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"sandy mustard" deposit in soil

San Jose, CA

Not sure if this is the right forum to post this but when digging up a planter hole in the yard I came across a fairly large and unusual "mustard" colored deposit with a sandy texture. The hole is where the lawn used to be which is a layer of topsoil sitting atop of what normally is adobe clay. Normally when I find something odd I just dig it up and throw the dirt away, but in this case the deposit is faily large. The sand I'm not worried about, but the mustard color I am. Does anyone know what it might be? I want to make sure I don't plant something in a dead zone that's going to kill it. Picture is attached that kind of shows the mustard colored sand in the deep part of the hole. Thanks!

Thumbnail by Bunson
Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Is there anywhere in your yard, under-used, where you can mix the sandy subsoil with a little adobe clay and compost?

Or top-dress and scratch in a little screened clay plus compost, onto this odd spot.
Try some average and some fussy seeds and see what grows there.

As likely as "toxic" is "it would make your clay drain better and harm nothing".

It might even be a native source of something like iron.

Corey


Kalispell, MT(Zone 4b)

Or sulfur. Color is heavy metal related. Put some in water and ph test it. If Iron no change is sulfur it will bubble and acidify.

Syracuse, NY(Zone 5a)

If it was sulfur you'd just smell it and know. Maybe iron? Hopefully

Kalispell, MT(Zone 4b)

Sulfur acids,and bases are not discernable. Just Oxides, and Sulfides.

Syracuse, NY(Zone 5a)

Ooh! Someone who knows his or her sulfides, oxides, & sulfates ! can you tell me will baking powder turn a Hydrangea blue?
Random, but i just gotta know if it's the same sodium aluminum sulfate.

Wake Forest, NC(Zone 7b)

I'd use baking soda not baking powder I think it's cheaper too. I used baking soda when I had tropical fish to make the water more alkaline - the same thing that makes hydrangea blue (or is it pink for alkaline and blue for acid, I thought). And sulfur will make it acid (used everywhere for bluberries which need very acid soil).

Kalispell, MT(Zone 4b)

Hydrangeas turn blue in acidic soil. Therefore sulfur based fertilizer is the source for this. Bicarb (soda, baking power) is a neutralizer of acids and leads to neutral PH. It will not help acidic soils change color of hydrangeas. You need to alkalize the soil to achieve this. Wood ash will do this in acidic soils. BE CAREFULL on how much! It is a salt that will really hurt or kill if used too much. I actually use it to kill grass and weeds in my neutral soil. There are cultivars of hydrangeas that tend to be pink in neutral soil.

Wake Forest, NC(Zone 7b)

I am sure from reading these above posts that Soferdig knows much more than I do.

I got the tropical fish advice from a web site of experienced tropical fish keepers - As well as I can recall, the advice to get my well water from Ph of 7.2 (yes, after 48 hrs of standing to let the CO2 bubble out) to 7.5 or 7.6 was some mix of BiCarb plus epsom salt. I don't recall the mix. I established it in a 30 gal container by trial and error and testing after I put in something like one level tablespoon of BiCarb and a part of a 1/4th teaspoon. I checked fish tank Ph quite often and before I changed fish water I checked my replacement water and got Ph of 7.5 reliably.

Maybe the BiCarb neutralizes the acid left in the water by bubbling of CO2 up to the top and the little bit of epsom salt raised the Ph? I am always curious about why things work but chemistry was not my strong suit in college.

Kalispell, MT(Zone 4b)

It is simple combination of the below:
NaHCO3 is mainly prepared by the Solvay process, which is the reaction of calcium carbonate, sodium chloride, ammonia, and carbon dioxide in water. It is produced on the scale of about 100,000 tonnes/year (as of 2001).[6]

NaHCO3 may be obtained by the reaction of carbon dioxide with an aqueous solution of sodium hydroxide. The initial reaction produces sodium carbonate:
CO2 + 2 NaOH → Na2CO3 + H2O
Further addition of carbon dioxide produces sodium bicarbonate, which at sufficiently high concentration will precipitate out of solution:
Na2CO3 + CO2 + H2O → 2 NaHCO3
Commercial quantities of baking soda are also produced by a similar method: soda ash, mined in the form of the ore trona, is dissolved in water and treated with carbon dioxide. Sodium bicarbonate precipitates as a solid from this method:
Na2CO3 + CO2 + H2O → 2 NaHCO3

