emiwri
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Joined: Wed Feb 14, 2007 6:42 pm
Location: Indiana

Blueberries!

It's been such a nice weekend here in Indiana I went ahead and planted the blue berry plants! I did a soil test beforehand and the soil tested neutral, 7.0. I was reading that blueberries prefer acidic soil 5.5-6.0. After doing some shopping around my town I've discovered that nobody sells anything to make the soil more acidic short of miracle grow plant food for acid-loving plants. Can somebody remind me whu I shouldn't use the miracle grow, it's looking mighty attractive for short term use until I can get the soil modified.

As for the soil, does anybody know where else I could look for soil ammendment or know of something I can do at home? Someone mentioned crushed eggshells added to the soil would make the soil more acidic over time so I thought I might compost some of that into the soil around the blueberry plants. Any thoughts on this idea? Thanx!

Hortoholic
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Location: NH - Zone4

Eggs are calcium and are neutral PH based - not good for creating a lower soil PH.

What you need is garden sulfur. Apply it to the soil and work it in. If you can get a supply of pine needles, use them as mulch and they will help to lower the PH.....

Next time you are planting blueberries, mix in a couple of bales of peatmoss. I make my blueberries bed a 1peat to 2parts soil.

If you do get a load of pine needles they are an excellent food source for the berries and you should not have to feed them often. Mulching annually will cut out weeds and make your waterings go further. The only feeding I do is with [url=https://www.espoma.com/content.aspx?type=p&id=22&intCategoryID=4]HollyTone[/url], while not all organic, it's has numerous trace minerals to really feed the plant rather than just NPK....

In NH and Maine the native soils average around 5.6......Blueberries love growing in old pine groves.....

Good Luck :D
Last edited by Hortoholic on Tue Apr 24, 2007 12:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

emiwri
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Location: Indiana

Thanx hortoholic! I still have a bag of peat moss hanging around the garage from last year. I think I'll just go ahead and mix it in around the blue berries I just planted. I read that blue berry roots don't go too deep so I'm thinking of mixing it with the top 6-9" of soil? Can anybody reccommend how large of a diameter of soil around the plants I should ammend?

pixelphoto
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Location: Middle Georgia USA

If your soil needs to be more acidic, sulfur may be used to lower the pH if it is available. To reduce the soil pH by 1.0 point, mix in 1.2 oz of ground rock sulfur per square yard if the soil is sandy, or 3.6 oz per square yard for all other soils. The sulfur should be thoroughly mixed into the soil before planting. Sawdust, composted leaves, wood chips, cottonseed meal, leaf mold and especially peat moss, will lower the soil pH.


Here in Georgia where I am from we use plenty of pine bark and pine needles as its free just about everywhere.

Hortoholic
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Location: NH - Zone4

I highly recommend that you do not add sawdust or wood chips that have not been decomposed to your existing soil. It will suck all the nitrogen away from the existing soil and then create a water barrier if the top of the soil were to dry out and would then become extremely difficult to rehydrate it.

You can add your peat to the soil now it will be much appreciate by the berries. If we are talking High bush berries, as a rule I improve the soil 1.5 feet radius from the plant....They usually grow 3 x 3.

If we are talking the wild/low bush cultivars than they are ground covers and can easily fill an area....Just cover the entire bed.

Working peat & pine needles into the top 9" would do the job well.

emiwri
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Location: Indiana

That's very encouraging! Thanx pixelphoto and thanx again hortoholic!

What are the differences between high buch and lowbush. I'm guessing what I've planted are high bush as they are not wild varieties (that I know of). I believe they are Spartan, Top Hat, and.... :roll: I forgot.

Hortoholic
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Location: NH - Zone4

Spartan is highbush 5-6ft tall at maturity - so make your peat ring three feet around spartan.

Top Hat seems to be a dwarf highbush 24" tall at maturity

emiwri
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Joined: Wed Feb 14, 2007 6:42 pm
Location: Indiana

uh oh... :shock:


I planted them between a side walk and a fence. While they have plenty of room to grow from east to west, they are limited to about 2-1/2 feet north and south of the plant.

I wonder if the roots would be able to grow under the sidewalk.
I wonder if I WANT the roots to grow under the sidewalk.

Should I consider relocation? I was planning on cutting the plants back to keep them a manageable size but I can't very easily cut the roots back...

Hortoholic
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Location: NH - Zone4

Well, I can tell you that you will have to keep after your bigger cultivator with pruning to maintain your North-South 2.5' width....

