Soil Problems
Q.

soil salinity

Zone 92843 | [email protected] added on May 21, 2016 | Answered

I accidentally watered my raised bed vegetable garden with softened water. I have a 1' deep, 2' x 5' raised bed with very nice OMRI certified organic compost, vermiculite, peat moss growing medium and now I am afraid that I polluted the whole thing with salt water. I only made the mistake of watering with softened water twice, so maybe I am overreacting. Do I need to leech the soil and add new compost/nutrients and/or take further steps to measure the salinity of the soil and, if so, what is the best cheap way to get an accurate read on soil salinity? Salinity meters can get quite expensive and I assume the cheap ones don't work, so any advice will be much appreciated. How likely is it that the two times I watered with softened water are going to ruin this year's or future crops in my raised bed vegetable garden? Our water hardness is 17 grains/gallon, so I think that means there is approximately 500mg of salt per gallon of softened water. If I added say two gallons of softened water to the raised bed, then I added approximately 1000mg of salt. If I had to leech, how much unsalted water would I have to add to feel comfortable that I had leeched out all the salt? Thanks.

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Humus
Answered on May 21, 2016

Hi there
I have worked with cationic ion exchange for some years now. I also garden seriously since some 8 yrs

First:
If you have 17 GPG hardness and soften it, you DON'T have salt (NaCl) coming out of your tap. You have sodium (Na).
How much Sodium? Basically it will add +/-150mg/l

If you really had seriously salty (NaCl) water, your plants would drop dead

There are some tropical plants where that might be a problem. Not vegetables...

Now, best water for these veggies would be rain water. Tap water is just fine too. I have lots of times used softened water because I forgot to put it on bypass. This year I put a wee sign by my garden tap... I know what it means...

So don't worry,be happy
Hope this helps

Peter in Brussels, Belgium

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