It works like this:
Sodium bicarbonate reacts with acetic acid (found in vinegar) and presents a simple and showy demonstration of a chemical reaction. The products of the ensuing two-stage reaction are sodium acetate, water, and carbon dioxide:
NaHCO3 + CH3COOH → CH3COONa + H2O + CO2(g)
Sodium bicarbonate reacts with bases such as sodium hydroxide to form carbonates:
NaHCO3 + NaOH → Na2CO3 + H2O
Both of these reactions form a "neutral" PH that allows the water to move up (with acids) and down (with bases) to create a neutral PH = 7
Magnesium is used for other purposes, primarily for the lime in the water.
Magnesium sulfate heptahydrate is also used to maintain the magnesium concentration in marine aquaria which contain large amounts of stony corals as it is slowly depleted in their calcification process. In a magnesium-deficient marine aquarium calcium and alkalinity concentrations are very difficult to control because not enough magnesium is present to stabilize these ions in the saltwater and prevent their spontaneous precipitation into calcium carbonate = Lime.

Wake Forest, NC(Zone 7b)

Soferdig,
You certainly snowed me - It was 1956 when I took (engineering grade) of general chemistry at Univ of FL. My roommate was a pre-dental student and he was always taking inorganic and organic chemistry - I stayed away from it. I'm sure what you demonstrated above would have been clear to me then but I just don't seem to remember it now. (I graduated in electrical engineering and never saw a chem class again). Thanks anyhow.

Syracuse, NY(Zone 5a)

©_©° my eyes glazed over and my brain went a little mushy. Seems all that stuff i learned in college left when i did. To think i was a geology major....
So did we decide if the deposit was sulfur yet? Lol

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I thought he said :

Here's how they make it.

It soaks up H+ to give off CO2, or combines with bases to form salts.

He just gave all the details ... I love details!

Corey

Kalispell, MT(Zone 4b)

Ooops I am sorry. I am a veterinarian and HAD to ace chem to move to the next level. It is common sense to me due to using it all of my life. Sorry guys. Thanks for the bale out Corey.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

In a very rude TV show called "Drawn Together", they showed how a math test problem looked to two different ethnic groups.

To one ethnic group (I forget which, maybe Anglos), it looked like a blurry, writhing mass of incomprehenisble and threatening symbols.

To the Asian student ... it looked like "7".

>> due to using it all of my life.

In this case it's not ability, just how recently the knowledge was crammed into our heads, or how recently it was used. I did skim over the Solvay process. Looking back, I needn't have feared it, but I thought you might be getting into something like the Haber–Bosch process. (BTW - almost NOTHING is more complicated than photosythesis, yet leaves and algae manage that very well, thank you very much.)

But I looked for a while to find the "H+" or "hydronium meaning "acid" ... it took a while to find "acetic acid" which admittedly is a better way to say it outside of a chemistry class.

But that reminded me of the prof who got flustered then kept getting the vowels wrong when he tried to spell "fruit fly" on the blackboard ... and finally used "Drosophila melanogaster" because that was easier for him to remember.

We had a biochem class with 6 big blackboards, 3 of which would slide up the wall so all 6 were visibke at once. That porf drew the entire biosynthetic pathway for synthesizing one of the more complicated vitamins ... FROM MEMORY. Then, in case anyone failed to notice, he went back to his desk and flipped through his notes, glancing up now and then and nodding.

We gave him a standing ovation.

Corey

Kalispell, MT(Zone 4b)

Yes a mind is best if constantly used. Most of us do with the items of our interest. I rarely read fiction because non-fiction is my thrill. So any movie stars, famous people, who's who are not in my vocabulary, but the above is a constant evaluation that I use to make my alkaline soil a garden delight. I think different things than many, which limits my ability to converse, with interest, with many. Corey you are my garden "soul mate" because your mind is constantly evaluating chemistry, physics, and new evaluations of the problems we all face. No I am not bragging just telling you I live in a world of thought and not conversation. I enjoy my solitude and self, requiring the "garden" to be happy with my constant thoughts, If I watch the news I obsess about how to fix the problem all day in my mind. HOW HORRIBLE!