I would consider relocating it to another spot if I did not want that maintenance issue....

pixelphoto
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Location: Middle Georgia USA

They may grow under the sidewalk depending on how thick the sidewalk cement is. If it is fairly thick I would think not. Most blueberry roots systems are very shallow and fibrous. They would probably not be strong enough to break up the cement like a large tree root would so you should be ok there.

emiwri
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Joined: Wed Feb 14, 2007 6:42 pm
Location: Indiana

Thanx for all the helpful comments! :)

Now (thanx to your help) I'm not so worried about the roots and the sidewalk. I'm not so worried about the plant's branches and such growing over the sidewalk as it's a walk that we never use going along our back yard. The 2-1/2" is the tillable section of land between the walk and chain link fence. If I could convince myself that the hard work would be worth it, I'd move the walk out from the fence more.

I wish I had a better spot to put it but I'm denied the permission to put it in the middle of the yard and the other spots I can think of just aren't particularly sunny. :cry: Bummer.

But I thought, why not give this a try and if I want to "move" it later I could start a new bush off a cutting, right?

Candida
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Location: Upstate NY

Blueberries and acid

I also have blueberries and have read that using coffee grounds will increase the acidity of the soil. I am experimenting with it this year. I have both highbush and lowbush. I get coffee grounds from a local coffee shop for free. I have spread perhaps 2-3 cups on top of the soil and just barely worked them in so as not to disturb the roots of the berries. I did this on a couple of each variety about 3 weeks ago. I think I will aim for once a month, not sure about how much or how often. I will post results when I have them.

emiwri
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Joined: Wed Feb 14, 2007 6:42 pm
Location: Indiana

Thank you, Candida, I can't wait to hear how it goes!

I have a gardening friend in CA who uses coffee grounds in her garden, but I didn't know that they would make the soil more acidic. I'll have to check that out! :D Thanx!

pixelphoto
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Location: Middle Georgia USA

p.s. hortiholic most commercial nurserys use sawdust in their blueberry potting mix. Just thought yad like to know.

JPIXI
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Location: France, Paris

Do Not water blue berries with tapewater, only with rain water.Blue berries are extremely sensitive to calcium in the water.Mulching the plant will help it to have firm and bigger fruits as it likes cool roots.Over fertilize blue berries will result in premature fruits dropping.

Amitié,
Pixi

Soteria
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Location: Indiana

I have some small 'bush' type blueberries that I planted in a large pot last year. I have two pots of three plants and even this year they are still quite puny and only one plant has fruit and not much of it. I had blueberry plants where I used to live and they got huge and fruitful very quickly!

What else besides coffee grounds would be a natural acidic producer in the soil? I live in the country with few options other than ordering online and am always trying to find natural every day products to use in gardening.

SOMETHING has got to get this little guys growing!!!

pixelphoto
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Location: Middle Georgia USA

Sotera all of these things will lower the ph making the soil more acidic......
peat moss, sawdust, pine needles, sulfur, shredded leaves (dead not green), and more you should be able to find one of those items somewhere I would go with the pine needles chop em up and place at the base of the plants if at all possible. The sulfur will be the fastest have to get that from a garden center somewhere. Everyone has leaves so shouldnt be a problem finding those.

Soteria
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Location: Indiana

pixelphoto wrote:Sotera all of these things will lower the ph making the soil more acidic......
peat moss, sawdust, pine needles, sulfur, shredded leaves (dead not green), and more you should be able to find one of those items somewhere I would go with the pine needles chop em up and place at the base of the plants if at all possible. The sulfur will be the fastest have to get that from a garden center somewhere. Everyone has leaves so shouldnt be a problem finding those.
We have 100 acres of woods but I don't know if there is any pine trees in there. Lots of walnut trees, oak, maple, crabapple and such. Dead leaves from all those would work? If I can find a pine, does it matter the kind as long as its pine?

pixelphoto
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Joined: Fri Apr 20, 2007 1:13 am
Location: Middle Georgia USA

The type of pine wont matter.
don't use the walnut tree leaves. I know walnut trees produce a chemical that is poisonous to other plants I know it is in the root of the tree but not sure if it is in the leaves so best to keep those leaves out of your blueberries.
The dead oak leaves will do nicely I run mine thru a chipper first to make them fine. I also do that with the pine needles.
it helps the leaves and needles break down faster.

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