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Blueberry Blog

Category: Blueberry blog | Posted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 2:40 pm

My "something new" for this year is blueberries.... so I'm going to keep track of the experiment.

For the past couple of weeks my focus has been on how to prep the soil so that my blues will have the ph of 4-5 that will make them the happiest. Sjoerd reco'd the Azalea/Rhodi soil mix and after calling and visiting some 6 large local nurseries and talking to nursery people at 2 garden shows, I have come to the conclusion that it's just not seen as necessary around here... Who knows why, but it is odd. But, regardless, because of that, I've learned about how to adjust the ph in other ways so I think in the long run, it will be just fine.

I also spent some time learning about the best plants for this area. The most consistent advice I got was to know where the plants were started (good advice for any plant purchase) and buy plants that will be hardy enough to withstand our winter. In other words, don't buy plants started in the South. Bunkie reco'd a farm in NJ called Dimeo Blueberry Farms and they look like a good operation so I ordered 5 plants from them. More about that when the plants arrive, which should be within a week or two.

But back to the soil.

Yesterday I took my new ph tester and became very familiar with the soil and amendments... very fascinating (the ph of dirt is fascinating? Really? I believe I may be getting nerdier and nerdier the older I get... and my friends and family would concur... my cousins looked at me with one eye closed when I told them about it last night. But I just KNOW my GS friends will get it!).

Generally speaking my soil is at ph 6, a tiny bit higher outside of the drip line of the pine tree. But peat and compost are lovely for ph, at 4-5 and 5 respectively. I learned that it's not so easy to change the ph of a large area. You have to add a lot of amendment. I added about 150 lbs of peat and about 4 cups of soil acidifier (sulfur). Still the overall ph didn't change much. But I think it will still be OK. When the plants arrive, I'll dig the holes deep and 2x as wide and fill the bottoms with peat/soil mix, then fill in with more peat/soil mix. I also have a very nice organic fertilizer for acid loving plants. I am still thinking about whether to add more soil acidifier as I read in one source not to add sulfur around the plants...

I expanded my space to accommodate all 5 plants that I ordered plus one more that I bought from a nursery around here. Here are the before and after... Doesn't look like much at this moment but I am imagining how it will look.

"Before" -- wow, what a mess. ( photo / image / picture from daisybeans's Garden )

Another before shot. ( photo / image / picture from daisybeans's Garden )

Looks a mess doesn't it???

150 lbs of peat ( photo / image / picture from daisybeans's Garden )

1 50 lb bag of peat here ( photo / image / picture from daisybeans's Garden )

Interestingly, adding this much peat (50 lbs) to this small area didn't change the ph of the area very much at all. That is how I know that really prepping the holes at planting will be very important for the blues. Also additional amendments each year...

two spots for blues ( photo / image / picture from daisybeans's Garden )

The "after" pic still doesn't look like much. My poor fence is really in bad shape. I am trying to decide what to replace it with -- I'd like something that provides privacy in some areas but increases air flow and sunlight in others... hmmm, I think I will post a forum topic and see what ideas the Garden Stewers have (now why didn't I think of that before???!!)

But it is a nice spot with nice sun from late a.m. on, and I hope the blues are happy there. There is plenty of space for the plants to be 2 feet or more apart from one another so I'm thinking about what I might grow in between...

Last edited: Fri Apr 02, 2010 1:50 am

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Sjoerd wrote on Sun Mar 21, 2010 12:43 am:

You are taking this on in a very organised and thoughtful manner.
You did quite a bit of work there today, didn't you. Those plots look perfect. I'll bet that you are really proud of yourself, aren't you. Rightly so.

I would not plant anything in between the bushes though. After getting the bushes in the ground, I would soak them (and the whole plots) very thoroughly and then cover the soil with a nice, thick mulch of pine bark chips and let them get on with it.

I am enjoying your documentation and look forward to more installments as things progress.

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