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Habanero
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Posts: 16
Joined: Sun May 11, 2014 2:23 am
Location: Sierra Nevada Foothills, California. Zone 8a

Well, I went and did it. Say hello to the blueberries...

I did it! And I'm soooo nervous that they won't do well, so I only bought two, that way I only have to cry over $50 worth of plants instead of a few hundred. I'll give myself more to fret over if these do alright.

So meet Spartan and Jubilee, of the highbush variety!
Photo May 17, 5 36 00 PM.jpg
Up close:
Photo May 17, 5 36 11 PM.jpg
Photo May 17, 5 36 34 PM.jpg
Cute, huh? The guy at the nursery said they're maybe 3 or 4 years old already. My kids have already picked all the ripe berries off and enjoyed them thoroughly. There's nothing in the world like the look on a 6 year old's face the first time she tastes fruit from her own plant!

I really hope I got the soil composition right. From my understanding the soil here is really alkaline, and everything I read said that blueberries like acidic soil. The Jubilee plant has a PH tester in it, I know, but the thing only reads alkaline no matter where I put it. I even stuck in in the soil acidifier bag and it still read alkaline. Beats me!

So I mixed large parts of peat moss in with some of the native soil and stirred in that soil acidifier for good measure. The bag said to use like 2 cups of the stuff, but that made me uncomfortable, so I sprinkled in maybe 1/4 to 1/2 cup total for the 2 foot hole I put the plant in. I figured it's easier to add more than take it out. I'm not really sure how much water they like, either. On hot days I drench them once a day till that meter reads wet. On cool days like this I just give them a little shower.

And that "mulch" job is just leaves from around the yard crunched up in a bucket. Hope that's okay too. And they get 6 hours of full sun a day. Can you tell I'm totally biting my nails over these poor plants? Am I flashing "first time gardener" on my forehead here or what? This is way different than container gardening, buying premade soil for something just makes it so much easier.

So after all my worrying and fussing, they seem to be doing okay. No wilting, no critters eating them. The new leaves sprouting seem to be doing okay too, so I guess that means I did alright. Time will tell.

Until then, looks like I have more planning to do. Tomatoes, here I come!

-Habs

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ElizabethB
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Joined: Sat Nov 24, 2012 5:53 am
Location: Lafayette, LA

Re: Well, I went and did it. Say hello to the blueberries...

Hi Habs - welcome to the forum.

I am surprised that your meter is not giving you a good reading. They are usually spot on accurate when compared to lab test. Did you follow the package directions? I know there are a lot of different kinds on the market. I don't remember the name of the one I used in the past but the soil did need to be wet - kind of a thick slurry - for an accurate reading.

What are you using for an acidifier? 2 cups sounds like a lot. Was it 2 cups per plant or 2 cups for X number of square feet? Is it a granular product or water soluble? How many pH points was that 2 cups supposed to lower. Granular sulfur worked into the soil at a rate of 1 lb per 100 square feet will lower the pH 1 point. So you need to know he existing pH then do some math to figure out how much you need per plant - not much.

You really need to get an accurate reading on your pH. If you can not get your meter to work bring a soil sample to your county extension office. I have heard from other members that the extension service in CA is not the most responsive but it is worth a try.

Good luck
Elizabeth - or Your Majesty

Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

tomc
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Posts: 2665
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2011 6:52 am
Location: SE-OH USA Zone 6-A

Re: Well, I went and did it. Say hello to the blueberries...

In places where there is alkaline soil, you are going to test and re-acidify every year or every other year for a longish time. Oh like untill your grandchildren are old and grey...

Continue to look for examples of amelancher. I expect its going to be your only real long term blue-berry option.
Think like a tree
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Habanero
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Posts: 16
Joined: Sun May 11, 2014 2:23 am
Location: Sierra Nevada Foothills, California. Zone 8a

Re: Well, I went and did it. Say hello to the blueberries...

ElizabethB wrote:Hi Habs - welcome to the forum.

I am surprised that your meter is not giving you a good reading. They are usually spot on accurate when compared to lab test. Did you follow the package directions? I know there are a lot of different kinds on the market. I don't remember the name of the one I used in the past but the soil did need to be wet - kind of a thick slurry - for an accurate reading.

What are you using for an acidifier? 2 cups sounds like a lot. Was it 2 cups per plant or 2 cups for X number of square feet? Is it a granular product or water soluble? How many pH points was that 2 cups supposed to lower. Granular sulfur worked into the soil at a rate of 1 lb per 100 square feet will lower the pH 1 point. So you need to know he existing pH then do some math to figure out how much you need per plant - not much.

You really need to get an accurate reading on your pH. If you can not get your meter to work bring a soil sample to your county extension office. I have heard from other members that the extension service in CA is not the most responsive but it is worth a try.

Good luck
Hi Elizabeth. Thanks for getting back to me. The PH meter didn't have instructions really, it just said stick it in the soil and switch between light, moisture, and PH. It was $8, I'm not sure if that runs cheap for this sort of tool or not, it was the only one my Lowes had. Everything else on it is accurate. I'll take your advice and try to mix it with water next time I test.

For the acidifier I've got this stuff:
Image

Says it works for blueberries and hydrangeas specifically. It kind of looks like little lentils in the bag. It has this "broadcast rate," which to me sounds like tossing it all over a garden, it's 12 lbs per 100 square feet. Then there's the "For Hydrangeas & blueberries" portion which reads:

"Apply in the spring to lower soil pH. For new plants, use 1&1/4 cups. For established plants, use 2&1/2 cups. Spread evenly around the plant out to the drip line and water well. Repeat in 60 day intervals until desired pH or bloom color is achieved." :?

The blueberries aren't necessarily new plants, but I thought that maybe since they were new to this environment and soil type that this could apply? Hm. Wonder if I put too much now.

What signs would my plants display if the soil was overly acidic?

Thanks for answering all my questions. My kids and I are really excited about this adventure, I just hope that this black thumb of mine doesn't thwart me. Haha

-Habs

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