My blueberry bush triage

ilovecucumbersJuly 5, 2014

To continue the tale of my new highbush BB bushes (see my previous post in this forum)...

Planted mid-April. I removed old & dying rhodies & azaleas. The farmer who helps me (because my husband refuses) planted 2 arneson gem azalea, 2 bluejay BB, 1 PA native BB, blue prince and princess holly, and 1 Chinese lacebark pine. The BB bushes are in front.

Once all was planted, he added good-quality brown mulch.

It's rained a lot, and the blueberries look a bit peaked--not many leaves, part of one died, and weird-looking bark. (I also forgot I wasn't supposed to let them fruit.)

I asked for advice here, and got it: fertilize. This morning I removed the mulch to do that, and winced.

The soil around the BB bushes was completely covered by weed fabric. I understand that water goes through it, but it seemed that it would be difficult for the soil to dry--and it was indeed very wet.

So--I hope this wasn't wrong--I removed the fabric all around the bushes. Careful not to disturb the roots, I gently worked a mix of peat moss and compost into the wet soil. Then I sprinkled 10-10-10 and soil acidifier onto the much-drier soil and gently worked that in as well. (I didn't use much of either--too scared, as these are new bushes).

Now the bushes are minus the weed fabric and mulch, so the soil can dry a bit. Is it OK to put back the brown mulch, or should I use pine-bark nuggets around the BB bushes?

Sorry for the length. I hope I didn't screw them up. It just seemed like the soil would never dry with that fabric there, and I don't mind weeding around the bushes.

Did I do right, or wrong? If the latter, any suggestions as to how to rectify?

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ericwi

I grow blueberries, with some success, in Madison, Wisconsin. I don't call myself an expert, but I have been doing this since around 1994, so I have had time to make many mistakes. I have no experience with "weed fabric," so I would not use it. Our shrubs are mulched with about 5 inches of shredded bark, or shredded tree leaves. I weed as necessary. Newly planted blueberry shrubs are not given fertilizer during the first 90 days. However, they are planted in a 50/50 mix of our native clay soil, and peat moss. Also, there will be 3/4 cup of agricultural sulfur in the very bottom of the hole, and another 3/4 cup of agricultural sulfur spread in a ring, around the shrub, on top of the dirt, but under the mulch. Since I don't know the pH of your soil, and the pH of your irrigation water, I really can't say if these instructions are correct for your location.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 5:15PM
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ilovecucumbers

Thanks, ericwi.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 5:18PM
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jtburton

"Weed fabric" would only cause an issue if you had it too close to the blueberry plant where the plant could not send up new shoots. It is probably not a bad idea to put some additional weed fabric back in place to keep the weeds in check.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2014 at 11:27AM
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ilovecucumbers

Thanks for the reply! The fabric was all around the bushes--no room at all. It also meant I could not add fertilizer--it would have had to go on top of the weed fabric. I will watch and see how the bushes do. If more weeds are the only consequence, I'll consider myself fortunate.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2014 at 1:44PM
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