Making acid soil for blueberries

TheTick(z5 Iowa)January 15, 2006

How can I make soil acidic for 3-4 blueberry bushes?

This 8 x 4 foot area has a neutral pH and is covered with turfgrass. It is in zone 5 - Iowa.

The only idea I can come up with is to collect and compost massive amounts of pine needles on the area. Does anyone know what kind of "mass" I am looking at here and how long it will take to break down and acidify the area? (For sustainability reasons I don't want to use peat moss.)

Do any herbaceous plants naturally acidify soil?

Another thing rattling around in my head is whether or not I should even do this. If the area is not acidic to begin with, it seems as if I should find an alternative berry bush that will thrive on the site as it is; i.e. "use onsite resources" and "make the least change for greatest effect".

Thanks!

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joel_bc(z6 BC)

Well, in my case, starting with soil testing in the range of 7.0 - 7.2, here's what I did. I dug out a fair-size hole for each plant. I took this soil and mixed it in awheelbarrow in the following mixture: 25% (in relation to the soil volume of the hole) of original soil, with 50% sphagnum peat moss, and 25% finished compost. Into this mixture, I added and stirred in a small amount of sulfur powder (flowers of sulfur) and finely ground phosphate rock and fine greensand. When I planted the blueberry plants into the holes, with this mixture, I topped it off with a sawdust mulch.

Keep your plants' soil damp (and hopefully your undersoil is well drained).

I use a pH meter, and I find the original mix (which was made 10 years ago now), plus the yearly addition of sawdust mulch breaking down, tends to keep the pH on the acid side. But if the pH rises to around 6.0, I apply a light layer of sulfur powder. Then I re-test the soil in that spot after about 10 days, to make sure the pH is below 5.5.

Due to the constant breakdown process of the mulch, nitrogen tends to be bound up for a time - and you can have a nitrogen lag or deficit for your plants. So you may want to also annually add some nitrogenous material as a top dressing.

These days people are often more conscious of the "draw down" of peat bogs, as a semi-limited resource. I relied on sphagnum to drop the pH substantially. The use of pine needles as a soil mix ingredient might be a good option. Or maybe you could find enough natural acid soil somwhere, bring it home, and mix it in. Or you could try a more substantial addition of sulfur powder than I have used.

Good luck with the blues.

Joel

    Bookmark   January 15, 2006 at 11:48AM
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gardenlen(s/e qld aust)

g'day thetick,

heavy mulching with pine needles should go a long way to achieving this for you or even using shredded pine bark will do the same, so maybe lay a heavy layer of pine needles then cover with shredded pine bark. you could when you dig the hole add the needles in the bottom of the hole so dig deep enough to allow for you to cover that material, then plant you plants.

len

Here is a link that might be useful: lens garden page

    Bookmark   January 15, 2006 at 2:19PM
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led_zep_rules(5 WI)

I love blueberries, but when I lived in an area with alkaline soil I tried (fruitlessly in more ways than one) to grow blueberries. The plants didn't all die, but they didn't really grow, either. Never got any blueberries. The moral of the story is, if you have to do a whole bunch on ongoing work to grow a particular fruit, grow some other kind of fruit that would be happier there and you don't have to mess about so much for it.

I love oranges, too, but I will content myself with picking them while in Florida and otherwise being happy with pears, apples, peaches, etc. Some things aren't meant to grow in certain places.

Marcia, lazy gardener

    Bookmark   January 19, 2006 at 10:57PM
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joel_bc(z6 BC)

I partially agree, but partially disagree, with Marcia. Marcia wrote: "The moral of the story is, if you have to do a whole bunch on ongoing work to grow a particular fruit, grow some other kind of fruit that would be happier there and you don't have to mess about so much for it.... Some things aren't meant to grow in certain places."

For one thing, it is possible to effect the drop in pH (i.e., to acidify) a neutral soil to where blueberries will grow successfully, in very many cases. My experience proves that. Starting with a neutral soil (as I described), I got a very small crop of berries after one year, but it has pretty well doubled in volume each year thereafter. After planting, the amount of work I have put in has never been terribly much. I did have to replace a couple of weak plants in my first few years. I happen to love blueberries, so to me the berries are worth the "work."

If you can keep your berry patch damp, and if it has a soil (an undersoil) that is well drained, there doesn't seem to me to be a reason why blueberries would not work out.

