Blueberry question for Bamboo Rabbit

apapjimNovember 28, 2012

Finally found some local plants and getting ready to prepare my mix. I was going to use Al's 5-1-1, which I also use for my tomatoes, BUT I noticed his mix calls for the addition of garden lime. Am I correct in assuming that this would be a no-no for blueberries?

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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Apapjim,

You are correct the lime would be a bad idea. He uses the lime in his mix to counteract the acidity and you want the acid.

While als mix is great I don't think it is the best for the BB. I would use equal parts of well wetted peat and pine fines (purple bag at walmart). To that I would add coffee grounds if you have them. The coffee is not so much for acidity but to close up the pore space in the mix. Trust me.....that mixture works awesome. You should see Floral city Lous BB in that mix....some of his leaves are 4-5" long with this years new bull canes pushing nickle size. His plants leaves are bigger than my in ground blues lol. If you do not have coffee grounds a scoop of sand on top of the mix when done then watered in so the sand filters down will work almost as well.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 5:03PM
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m5allen

Wow Bamboo, that size leaves and canes is insane. Does he use the same ammonium sulfate fertilizer that you recommend?

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 5:41PM
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apapjim

I have been saving my coffee grounds since I printed off your blueberry thread last year but I didn't know they were a substitute for perlite(I actually use course agricultural vermiculite for my tomatoes). Wouldn't that take an awful lot of coffee? Got any idea on the ratio?

Papa Jim

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 7:51PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

I don't know what Lou is doing to those plants....he may sing to them. Lou uses the dry fertilizer I get for him from Helena chemical, their blueberry special 12-4-8 all from acid sources and with all the micros.

I'm sure Lou uses azomite on them (he loves that stuff) in addition to the fertilizer but mostly I think the PH is just perfect in those half barrels and the plants are very happy. Because he is up on a pretty high hill perhaps his well water does not have a high level of bicarbonates in it like most of us have to deal with.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 7:54PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Jim,

I'm not talking about equal parts grounds. Just a few cups of grounds mixed in if you are using say a half barrel as a pot maybe a 1 gallon pot or two. I recommended the mix to Lou but never said how much coffee to use, maybe he will chime in on how much he puts in. Like I said I grow all 138 of mine in the ground so I just dump the grounds on top when I accumulate enough.

Because BB tend to grow in wet ground they are much better at dealing with low oxygen levels in the soil. In any case the pine fines are coarse enough to allow enough space and to prevent unhealthy compaction.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 8:04PM
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loufloralcityz9

bamboo-rabbit asked me to divulge my secret in growing blueberries. First my potting mix;
I use a ratio of 3 parts pine fines using a kitty pooper scooper (purple bag from Walmart)
one part of whetted ground peat moss (from Lowe's)
one heaping scoop of coffee grounds (using a normal size garden trowel) I mix this together thoroughly in a pail and then dump it in my plastic blue barrels I cut in half (with 4 two inch drainage holes drilled into the barrel half bottom with my Forsner bit) I repeat this mixing until the barrel is filled to within two inches from the barrel brim. To this I sprinkle 3 heaping tablespoons of powdered Azomite over the top of the mix (to give the mix all the trace minerals as the watering brings it down through the mix during the year)
I then plant the blueberry bush and cover the remaining two inches with pine straw that I gather from under my pine trees (removing all the odd leaves from the pine straw)
With my irrigation I use fogging nozzles on riser pipes 4 inches above the top lip of the barrels. One riser nozzle in the center of four barrels clumped touching together. The timer runs for a half hour every evening at 6:30 PM during summer and then set to every other evening during the fall/winter. I fertilize sprinkling 2 heaping tablespoons with the 12-4-8 fertilizer bamboo-rabbit gets for me at Helena Chemical approximately once per week or as needed when I look at the leaves.(some barrels need more, some less) I stop fertilizing around September/October (depending on the weather) I also put my citrus scraps from the house just under the pine straw all throughout the year.
Mid winter (January) I repeat the Azomite application and early spring I add more fresh pine straw. The pine straw helps keep the roots cooler by tempering the suns heat on the potting mix.

I think that covers it,
Lou

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 9:38AM
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apapjim

This is what I love about the forum. Members are so willing to share their hard earned methods with those of us just starting out. One day I hope to meet you at one of Silvia's parties.

By the way Lou, are you a woodworker? Not many gardners would own a 2" Forsner bit!

Papa Jim

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 11:17AM
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whgille(FL 9b)

Papa Jim, I agree with you about Bamboo and Lou being nice enough to share all that info with us.

And you have to be the tallest person in the forum, I remember looking up and up at you, lol.

Of course Lou has all the toys in the book, when I am ready for a tool, I will ask his advice.:)

Silvia

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 12:19PM
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loufloralcityz9

Papa Jim,

Yeah, I've been known to make piles of sawdust in my barn. I have many interests and working with wood is one of them.
I recommended the Forsner bit over the paddle bit for better control when drilling out the drain holes in the thick plastic barrel. You need the large holes for drainage as little drill holes will become plugged up over time and your roots will rot if the water accumulates in the barrel.

Lou

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 12:20PM
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L_in_FL(8B/9A Border, NW FL)

Bamboo and Lou (and any other experts):

I'd like to get 3 or so blueberry bushes but I am trying to figure out where to put them. Most of the spots with all-day sun year-round are already taken or are in places I have to leave clear for utilities access. I have a few options:

1. All-day sun in the summer, all-day shade in winter. This area is just north of a 6' privacy fence...I can't move them out from the fence because I have fruit trees there.

2. Morning shade and afternoon sun year-round. I used to have blackberries there years ago, but they didn't produce very much. I don't know if that was due to having only half-sun or some other failure on my part.

3. Shade for a few weeks before and after the summer solstice, but all-day sun the rest of the year.

Some of my options are pretty close to the foundation of the house. Even if I dig out the dirt and replace it with pine bark fines and peat, would the concete leaching eventually raise the pH? (These spots would be visible from the street, so I can't just stick them in blue half-barrels...it's one of the downsides to subdivision life.)

If none of these are going to allow the bushes to fruit well, I'll have to keep brainstorming. There IS a nice open sunny area in the "fall zone" near the kids' play set, but I gotta wait 'til the kids grow out of swings and slides before I can claim it for gardening. :-D

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 1:25PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

L,

The blues want as much sun as you can give them but winter shade would be ok. You kind of want sun on the leaves through Christmas but it all works. The more shade you get the more it will reduce yield.

If you are feeling energetic there is nothing wrong with burying the blue barrels next to the foundation perhaps with the rim an inch above soil level and just mulch over the top of them. You won't even be able to tell a barrel is there.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 2:08PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

L,

The blues want as much sun as you can give them but winter shade would be ok. You kind of want sun on the leaves through Christmas but it all works. The more shade you get the more it will reduce yield.

If you are feeling energetic there is nothing wrong with burying the blue barrels next to the foundation perhaps with the rim an inch above soil level and just mulch over the top of them. You won't even be able to tell a barrel is there.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 2:14PM
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L_in_FL(8B/9A Border, NW FL)

Thanks for the reply!

The spot with winter shade is probably in shade too much of the year, then. It's been in shade for some time already.

Burying the barrels is a great idea. I'll look over the afternoon sun spots again, and see which ones offer the most sun without stressing over proximity to the foundation, then.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 2:41PM
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tommyplyer

you can always beautify those blue barrels by painting them I like to be able to move them around

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 10:00PM
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shuffles_gw

tommyplyer:

"you can always beautify those blue barrels by painting them I like to be able to move them around"

What kind of paint do you use? Preparation? How long will it last?

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 8:34AM
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