This message was edited Jul 31, 2011 10:30 AM

Thumbnail by Soferdig
Syracuse, NY(Zone 5a)

There should be a "like" button. While my thoughts aren't exactly the same but the wheels are always turnin. Gardening keeps me out of my head and out in the yard. :)

Kalispell, MT(Zone 4b)

In a world of interaction every 15 seconds to 15 minutes we need the mind not to process all the threats, interactions, recognition, support, care, anger, frustration, ....................... The garden feeds none of these. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Thumbnail by Soferdig
Wake Forest, NC(Zone 7b)

From my memory (engineering): Pi =3.14159265 (didn't ever use more than that so that's all I remember). Oh yeah, also, I was writing a contract one day and remembered 69897 for some reason. It really bugged me as to what it was. I tried to think of old girl friends' phone numbers and such, off and on for about 6 months.. Then finally I remembered that the logarithm (base 10) of 5 is .69897.

We used lots of digits when simulating missile trajectories on an old computer in 1969.

Paul

Wake Forest, NC(Zone 7b)

Maybe some of the spouses (current or ex) of scientists or engineers will see why we are hard to converse with.

Kalispell, MT(Zone 4b)

I just saw the movie "Pi" and wow! The number Pi has (at the time of the movie) been taken out to 15,000,000 integers and still no end. Though there is a sequence of numbers that repeat, that repetition is found in other numerical sequences in science, microbiology, and quantum physics. Art films are also my weakness.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Thanks, Soferdig. "Enquiring minds want to know."

>> Maybe some of the spouses (current or ex) of scientists or engineers will see why we are hard to converse with.

I figure that, if characters in "reality TV shows" are socially acceptable as topics of conversation, the most arcane branches of astrophysics and biochemistry OUGHT to be, also.

But try this experiment in a roomful of "normal" people. First look up the name of a contestant on American Idol or some contemporary film or pop 'star', let's call him or her "Nebbish Blowhard".

Go to one end of the room and ask "How about that Nebbish Blowhard?"
Go to the other end and ask "How about that dark matter?"

See which question sparks more conversations, or more funny looks like "What's wrong with HIM?"

Corey

Kalispell, MT(Zone 4b)

Yes and Mr Blowhard has no capture in my interest. The world is full of different minds. Some of ours are VERY different. And yes the majority fervently watches sitcoms, and of course cop shows all similar filmed in different cities. Geeeeesh!

Thumbnail by Soferdig
Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

The guy on the doorstep is how I feel after just a few minutes of "reality TV" or shows "about" stupid lazy hoes. My brain glazes over and I collapse until I reboot.

At least we are back on-topic: brown stains of dubious ancestry and probable toxicity. Somehow 'acidity" has morphed into "assininty".

But I have learned not to take "American Idol" in vain. My DSO (whom I respect greatly in every other way) likes "American Idol" .

Since it's entertainment, or intended to be entertainment, I can't knock it or dispute it, but neither do I understand it.

I found some of the A.I. screening process "interesting", for the total outer-space insanity of some of the contestants, and one lady who became interestingly abusive when someone pointed out her complete and total lack of talent.

The title "American Idol" could have been about something interesting: say a bronze statue of some founding father that was worshipped as an idol by some political/religious fundmentalist sect like the Illuminati. Perhaps "Diminati".

Or maybe an idol of Ronald Reagan, conferring super-powers upon worshippers like the ability to balance the budget by raising taxes, to have charisma, or to be popular even withOUT balancing the bduget.

(Back off topic: that didn't take long.)

Corey

Kalispell, MT(Zone 4b)

Let see Sulfur/ Or what is the soil. PH test water (distilled) 7. Then put the orange stuff in the water and let it sit for a while then PH test it again. Acidity = Sulfur, No change = Iron, Alkaline =some salt pooped by a grizzly bear.

Syracuse, NY(Zone 5a)

Lol this is the most fascinating discussion of the origin of a sediment, but is the creator still watching?

Kalispell, MT(Zone 4b)

Nope. I'm sure we have bored everyone with our chemo talk. Anyway I think we answered the question many times.

Glenwood Springs, CO(Zone 5b)

If you are going to use distilled water for testing, make sure it is 7.0 to start. Use a drop or two of neutral buffer to bring the distilled water back into line.