Joel

    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 11:26AM
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idogcow(z8)

The common practice down here among growers is to mix in a good quantity of shredded or composted pine bark in the planting hole. You could continually mulch with this or with pine straw. Composted pine bark would break down the best. I used a middlebuster and filled the trench with pine bark and raked it all back, but I was doing an acre. Several bucketfuls mixed in and around the the planting hole should work good. You can get pine bark pretty easily from sawmills. At least here in the South, and it's more environmentally-consious than peat.

James

    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 7:15PM
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jennifer21

I just grow them in pots here in England on chalk and when in Central Texas, also chalk (caliche).

    Bookmark   February 16, 2006 at 11:15AM
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Eric_in_Japan(z7 Japan)

I planted a few rabbit-eye blueberries and a highbush in my garden. While I live in the middle of a bamboo forest, we have LOTS of cedar trees nearby, and access to lots of cedar bark from a local sawmill.

Everyone mentioned pine needles and pine bark as helping to make a soil acidic for blueberries, what about cedar? Are there any drawbacks to using it that I should know about?

Eric in Japan

    Bookmark   February 18, 2006 at 10:17AM
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ericwi

From a decade of experience growing blueberries, here in Madison, Wisconsin, I can say that it is possible to get the soil right, and still run into problems, if it becomes necessary to water the shrubs with tap water that contains dissolved lime. I have had success with adding vinegar to our tap water when I find it necessary to water the blueberry shrubs. I suspect that catching and storing rainwater would be a better solution to this problem.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2006 at 8:21PM
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woodschmoe

Depending on the scale of your planting, I have found coffee grounds and spent tea leaves work well under blueberries, forming an acidic mulch; for greater amounts, if one is within reasonable distance of a coffee shop, ask if you can leave a bucket for spent organic grounds. Good siting helps too: edges of anaerobic pockets (wet spots) tend to be acidic, and edges around conifer stands: here in the NW, I have had success planting blueberries at the base edge of rotting stumps.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2006 at 1:29AM
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homegrownincorny

Woodschmoe, I am interested in planting blueberries. I live on a lake with white pines at the water's edge. Would this be a good place to try to grow blueberries? Tell me more about your success with this. Also, tree stumps. I thought they had to be removed. Would love to plant around them without worrying about diseases and carpenter ants...

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 1:40AM
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tnat

Hi there. I currently reside in Kenya and I have taken up the challenge of growing blueberries here my home garden. I ordered two varieties Sunshine blue and Misty.
The first week I planted the plants in a potting mix, added some coco-peat and some mulch. My plants didn't seem to be doing too well.

I have now re-potted the plants in an rich organic acid-loving potting mix with some coco-peat. The PH of the soil ranges between 4.5 to 4.8.

One plant (sunshine blue) has nice dark green leaves with some. The other plant (also sunshine blue) seems to have some burnt bud tips but I think this had to do with the earlier potting soil.

I have 4 other plants (2 sunshine blue and 2 misty), They are producing a lot of leaves and the new leaves are now a darker green as opposed to the lighter green older leaves. So my guess is the plants are liking the potting soil. The problem is that I see no flower buds on these plants. I don't know what the problem could be? I have looked for diseases but nothing. Last week the leaves were curling up but after transplanting the leaves are looking healthier. However the leaf texture is different from the other 2 sunshine blue plants I received. The leaves are not a deep dark green and they aren't as sturdy as the other plants.

Any help or suggestions would really be appreciated.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 5:50AM
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soniaj1(z5 NV)

Try serviceberries, Amelanchier ainifolia. They tolerate a much wider soil range and supposedly taste similar to blueberries. I've just ordered 15 from Burnt Ridge to plant as a hedge.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2009 at 5:35PM
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Belgianpup(Wa/Zone 7b)

tnat, that rich potting soil may be the problem if it's too rich, producing many dark green leaves but no flowers or fruit. Too much nitrogen can produce lush but weak growth.

Also, it has to be the right time of year for flowering.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 8:16PM
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tnat

Hi thanks for the suggestions.

I have noticed that some of the blueberry plants have stems with a fuzzy texture to it? I am not sure if they are supposed to be like that. I have two other plants of the same variety which don't have similar stems.

Also because of the PH of the water the PH of the soil is above 5.0. How do I keep the PH below 5.0 without overfertilizing. I can't seem to get elemental sulphur or peat moss anywhere in my area. I have ordered elemental sulphur which should be here in about 4 weeks.

I have access to ammonium sulphate as well as cottonseed meal. But again I don't want to overfertilize. Any suggestions?

