VigIIPeaBurner wrote:Mess with the pH first before you do any supplementing with the aluminum sulfate. Check the pH of the leaf mulch. That just might be all you'll have to use and then forgo the aluminum sulfate. Leaf much tends to be on the acidic side, especially if it's from oak variates. Do a few test batchs, blending leaf mulch and your soil together then check how the pH has been changed. Once you home in on the blend, just repeat it on a larger scale around the plant beds.
Got any municipal compost places nearby? All that yuppie yard wast has to go somewhere and that's just the stuff you need too. Pile it on!
Once you get the soil ajusted to target as near to the plants as you feel comfy doing , just mulch near the plants with a few inches of leaf mulch. Keep the entire area moist as they require and most likely earth worms will move in and mix it all together and keep the soil aerated as a result.
Your plant bed isn't too close to a tree line drip edge is it? You would be amazed at how much water a tree sucks out of the ground. It's one of their way of keeping shallow rooted completion on the weak and loosing side.
Thanks for the input. I'm going to recheck the PH again tomorrow. The test kit instructions said to avoid any leaves and other debris but I'll do as you suggested and take a couple of different samples from around the bed. Yes, my county has a municipal compost facility and this year they started offering leaf mulch. There's no telling what's in it though. You park under the conveyor belt and it loads the truck. I've already been once but I'll go back for more and get it worked in. No, there are no trees anywhere near the blackberries. The clay just causes everything run to off. I'm optimistic that I can do this, thanks again, Lisa