Pi, how passe! Tau is the new thing! 6.28 ;)

At your service,
Oberschiesmeister Sonny

San Jose, CA

I planted a Dara's Choice Sage in the hole and so far it looks like it's doing okay! Hasn't grown a lot but at least it's not dying on me!

Wake Forest, NC(Zone 7b)

OK Pewjumper,
what is Tau or what is 6.28?

Paul

Kalispell, MT(Zone 4b)

I understand that any distilled water has a PH of 7?!

Glenwood Springs, CO(Zone 5b)

Soferdig,

We had a great debate amongst several water treatment operators because some of our water quality tests were "off". We scoured the area for different brands of "distilled" water and came up with about six different brands of distilled water which ranged in pH from about 6.4-8.2. We used lab grade, neutral pH deionized water as our standard. Needless to say we came up with several new standard operating procedures.

Apparently all "distilled" water is not the same.

When you treat a million+ gallons of water a day and your are jar testing samples, a little mistake can cost a lot of money and lead to less than the best water.

Sonny

Glenwood Springs, CO(Zone 5b)

Pbyrley,

I read an article the other day that the young Turks in the math world are agitatng for the adoption of Tau or 6.28 to replace 2Pi in certain math formulas concerning circles.

I just had to shake my head in amazement and disbelief at the absurdity and triviality of the whole thing. What's the point? ;)

LOL

Sonny

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Distilled water not always pH 7.0

No buffer means no stability. Absorb a little CO2 -> H2CO3 -> H+ and HCO3- ... acidity.
Not sure what causes it to go basic. Algae?


What's a little factor of two Pi among friends?

Corey


Kalispell, MT(Zone 4b)

I have learned. Before distilled meant no metals, or h2 co3 etc. Now I know that America is failing because they can't even make a distilled product worth it's weight. (Budwiser). Thank God for Wild Turkey!

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

When we had to clean glassware clean enough for tissue culture, we had:
water
filtered water
de-ionized water
steam-distilled and
really distilled water, always in sealed glass.

Open the seal, and you had to demote it.
But if we cared about the pH, we could use any of them, because it had to be buffered with soemthing, and fresh ... and still sealed.

It's been a olong time since High School (or college), but isn't one molar acid or base pH 1 or 13? Or 0 or 14?

Anyway, aren't pH 6 & 8 something like 10^-7 molar? 0.0000001 molar?

So 1/10th of a micro-mole of CO2 would blow your pH out of the water (so to speak)? I know that 10^20 molecules per liter SOUND like a lot, but not really!

I might be off by a factor of 100 or 1,000, but if I'm right, the consumer HAS to take responsibilty for the last log or so of pH. "Pure" anything is unlikely to exist for long in the real world.

And even when you have it, what is it good for, other than rinsing tissue culture dishes? If you wnat controlled pH (or controlled anything) you have to control it yorself right when you use it.

Funny how this is the polar opposite of our "soil" thread. There, a mellow "some of everything" is ideal, and here 99.9999% pure is ugly and gross and crude and barely usable.

Corey

Wake Forest, NC(Zone 7b)

Pewjumper - I guess these young Turks want lumpy tires on their cars.

Glenwood Springs, CO(Zone 5b)

Lumpy Tires? LOL :)

It is truly a testament to God how adaptable his plant creations are considering the mind boggeling complexity of the chemical interactions that happen in a simple garden. That said, I don't think I will ever stop finding new things to consider concerning soil ecology in my lifetime. Yet, an approach using a little of this & some of that seems to work quite well.

Sonny

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

When we were taught how photosynthesis worked, down to the chemical level, my jaw dropped and I had trouble believing it could ever have evolved that way without divine intervention ... from a divinity with a LOT of biochmical savvy!

Then I walked outside and saw sun shining through the leaves on a tree, and knew that those leaves, without a single brain cell, were doing all that complexity and more, without even referring back to their class notes ... WOW.

Like Nike ads: "Just do it."

Corey



Kalispell, MT(Zone 4b)

This is my photosynthesis equation: Buy Plant + dig hole in mixture of a lot of work with manure, soil, and clean up + Exhale a lot while working on my garden + exhale a lot at work to pay for the equiptment, soil ammendments, plants, water, well, property, taxes,.... = Oxygen.

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