Thanks

    Bookmark   March 30, 2009 at 8:34AM
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tnat

Hi again.

I just bought some sulphur powder from an industrial chemical factory. I was wondering how much would I add to my plants and do I sprinkle it on the top or do I burry it deep in the pot. Thanks

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 9:31AM
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petef

Why not pee on the soil round your bush, yes  as I wrote that it sounds discussing or even rude. But pee contains acid plus itÂs a fertiliser and if youÂre a man its easy to do, the only draw back could be the salt contents in the pee, IÂm not sure if its bad for the soil? does anyone know if it is?

    Bookmark   April 26, 2009 at 6:39PM
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marc5(6aOH)

Pete,
A casual search for the ph of pee shows it to be neutral. So, I wouldn't risk a ticket for public indecency. Plus, I have an electric deer fence around my bushes. You wouldn't want to contact those wires.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 11:13PM
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blueberrier1

thetick, according to a MI blueberry nurseryman, the best thing to do for your blueberries in the midwest is to plant them high. He told me that when they consolidate test field varieties (moving plants with a Bobcat bucket!), they make sure that plants set on a ridge.

My patch of 40 bushes has pH ranging from 4.5-6.5 and all bushes are doing well and are full of berries at this time. I spread about a handful of agricultural sulfur around each plant every three years. Am now searching for large wood chip chunks (not shredded) to add to the sawdust mulch. I try to spray the plants with Calcium 26 every few weeks, after the berries form and before they ripen.

One NAFEX fellow in CO raises his blueberries in a giant bag of peat. Pic may still be on the web.

With a 4x8 plot, you could easily make a raised bed and have delicious berries by 2010 if you plant now.

Welcome to the blue addiction!

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 9:32PM
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tasymo

I've got two blueberry bushes in a raised bed (2' by 4", 2' deep) I filled the bed with a mix of sand, peat moss, and bagged compost, and mulched the top with coco hulls. My bushes made it through their first Michigan Winter with the loss of only one small branch. They appear nice and healthy, with glossy, fresh green foliage and are bearing a small amount of fruit. The bushes were in one gallon pots and about 1 1/2' tall when I got them. I would say they have grown about 6" more since last Summer. I also put some strawberry plants in the same bed and they are producing like crazy this Spring.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 3:15PM
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rlargaespada(5)

RE: Making acid soil for blueberries

clip this post email this post what is this?
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" * Posted by blueberrier1 6 (My Page) on
Tue, Jun 9, 09 at 21:32

thetick, according to a MI blueberry nurseryman, the best thing to do for your blueberries in the midwest is to plant them high. He told me that when they consolidate test field varieties (moving plants with a Bobcat bucket!), they make sure that plants set on a ridge. "

When you say "ridge" do you mean a manually (like hilling up a row) raised row or a naturally occurring high part of the land?? I also live in Michigan also and it is pretty flat all around.
I am also going to plant a few blueberry bushes in a couple weeks and need to add to the soil to acidify it.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 7:20AM
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yukkuri_kame(Sunset 19 / USDA 9)

coffee grounds from coffee shop and urine should both work. If you aren't comfortable peeing in public or near an electric fence, put your compost pile in a discreet place and pee on the pile then wheelbarrow it around to your plants at a later time. Sawdust & urine make great compost.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 5:32PM
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blueberrier1

rlargaespada, the ridge is a slight mound/raised bed 6-8" above rest of adjacent soil. I make it about 15" across for new 2 year old one gallon sized plants. I make my ridge continuous from one end of a row to the other. My large patch has a slight southern slope, even so, after 6" of rain yesterday, the blues are sitting pretty.

I manually constructed the ridges a few years ago. I have a garage sale concrete spreader (imagine a regular rake with a long blade where the teeth are) that made the job more efficient than a std hoe. I also use this tool to make the 12" tall soil mounds for great sweet potato crops in a 6' wide raised bed.

My blues are now overloaded with berries, and as soon as the soil dries a bit, I will walk thru the patch every few days and thin the berries by rolling them off between my fingers. A horticulturist friend who worked with NJ folks hybridizing blues said that it was commonly done by them. Any thin and new branch was stripped completely of berries, but left for the leaves to provided nutrients. Large clusters were especially tip thinned. Scarry as it sounds, thinning results in fewer, but much larger berries. The first time this friend visited my patch in MD, he automatically reached out and began thinning. My heart pounded until he explained himself! I especially thin my favorite pollinator and BB muffin berry, Friendship. This is a very productive wild berry, native to WI, that does not require much stooping to harvest. It has always grown four to five feet tall for me. Good luck in this berry delicious addiction!

