Will Blueberries grow in sandy fill?

ScottCanadaDecember 2, 2013

My wife and I just bought a house (that is 20 years old) that was built on fill. Really sandy/rocky stuff, I have as much composted horse manure (3 years old) as I want, should I plant the bushes in raised beds with the manure or just stick them in the sand/rock fill and try to fertilize later?

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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

The biggest thing about blueberries is getting the PH right. Sand is fairly acidic or can be. Which is what blueberries need. Manure compost is fairly neutral, so not the best fertilizer for blueberries. An acidic fertilizer is best. The sand amended with peat moss and possibly pine bark fines would be an excellent medium.
The sand could contain lime or other minerals that make it basic. First off the PH of the sand needs to be known.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2013 at 10:23PM
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alan haigh

Composted manure can be part of the mix, but you need to know the pH of that as well as the soil. I agree with everything else Drew said and as long as you use 50% peat with sandy soil the manure probably isn't necessary- but blueberries do like a lot of organic matter in their soil and compost is more stable than peat moss which can break down in a hurry. The compost would also supply slowly released N. and other nutrients not concentrated in PM.

If an adjustment of pH must be made, be careful using sulfur that you get the right instructions for you soil or mix on how much to add. Doesn't take much to lower the pH of sandy soil.

I would submit a sample of the entire mix I plan to use for analysis and specific instructions on amendments needed.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2013 at 5:45AM
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Thanks for the response, if I wanted to use something other than peat moss (because of sustainability issues) what would that be? Also, I leave in Canada, not a lot of Pine around but a whole lot of spruce, would spruce bark due?

    Bookmark   December 3, 2013 at 8:13AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)


Like Drew said check the PH. I do disagree about sand being low in PH....sand, silica can't be diluted in water so would have no PH so would be neutral PH. Things in the sand mix could lower or raise the PH so without a test you would not know.

I think spruce bark would be fine to use but bear in mind what Drew said bark FINES. You need the right particle size. Big pine/spruce nuggets won't do it.

I live in Florida and the entire state is just one big sand bar. Grow almost 200 BB bushes and they like sand just fine as long as it has a lot of organic material mixed in to hold moisture around the roots.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2013 at 9:28AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Fir bark is also good. if you can find super fine bark, it is about the same as peat. But no doubt moss is the very best amendment for blueberries.

On the sand here in MI on the west side we grow the most Northern High Bush than any other state, and it is because the rain has made the sand acidic. What's great about sand is it is so easy to change the PH! Clay pretty much will always remain alkaline, why many don't even try to grow blueberries in it. That evidence is all over the net, and is why I said sand is usually acidic in nature.
But you could have building materials such as lime in your sand, you need a PH test.
Here's an article from Michigan State University that backs my claims. I will never state anything without some evidence. A great series of articles here on PH and organic matter too.

Here is a link that might be useful: Why MI sand has a low PH

This post was edited by Drew51 on Tue, Dec 3, 13 at 13:31

    Bookmark   December 3, 2013 at 1:03PM
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Sandy soils drain rapidly and blueberries can not dry out. I'd get all the organic matter possible incorporated for retention and keep them regularly irrigated for some time.
They have a fibrous mat of roots that spread mainly sideways and will struggle if forced to seek out groundwater.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2013 at 4:42PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)


He does not live in Michigan:)

Sands PH is neutral not acidic as you claimed....silica has no ability to raise or lower PH. If you had said Michigan sandy soils tend to be acidic you then would have been accurate. You think California's sandy soil is acidic? Not a chance. We are talking here to people all over the country and just because something holds true for your local area does not mean it is that way where they live.

If someone believed what you said that sand is acidic I could see them running out to their local Lowes to buy a bag of sand and pouring it around their BB bushes to lower the soil Ph because that guy on the internet said sand is acidic. Think I am wrong? My neighbor who is a very smart man a medical doctor by profession had asked me if he could put wood ashes from his fire pit around his citrus trees. I said sure and thought no more about it. A couple of weeks later I am at his house and what do I see? Around each tree a foot thick and 4 foot diameter are ashes...... Lesson is just because we may know what we are talking about does not mean the person on the receiving end does.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2013 at 8:18AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

"Think I am wrong?"

No you're right. I have to agree with you.
Yeah ashes are extremely basic, but I heard charcoal ashes are not, just wood ashes. I put wood ashes on moss in shady areas in my grass at my cottage.

The acidic Michigan sand is interesting. It's coral sand and when first exposed the calcium makes it basic, but after long term exposure to the elements, the PH goes down to 5.0. I guess it can easily be buffered? I'm not really sure why this happens?
I'm on the east side where our soils are alkaline clay. I use raised beds for blueberries. Last winter I went through the blueberry fields on the west side. Man that was cool, what beautiful orchards.

Your conclusion is "That all gardening is local" and yes it certainly is! My bad!
I just wanted to reference why i thought it could possibly be acidic. I still think it is probably on the acidic side. Notice my statement says "or could be". And yes sand can be acidic. So my statement is really not incorrect. Could be also relays the fact it could not be. I covered myself well! :)
I should have said though sandy soil, not just sand. I didn't think or forgot about how people here love to pick your statements apart. To clarify I did mean sandy soil, not sand itself. Pure sand is a rare thing in nature, I assumed we all knew that.

This post was edited by Drew51 on Wed, Dec 4, 13 at 9:24

    Bookmark   December 4, 2013 at 9:13AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)


I didn't mean to pick your statement apart......just to clarify. The more exact we can be the better off the people are that read what we have to say. In my first post I agreed with you on every point...except the sand.

The odd thing is even sand is so broad of a statement. The sand we have here is fine and white as snow, basically picture hourglass sand. I hesitate to call this sandy soil as it is in the natural state pretty much just sand. Have you ever looked at a soil map for your area? For mine it is amazing just how many soil types there are in one county or even in one neighborhood.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 7:49AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Hey no worries, I was unclear, and incorrect too.
Yes soil maps are the same here. Weather patterns are the same way. Rain amounts seem to vary by feet not miles, amazing! I was amazed how pure the sand was in Florida. Here it is yellow and has a lot of organic matter. Except maybe on the west side, the coast of Lake Michigan. Where the sand dunes are. It can be mistaken for ocean.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 1:15PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Duplicate post, weird, so here's another photo...
These huge deposits of sand were formed by the glaciers the last ice age. Curious as to what the next ice age will do? Hopefully I'll never find out :)

This post was edited by Drew51 on Fri, Dec 6, 13 at 14:24

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 1:17PM
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