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Question: 693-612
I have recently learned that acid rain is a thing of the past. Our Florida rain is running a Ph of 7 - 7.2. I would actually like to make it a slight bit more acid, say 6.8 in the rain barrels we collect. Alternatively, I could do it on an as used basis, by the bucketful, as I draw down the supply. The gardener's manual says to simply add magnesium sulphate to make the soil more acidic. That may create problems I don't want since it might tend to imbalance the supply of potassium and might not affect the water I use that much. A slightly acidic water will tend to absorb more minerals and nutrients. I was wondering whether I could add a low cost acid like white vinegar to the water in a proper proportion to bring it down to the desired Ph? Might there be better candidates than white vinegar? Is magnesium sulphate really the best way to go because the soil organisms and other factors will tend to restore the correct balance, if I should happen to over do it? Dave, Florida

Mort's Answer:
Any acid will do. Grass does prefer pH of 7.0 or higher. You are right. Vegetables and flowers will prefer an acid pH, which is lower than neutral at 7.0. I would recommend the you use seaweed and ocean water as an additive. I have seen this work first hand. Your vegetables will have more flavor and the flowers will have a greater range of color. If the soil gets to acidic from year to year than you can back off on the amount of additives that you are incorporating. Seaweed and ocean water have all the essential minerals that magnesium sulphate alone can not supply.

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