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 3:03PM
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rlargaespada(5)

Thank you "blueberrier"! I hope I can ask some more questions later. Are you in Mi. or Md.???

    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 12:24AM
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mrnglry

Remember that blueberries rely on mychrozoae on their roots to absorb nutrients, let the soil dry out and the mychrozoae will die. But don't keep them soggy either. Perfect drainage is key. Blues were originaly a bog plant, but not one that grew in the water, rather above it with soil that was constantly wicking water up and therefore always damp but never soggy.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 5:25PM
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colluvial(5a)

I think mrnglry has got it exactly right. I know of several stands of native highbush blueberries near where I live in Vermont. All of them are on sandy soils in near-wetland conditions. By near-wetland I mean growing on hummocks that are 6" to 12" above the surrounding forested swamp.

I've grown highbush blueberries in acid, sandy, but dry soils and, although I had blueberries every year, I wouldn't say they were thriving. It may have had something to do with our neutral pH tap water.

To maximize your chance of success and minimize the amount of work you'll have to put in, it would be a good idea to assess your soil and water conditions before committing yourself.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2010 at 1:00PM
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flowerpatch

I planted two blueberry plants in June and happily they have not died, but they have not grown either. I tried the coffee ground thing without any change. My soil is very black and extremely sandy as I live across the street from Lake Michigan in southeastern WI. I'm thinking I don't need to raise the plants up as the drainage is very good. I water often because of that. What should I try next? Thanks.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 2:33PM
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cookingofjoy

Thanks for the recommendation for the Friendship berry. I found them offered at backyardberrydotcom. Has anyone used this nursery - or recommend another?

    Bookmark   December 2, 2010 at 4:49PM
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blueberrier1

cookingofjoy, have not heard of backyardberry source. I bought my Friendships BBs (only 2) over 20+ years ago from Jung-a WI mail order co. I have 'subdivided' these two bushes often for my patch and for other 'addicts.' It seems that all my other blues have increased production when a friendship is no more than three plants away. When I lived in MD, I placed one between two Elliotts and was truly astonished at the heavy huge production. The 10 year old patch of 35 blues had over 350# of fruit. At that time I had 5 or 6 of the Friendship. With their small berries, those Frienship had 4-5# per bush.

Here in KY, the mason and bumblebees are thrilled with all the blues. This spring I noted a few honey bees and even saw a few the first of Nov on some perennial daisies. No one within two miles of this site has hives...but there may be a honey-house in some hollowed tree in the woods. I have used a few drops of roundup on the poisonivy in a fencerow, but otherwise maintain an organic approach.

good luck!

    Bookmark   December 3, 2010 at 8:45PM
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wanttheblues

blueberrier1, just found this website, and I think we are near each other on this wonderful planet. I live in no ky and am looking to plant some blueberry plants next spring. I just sprinkled some sulfer where I plan to plant them, and I was also looking to get some pine needles spread out on that area. It sounds like you use raised beds for yours~~mine will be in a well drained area, but I am concerned that they may not get enough water naturally, so I am going to have to water, but from reading the previous posts, it seems that perhaps the tap water in this area is probably not the best, so I will try to also capture the rainwater for using for this purpose. I notice you recommend an Elliot variety. Where do you purchase yours from? How close are you to No Ky? Could I perhaps get some from you in the spring? Let me know. Thanks!

    Bookmark   December 3, 2010 at 11:06PM
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somcprt697_yahoo_com

I wouldnt imagine that coffee grounds would dramatically change the pH of your soil. Typically all the acid goes into your cup, and the coffee grounds are pretty neutral.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2010 at 4:24PM
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jolj(7b/8a)

eric in japan, YES! The cedar is a CONIFER, family of softwood,cone bearing, evergreen trees, including pine,spruce,fir,juniper,hemlock.cypress,REDwood,& cedar.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2011 at 12:14PM
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s_f_walton_ntlworld_com

I planted 3 blueberry bushes 4 years ago in an alkaline area, so incorporated lots of ericaceous (acidic) compost when planting. I regularloy add coffee grounds and tea leaves.

