Acidic soil made better or worse by adding manure+pine bedding combo?

Discussion in 'Gardening' started by QChickieMama, Dec 30, 2014.

  1. QChickieMama

    QChickieMama Songster

    Oct 1, 2011
    My garden is VERY acidic. This winter I'm adding 3 bins of composted food waste, quail manure, newspaper, and horse manure. I'm hoping to bring the soil back to neutral.

    As I've dumped loads of manure in the garden, I'm thinking: oh, no! What if the pine bedding that's mixed in the horse manure is making my garden MORE acidic than the manure is helping it.

    So, what do you all say? Add it or not?

  2. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Crowing Premium Member

    We market garden and I also live in an area of acidic soil. However, the carbon value of adding wood shavings, liberally dosed with chicken poop of course, is still so incredibly valuable for soil amending.

    What you need to consider is that apart form these amendments you talked about, I did not see you mention lime. Lime is absolutely essential to soil building here, and I suspect it would benefit your gardens as well. Talk to your local Ag Extension Agent for some testing and further guidance.
  3. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    Nov 7, 2012
    You can get in trouble by adding lime without a soil test. I agree with Fred, that lime is a good soil additive... if your pH warrants it. I live in Maine where our soil is very acid. However, I've found that if I add lime or even stove ash without paying attention to soil pH, I can bump the pH up to 8, which is way too high. So, my recommendation is to get that soil tested. In terms of the stable litter: shavings would be acid, while manure is basic, so it would depend on the ratio. Then, there's the school of thought, that if your soil is healthy, pH becomes not so important. When in doubt, test. If it's not that important, let your veggies tell you if they are happy. You can buy a pH meter for not too much money, or there are the liquid or paper test kits. And lastly, your country agricultural extension office should have test kits available for a more comprehensive test... not a bad idea to do every few years to see if you're on track regarding amendments.
  4. QChickieMama

    QChickieMama Songster

    Oct 1, 2011
    I'm in central NC where our soil is generally slightly acidic due to the pine trees. However, when I ordered loads of garden dirt last season, I got terribly acidic junky soil. I never thought to ask the pH of the soil before I bought it.

    A friend tested it for me last spring & said too acidic. I don't know the #. I have added some Epsom salts, a bag of lime, and manure to this point. I guess I could ask my friend to test it again for me & then I'd have a better idea of how much amending would be helpful.

    But it's good to hear that perhaps pine bedding plus manure is still a good thing to add.
  5. 19disbre

    19disbre Chirping

    Jan 26, 2015
    Pine will make it more acidic.

  6. NEChickenNoob

    NEChickenNoob Chirping

    May 13, 2014
    SE Connecticut
    You can buy PH tests at most garden stores and easily on Amazon (Go Prime!) It's as simple as following the directions and you get a result fairly quickly. It's especially good when you want to have different PH in different beds (I.E. - Tomatoes like a slightly acidic soil. I would also recommend you get the more comprehensive kits such as this: or if you want to skip the Agriculture extension tests, you can go with these: The key to good soil is providing not just nitrogen and the other major nutrients to plant health and PH, but getting the right PH for the plant, and the right trace-nutrients. Plants are not unlike most animals and they need small amounts of some other nutrients. The easiest way is to get a kit from you extension office or follow their directions (normally bag a quart of dirt) and sent it off for testing. The problem is, some offices are slower than others, and you may need the results faster than they can get them back. I personally use the first home kit and send off my soil tests to the extension. The reason I do it that way, I try to get the big amendments done up front with the home test kit, and then I can fine tune the other amendments as well as the major amendments (which by this time, it's minor adjustments).
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2015

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