PH problems

by Dale Robinson
(Oklahoma)

I put my worms in a windrow for the winter. A farmer gave me some cantaloupes of various degrees of ripeness.


I piled them about a foot deep on one side of the windrow and covered with shredded paper and compost.

I had a flood of fluid at one point and put down coir blocks to absorb the excess fluid. I have since added a layer of green leafs paper and compost as well as distributing the coir across the pile.

I also have a 40 ton pile of castings in a separate pile that were PH 7 when they were piled up. I checked the city water for PH and found that to be about 6.5.

I have been watering both piles with the city water for about 3 months. Now both piles PH out about 3-4. I have spread garden lime on them. I have also used builders lime to PH the city water to 7.5 to water the piles.

Questions.
What is a safe way to raise the PH?
How will the PH changes affect the bacteria and chemical make up?

Where did the acid come from?
Is it cumulative from the city water?
Will ammonia be released and kill the living organisms if the PH is adjusted too fast?

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Dec 28, 2014
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Low PH Issues
by: Pauly

Hey Dale,

Adding a lot of fruits will naturally be very wet and then even wetter over a period of time. You did the right thing in adding plenty of dry carbon material. Although I would stay away from the builders lime. It tends to be more caustic to the worms and microbial activity.

I suggest that people use agricultural lime. It can be up to 95% CaCo3 or even higher. Dolomite lime is good too, which is 50:50 ratio of CaCO3 and MgCO3.

Adding the fruits with the carbon and minerals in layers is more beneficial so that everything vents properly and doesn't become saturated with liquid therefore cutting off the continual flow of oxygen. You have a wet fruit barrier that oxygen can't penetrate causing a low ph and inviting unbeneficial microbes and other unwanted pests.

Also stay away from the city water. It is poison to worms and microbes. I was finally able to convince a few people this year to stop using the chlorinated water on their plants. They said the results we amazing and I went over there to see there tomato plants and they were very tall and healthy looking.

Back in the day I used to use city water but that was when I also used chemical fertilizers. It makes sense that a person can get away with chem fertz and water with chem fertz at the same time. Plants aren't dependent on microbes. They are dependent on chemicals so watering with chemicals is not an issue.

Watering with chlorinated water won't stop you in your tracks per day but it's kind of like the 2 steps forward and 1 step back theory.

I would stop watering and let everything remain just moist to let the system breathe and build back up in beneficial microbes. To water my garden I use water that has been setting out for a few days. This allows the chlorine to gas off.

I even mist my worm bins every now and then sometimes just slightly once a day at top just like a tropical region where it rains once a day but not a deluge.

Hope this gives you some ideas. Take care,

~Pauly

Dec 29, 2014
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PH problems continued
by: Dale Robinson

Thanks Pauly,

Even though I use city water, I fill a barrel first to get rid of the chlorine. It is then pumped out to the beds. I also use the water that runs off of the heat pump/air conditioner.

While the fruits may have been the culprit for the low PH in the windrow containing the worms, it does not account for the low PH in the pile of castings adjacent to it. There is no flow of fluids connecting them.

I have managed to get the PH up a little but I'm afraid that the worms will die off if they remain in the low PH. Was not aware that adding builders lime to achieve a PH of 7.5 would hurt the worms more than a PH of 3.5. Thank you for clearing that up for me.

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