November 25, 2012

Interesting Water and Soil Tests -- Updated

I received the TDS meter today, so began to test various waters and combos with soil:
(P.S. by the way, the federal standards for safe human drinking water is no more than 400 ppm TDS)
UPDATED test list

source of water                            ph                    TDS


Mom's spring water                       7.5                 411 ppm
our well water                               7.5               1466 ppm
our well water after Berkley filter    7.5               1466 ppm

rain water in October                    6.5                 109 ppm
rain water in November                  4                    84 ppm
yet to test:
Harlem city water
Dodson city water
bottled spring water
bottled distilled water


In October:
1 cup distilled water (7 ph)
ran two times through 4 inch pot of
freshly mixed soil                        5.5                did not test

In November:
1 cup of Mom's water (7.5 ph)
ran two times through 4 inch pot of
> potting mix                                5                  did not test
> Splendiferous plant displaying symptoms
                                                  4 or lower        751 ppm

tests comparing soil ingredients and mixes:

1 cup Mom's water (7.5 ph)
ran two times through 4 inch pot of

Miracle Gro AV Soil                  4
Glacier Gold Compost                5
my potting mix                            6
a plant from my friend (different mix) 4

November rain water (4 ph) with
1/4 strength Jack's Classic 20-20-20
                                                  5                   did not test

Mom's spring water (7.5 ph) with
Neptune's Harvest
> very dilute Liquid Seaweed 0-0.1-1
                                               7 or 7.5            did not test
> very dilute Fish Fertilizer 2-4-1
                                               4 or lower         did not test
powdered super phosphate      3.5

Jack's Classic 20-20-20          6.5
Schultz AV                              6.5
Dyna Gro 7-9-5                      4.5
Dyna Bloom 3-12-6                3.5
AlgoFlash 7-9-5                       4

concentrated WA solution:
1 tsp cottonwood ash per 8 oz. mom's spring water (7.5 ph)
ph tested way off the chart so not included because I couldn't
figure accurately.

November rain water (4 ph) with
> 1 TB WA solution per 4 oz.      7.5
> 1 TB + 2 tsp  per 4 oz.             10. + very purple (past blue?)

Poured 1 cup of 1 TB WA per 4 oz.
over 4 inch pot of potting mix      6.5

wood ash test below (Note the test tube is purple... but not the 'red' on the acid end of the color chart, but blue-purple of the other end, or off the other end!)

I did the wood ash tests after reading all I could find in 'modern' books and online about adjusting soil ph in pots and while mixing soil.  All mentioned limestone, lime, etc.   Brief mentions of wood ash were included as part of an 'etc.' listing.  I didn't have any lime, and am not going to town.  So, I decided to read the old AV and gardening books, and came up with the above concentrate solution that was used for outdoor use.  I will test the concentrate Wood Ash solution in a day or two and see how it changes.

I was surprised at the very acidic ph of the mixed fish fertilizer!  Good thing I tested it! 
Now I am wondering about the other fertilizers that I take for granted!  When I have lots of  'good' water, I have more testing to do!  (My bottle of test solution was for 'indefinite tests, ample for typical gardener'! Do you think I am typical???)

I just tested the other fertilizers I have used or plan on using on my violets.  I was surprised at the acid effect of the two Dyna formulas.  Also the AlgoFlash which is the fertilizer I used on my greenhouse plants this past spring.

I will get 'good' water in a day or two.  In the meantime, I have one gallon of the October rainwater that tests with an okay ph.  If any violet needs watering in the next day or two, I will have that.

I found three violets, including the Splendiferous, that show symptoms of limp, yellowing or dying older leaves, with some possible root damage (ie:  soil mix in pot staying damp longer than normal)  These three are blooming fine, but overall plant vigor is slowing, leaf and blossom stems are stiff and darker colored, backs of leaves showing some degree of purple coloring, and center young leaves are very slightly twisted and tight.

These three plants will get 'flushed' with Mom's spring water and a small amount of the Wood Ash concentrate.  I will pour the water through the pot.  Then I will set the pots on a bath towel, which seems to always soak lots of water from the pot.

Before and after photos will be taken, I hope!  :)


Laurie in Maine said...

Yes, pictures of all this testing! Did a google for the meter you mentioned...? My if not expired/very close pH test kit for fresh water gave opposite results from what I expected. This summer it said my water was better than rain water. (well, I assume closer to the green end of the little color than blue is desired?) Mom's water tested scary-blue this weekend. Considering a new kit...but wonder about better test options? Watching your mad-scientist-skills with great enthusiasm!!

Mrs John said...

test options??? ... open to 'better' suggestions there too!
I bought my test kit just a month or so ago, from Ebay, so don't know the reliability of the seller. I think any store would also keep the test kits forever or until sold!!! :( Anyway, I bought a kit marketed by HydroFarm company... a good long-standing name in hypodonics. ??? It did give me tests consistent with the results I knew from about 10 years ago when we had three or four of our water sources tested professionally. Mom's water was nearly the same as before, as was our well water, actually a little less alkaline than before. But I suppose all water sources can vary from season to season and year to year??? The TDS meter was also off Ebay, and I purchased a kit that was not shipped from China (all are probably made in China), and that included calibraton solution. I have not double checked the calibration, AS I RAN OUT OF 'NEUTRAL' WATER!!! :) I will be getting some distilled water to do more tests later! :)
In multiple tests of the same solution over the past two days, the TDS meter seems to be consistent.

Laurie in Maine said...

Went into the our "forest" Sunday morning mining for Do it Yourself "Peat" substitute. In my Absence of Earth theory I'm going to experiment with plantlets just separated from the mother with local "dirt". Actually I scraped the new debris away at the base of a pine, cedar, old stump, fallen log and under rocks of an old rock wall...mixed, sifted, baked at 225 for 1/2 hour. (Seriously, this looked better than stuff I've bought! I hope they test out well!! Mixed with Vermiculite/Perlite as usual)

They are sealed in a takeout pie keeper. (Time for pie!) One in center is from regular mix.

Any thoughts on pasteurizing "soil"? Seems like you've written about it before... maybe old MSN Group days?

Mrs John said...

Yummmm... I think I would take the Maine forest peat over pie! :)
I just read the 'old version' of the Grow to Show, the Wilson AV book, and an older Free houseplant book.... and there lots of mentions of 'real' loam. Free said 'you should pasturize soil' but he said he didn't, but maybe to be safe you should. I didn't pasturize the soil when I added it about 7 years ago to battle the soil mealies, because I wanted the natural nematodes, etc. to attack the mealies. This summer, I used a bagged compost made here in Montana, and I did not pasturize it, even in my AV leaf pots. I do think I would pasturize soil that had been used, such as in a garden, or yard, or barnyard... or roadside, etc. Really 'virgin' soil that was naturally growing grass, moss, etc... I probably would not...???? Maybe you could do another experiment with pasturized versus unpasturized??? My mom, and I, like to add at least 1/4 garden dirt, unpasturized, to our veggie seed starting flats in the house, such as parsley, tomatos, peppers, etc... seems like we get better germinatin Higher %, when we have some real dirt in the seed pot. Mom uses 100% dirt, but I like adding some of my AV soil with the dirt. For the violets, I wouldn't use garden dirt, but I went and filled a bucket of dirt from the old sheepshed on my gram's place... didnt have animals in it for nearly 15 years.... also YUMM!!! :)