Year 1 - a few berries (only to be expected)
Year 2 - A goodish crop for the first real year
Year 3 - Lots of berries but all very small

This year is the decider - small berries again and I change the crop to an apple tree - be warned bluebery bushes!!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 11:21AM
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atresidder06_wou_edu

I have always put my used coffee grounds under my blueberries and they produce very well. The first bush was planted in red clay soil (I never checked the ph) and the second batch in rich black farm soil but under a sequoia tree. Both plants have done very well and I attribute it to the coffee grounds... Any one have a similar tale?

    Bookmark   March 18, 2011 at 6:53PM
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arugula(4/5 Wisconsin)

joelj- Can you say more about cedar? Is the acidity level identical to pine, or if not, how do they differ?

I'll be trying blueberries this spring, and I'm curious why so many here seem to avoid using sulphur. Is it expensive or problematic for organic gardeners?

I don't drink coffee, but if it's cheaper to use the grounds, I'll just buy them or beans and throw them in the planting hole/soil unused, then use them to dress the plant areas. I imagine they'd be more acidic usused too, yes? S

Here is a link that might be useful: Hardy Eco Garden

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 6:58PM
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dennyzeske_charter_net

I am for the first time planting blueberries this Spring as soon as the frost leaves the ground. I live in an area where wild blueberries are found around wet marshes and near different varities of evergreens. I am going to dig out some of the soil where these berries thrive and mix it with my existing garden soil. Don't know if this will work but it's worth the try.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2011 at 10:12PM
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blueberryhillsfarm

Arugula, sulphur isn't expensive and there are sulphurs that are approved for organic production. The problem with sulphur is that it changes the soil ph not through a chemical reaction but a biological one, as such it is quite slow. It takes 6 months to a year to get the effect and doesn't do anything in cold, frozen soil. So, you either have to prep the soil much earlier or do something else. Adding peat will provide a suitable pH now and sulphur can be used to maintain that pH, as will pine needles or pine bark or oak leave to mention a few alternatuves.

Using a low pH soil from another site will also work. But pH maintainance will also be required. As another writer noted, well water is naturally higher in pH and will tend to raise your pH over time. The surrounding soil will raise the pH. City water is especially high pH. They typically raise the pH to 8.5 or higher so the water won't dissolve metals in the pipes.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 9:00AM
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iamthefeenix_yahoo_com

I'm scared to plant my pink blueberries, from reading all of the posts it seems tricky, time consuming and potentially stressfull... I just love, love, love blueberries and pink is one of my favorite colors! Any first-time, simple planting suggestions?

    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 12:28PM
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afmoore40_msn_com

put a continer under your drain pipe that goes to your roof and catch water that way.Works for me try it you'll like it as you will save on water bill. this is my first year growing blueberries put compost in hole first before planting which contained eggs shells coffee grimds and banana skins will let you know how I make out only one problem this is a mid season varity and don't know if i'll see anything till next year asi don't know age of plant.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 12:56PM
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blueberryhillsfarm

Stephanie, I think the method used by joel_bc (Sun, Jan 15, 06) is pretty good. The addition of the 50% peat pretty much guarantees that your starting pH will be good. If your soil is already sandy, you can omit the sand, otherwise it helps loosen the soil which the blueberries like. The compost and peat add great organic matter. The hole should be at least 24 inches across, preferably 36", but doesn't have to be real deep, 12-16 inches is fine. They like full sun, and well drained but constantly moist soil.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 1:03PM
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zapadenko_yahoo_com

That a look at this video. It tells you what you need to do to grow blueberries!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sJSXT7fJaQ

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 10:31AM
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loraine_onemain_com

In response to Eric's question re: cedar bark & leaves vs. pine: It's my understanding that all conifers are not created equal. While they may impart acidity to soil, the tannins in cedars are similar to those in redwoods. They'll not readily break down, and can be quite toxic to some soil organisms (and humans).

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 10:55AM
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mvpbcs

I just joined so I can't remember which forum the subject came up on, but I want to comment on Service berries. I have some. They are thriving despite my outstanding failures on blueberries and my inattention to the service berries themselves. I now have volunteers which have spread out from the main bush and have beautiful healthy leaves. I live in an area with heavy clay soil and alkali soil and water. I've been reading all these posts regarding blueberries and can't say I'm feeling encouraged. But back to the topic of Service berries. They *look* like blueberries. They may be related. But to me, a lot of the similarity stops there. The flavor is not similar. I do not know whether the nutritional values are similar. I wish I did know. I paid an IMO horrific price for the intial bush at a local nursery but now, given the mortality of the blueberries I've tried, it may be turning out to be a bargain. I've been working on my garden soil and need to focus more on these very good, native berries, and capitalize on what can be expected to be very successful. The flavor is mild, not like blueberries. But as long as people aren't expecting blueberry flavor, that shouldn't be a problem.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2011 at 12:34PM
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zuni(5a)

Use of peat is not sustainable, and neither is any effort to change the pH of soil. If you MUST have blueberries, grow them in large pots which you can fill with a special soil mix.

