change. Maybe a top dressing will help acidify the soil when watering? Not sure also look into Ammonium Sulphate?
« Last Edit: June 18, 2021, 10:35:32 pm by modern »
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