Opium Poppy Soil Preparation And pH

When growing opium poppies, the pH should be somewhere in the neutral range (about 7). You can use a soil pH meter to check. They range in price from about $20-$40 US, and can be used for years (thousands of times) before they break or have to be replaced because of a malfunction.

A good way to stabilize soil is to use dolomite lime (calcium-magnesium carbonate). Dolomitic lime acts slowly and continuously, so soil will remain pH stable for up to a year. It is a good way to stabilize soil that is somewhere near 7.0 or lower.

Using fine size dolomite lime is important, coarser grades can take a year or longer to work. You can find fine size dolomite lime at any well stocked garden supply center.

Dolomite lime has been used by gardeners as a pH stabilizer for many years. It has a pH that is neutral (7.0). When added to soil in the correct proportions, it will stabilize soil at a pH near 7.0.

Follow the manufacturers instructions when adding fine dolomite lime to your soil. After the application, wait for a day or two (minimum) before checking the pH.

To lower soil pH: If the pH is higher than 7.0, small amounts of composted leaves, cottonseed meal, or peat moss will lower the pH of soil.

To raise soil pH: If the pH is lower than 7.0, small amounts of hardwood ashes or crushed oyster/egg shells will help to raise the soil pH.

Hydrated lime can also be used, in small quantities (per manufacturers instructions), to raise the soil pH. If in doubt, use less rather than more.

Wait for at least a day or two before checking the pH level of soil after attempting to raise, lower or stabilize it. If adjustments still have to be made, use small amounts of whatever material you are using.

If you can, try to prepare the soil a few months in advance of planting. Growers who plan to start their plants in spring could prepare the soil in the fall prior to planting. Growers who plan to start their plants in fall could prepare the soil in the spring/summer prior to planting.

Then before planting, check the pH and make any necessary minor adjustments. Things like decaying vegetation (leaves, etc) will change the pH of soil.

If you have to plant right away and don't have time to prepare the soil, don't worry, plant the seeds and see what happens. Chances are, the opium poppies will grow very well in soil that has previously been used to grow other types of plants successfully.

The requirements of the opium poppy are similar to many types of garden plants. In most cases only minor adjustments are needed in good gardening soil. When you get the opportunity, check the soil pH and see if it will need any adjusting for the following growing season.

Related Books

Hydroponic Heroin: Grow Opium Poppies Without Soil
Out of print but worth getting if you can find it for a good price. Shows how to grow opium poppies with a hydroponic set up. From how to sprout the seeds and care for the plants to harvesting.

A short history of opium is presented with the risks of addiction, pain of quitting, obtaining materials, laws, dosages, overdose antidotes, more. Includes harvesting raw opium from poppies, and how to convert the opium to morphine or heroin.
Hydroponic Heroin

Opium Culture
The title makes it sound strictly like a history book, in addition this is a very good introduction to smoking opium that anyone who has access to opium, but isn't sure how to smoke it, should read.

Thorough instructions on how to prepare the opium for use and how to use an opium pipe for the purpose. Includes addiction, withdrawal and medical issues as well as cultural insights and a social history of opium.
Opium Culture

Opium For The Masses
This is the updated 2009 version of this book. A fairly comprehensive introduction to opium, it takes you through the history, chemistry, use, cultivation, harvesting, storage, and other aspects of opium.

There is enough information about how to grow and harvest opium poppies for this to be used as a grow guide. For someone not interested in growing poppies, the book has good info on how to extract opioids from legally obtainable sources.
Opium For The Masses

Opium Poppy
A comprehensive resource that explores the opium poppy's origin, cultivation, distribution, chemistry, uses and abuses, from ancient civilizations through the present.

It covers plant and seed production, crop improvement, explores the chemical and pharmaceutical by-products of Papaver somniferum.

For professionals and students of pharmacy, botany, chemistry, medicine, pharmacology, or those with a serious interest in the subject.
Opium Poppy

Opium Poppy Garden
A good small book (less than 100 pages). Part one is a novel about the life of an opium grower. The second part of the book shows, using black and white photos and illustrations, how to cultivate and harvest the opium poppy outdoors with traditional tools that are easy to make and use.

Although less than 20 pages are about growing opium, it contains enough info to be used as a single introductory opium grow guide. If you grow poppies this book might be worth the price just for the page about how to harvest the opium capsule so it provides a maximum yield.
Opium Poppy Garden

For those with practical chemistry experience only. Sections include: thebaine extraction and purification, thebaine from dried seed capsules, oxycodone from thebaine, purifying oripavines, morphine extraction from opium.

Alkaloids from poppy straw and/or capsules, morphine from codeine, relatives of the opium poppy, opium products that occur in other plants, cultivation methods, opium harvesting, converting morphine to heroin, more.

Includes references, photos, graphs, charts; extraction, chemistry. By Otto Snow, 246 pages, 6 x 9 inches, illustrated in black and white, published september 2001, out of print.

The Power Of The Poppy
Parts 1-3 of the book include: Part 1 - the history of opium, Part 2 - morphine, codeine, heroin, oxycodone, methadone, fentanyl, Part 3 - famous opium users.

Part 4 includes information about cultivation, poppy tea, pills, smoking, injection, addiction, getting clean. 320 pages, 6 x 9 inches, published in 2011.
The Power of the Poppy