On the subject of pee: this is a heavy dose of nitrogen, which typically creates lush foliage at the expense of fruiting.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2011 at 11:56PM
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einhverfr

Regarding pH of soil and blueberries, I have been considering growing them in my (alkaline) soil by simply placing them near a huge spruce tree which sheds large numbers of needles ever year. These needles make it difficult for more alkaline-loving plants to do well. Generally speaking the alkaline soil I have seen has tended to be poor in humus and rich in minerals, while acidic soil has tended to be more mature (for the most part--- not always).

I disagree with the poster who said that acidifying the soil is not sustainable. I think that in general the question is how you can harness biological systems to do the work for you.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 5:33PM
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Foodtomax(Mid North Coast NSW)

Hi everyone Thanks for your dialogue. You have taught me some good things. When I had my soil tested the PH was 4.3 but blueberries still didn't grow well until I realised the soil structure- clay- was wrong.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 11:30PM
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MensaBarbie

I live in Hollywood Hills. I planted three different varieties of blueberries, one of which was a Southmoon highbush. They did ok in my clay soil, putting out a few berries. I found this blog when I was trying to determine what they needed to be optimized. I pulled them out, mixed the clay with perlite and sphagnum moss and potted them. Two of the three plants are doing great, putting out new leaves like crazy. The third is putting out a few new leaves. I will pull it and reduce the amount of clay in the soil, adding sand and perlite for drainage and see how she does. thanks for all of the tips.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 2:43PM
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andy9999(6a)

Use ammonium sulfate as fertilizer-it will immediately lower pH ,use garden sulfur -it will take few months to lower Ph, than use pine bark

    Bookmark   November 26, 2011 at 11:18PM
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capoman(5a)

If you are concerned about using peat, composted pine bark and sawdust work well, especially in a raised bed. Pine bark drains very well and will last a long time. Pine bark doesn't retain water well, but the sawdust will help. A bit of compost mixed in doesn't hurt, but not too much as it will raise the pH. Blueberries don't need rich soil.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 11:36AM
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dexterdog

Hi Folks,
Perhaps some could learn from my mistakes? I dug 75% peat into a 4x8 raised bed last year and added litres and litres of coffee grounds from my local starbucks as often as I drove through (a lot, ahem :). This spring two are dead and the rest are sad looking. Totally puzzled, I bought a test kit and wouldn't you know it, the ph is over 7. I have no idea how that is even possible with all the peat (and yes, it's real bad-for-the-bogs-peat). Here I was, overconfident that I had put the right ingredients into the batter, so to speak. The moral of the story? a) PH test often, b) plan to amend frequently and c)IMHO, be open minded to the conventional fixes. Yes, you can try to keep it going a la mother nature, but after the $$$ I spent on plants and other, I'm sold on the $10 box of Al Sulphate/sulphur, as plan 'A' failed me. Seems like the pee/eggshells/peat/bark is more in the name of trying to do things 'organically', or 'naturally'...Me personally, I'd rather have berries. Good luck all :)

    Bookmark   May 27, 2012 at 11:49AM
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Ixchnel

What about adding ashes from a woodburner or a charcoal grill?

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 3:05AM
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dvmac

I love blueberries also and tried to plant two Sunshine a few years ago when they were less available on the promise that they did well in the heat and handled alk soils better. I put them in the ground, which is red sand a 1000 feet deep, and used 15 gallon black nursery containers which I buried at ground level and filled with peat. What I found is that you definately need to treat the water in these alk areas because even if you start with an acidifided soil, it will be alklinized via water. Mine did very poorly and I gave up however, what I decided from the experience is that if I were to try it again, I would probably use old half whiskey barrels to help maintain the acidity and definatly treat the water which I used on them.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2012 at 8:12PM
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irenka

instead of trying to grow blueberries, try honeyberries they
taste between blueberries and raspberries. they look like an elongated blueberry. they are extremely hardy (from Siberia) and they do not require acid soil.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 10:49PM
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