How know if soil is TOO acidic for blueberries?

armyofda12mnkeys(7a, Philly, PA)April 3, 2012

I planted some blueberries last year. I got alot of dead wood on them this year. I put them in a large % of peat moss to soil ratio... I was curious if there's a thing as too much peat moss for blueberries? They also have pine needles on top as mulch... They get a good amount of morning and decent amount of early afternoon sun.

I'll probably test out the soil soon but thought it was 4-4.5.... but curious, can blueberries do well in a very high peat-moss medium? For a 100% peat moss medium, would that even get to an acidity lower than 4?

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Peat moss isn't going to give you a pH below 4. And they will grow in 100% peat moss. I don't go that route in pots because peat can breakdown in a pot and suffocate the roots with too much water.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 7:48PM
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alan haigh

If peat is not well incorporated with the soil, which is very often the case when it isn't premoistened before incorporation, it tends to stay dry which can create problems for any plant but especially for feeble rooted blueberries. Just a hunch.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 8:35PM
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riverman1

Are the plants in pots or in the ground?

They will grow fine in 100% peat so that is probably not your problem. Here is one growing great in 100% peat.

http://images.search.yahoo.com/images/view;_ylt=A2KJkK2NoXtPgmcAXM6JzbkF;_ylu=X3oDMTBlMTQ4cGxyBHNlYwNzcgRzbGsDaW1n?back=http%3A%2F%2Fimages.search.yahoo.com%2Fsearch%2Fimages%3Fp%3Dblueberry%2Bpeat%2Bbale%26ei%3DUTF-8%26fr%3Dyfp-t-701%26tab%3Dorganic%26ri%3D2&w=268&h=356&imgurl=ptallman.home.comcast.net%2F%7Eptallman%2Findex_image799.jpg&rurl=http%3A%2F%2Fptallman.home.comcast.net%2F%7Eptallman%2Findex_blueberries.htm&size=21.5+KB&name=...+blueberry+bush+in+2003+that+had+been+planted+directly+in+a+peat+bale&p=blueberry+peat+bale&oid=be29671bcb4f82b18def2b036bded7d9&fr2=&fr=yfp-t-701&tt=...%2Bblueberry%2Bbush%2Bin%2B2003%2Bthat%2Bhad%2Bbeen%2Bplanted%2Bdirectly%2Bin%2Ba%2Bpeat%2Bbale&b=0amp;ni=240&no=2&tab=organic&ts=&sigr=120odjmm0&sigb=139ekt1ob&sigi=11muek99j&.crumb=LPqpziEYgPS

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 9:19PM
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armyofda12mnkeys(7a, Philly, PA)

Hey all,
they are in ground and were pretty nice 3-4ft high, .5inch caliper branches at the bottom.

I tried to wet the peat before/after putting the blueberries in last year... but I did notice it was hard to wet the whole pile of peat. (I'd dig 6 inches deep and see its all dry so i tried wetting it more). Then i mixed with soil that i dug out and wet it again after mixed (I'd say 50% heavy clay soil, 50 peat down 1foot deep. Probably much higher peat on top, I'd say 75% peat:soil).

PS, That's a cool way of growing a blueberry riverman1 :).

I'll try to water them better this year. I was very lacking in watering them last year.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 11:43PM
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alan haigh

They do need their water.

I get peat wet in a cement tray or wheel barrow before I put it into the soil- that way you don't have to mix the soil along with the peat. For the commercial trade Farfard makes a peat with a wetting agent.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 5:50AM
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Edymnion(7a)

Lol, sorry, this contributes nothing but I skimmed what harvestman said and at first I would have sworn he said "I get peat wet in a cemetery" instead of "cement tray".

Was like, dang, I thought I was weird! =P

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 9:38AM
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alan haigh

I get Pete wet in a cemetery when I piss on his grave.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 11:02AM
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armyofda12mnkeys(7a, Philly, PA)

lol harvestman :)

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 1:35PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

wet peat.. in the bag/bale .. a week or two ahead of the incorporation.. to insure using a properly wetted material ...

ken

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 8:46AM
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Edymnion(7a)

But yeah, how do you tell if the soil is too acidic for blueberries? Insert a metal pole into the soil. Come back the next day. Has the soil eaten through the metal pole completely? If not, then its not too acidic for blueberries.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 9:16AM
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alan haigh

Off the top of my head, a pH below 4 is not good for blueberries. pH tests can be done by most anyone- very easy. I use a Cornell kit that can be had for $15. Your cooperative extension will probably do a single test for 5.

Because I'm taking such tests all the time I've long since learned that blueberries can thrive in soils with a pH well over 6. I've seen this in soils annually mulched with sweet peet as well as wood chips. However, the literature will remain as it is as long as commercial growers don't use such mulch to manage their crops.

My theory (or hunch) is that the mulch releases acids that release iron as they break down serving the surface roots of the blues. Only a fraction of the soil profile need contain this iron for iron lovers to get what they need. That last sentence has been established by the research of Carl Whitcomb.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 12:51PM
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