[NAFEX] blueberries and peat moss
Louisa Rogoff Thompson
louisathompson at erols.com
Fri Oct 14 13:39:16 EDT 2005
Highbush blueberries are adapted to, and require, very acidic soils,
more acidic than almost all other food plants. In nature they grow on
hummocks in and around the edges of sphagnum bogs, which is why peat
(sphagnum) moss is such a good soil amendment for them. However, they
also grow on the thin acidic soils around outcrops of acid crystalline
rocks, and in sandy areas. They do need both high available moisture
and good drainage. If you use too much peat moss, the roots may rot
from too much water in the soil if it rains a lot or if the underlying
soil doesn't drain well.
I live in the Mid-Atlantic piedmont which has naturally acidic clay
soils, but my soil was not acidic enough for blueberries, which need a
pH below 5.0, preferably around 4.2 I think. I mixed my soil abut half
and half with shredded autumn leaves. When they first fall, leaves
still have a lot of nitrogen in them - it evaporates from them during
the first couple of weeks after they fall if they are exposed to air and
sunlight, but remains in the soil if they are worked in. They must be
finely shredded so they don't form impenetrable mats. I also worked in
some peat moss, but didn't have to use as much because the leaves become
humus which also provides excellent moisture-holding capacity and good
drainage. Peat moss is both expensive and non-renewable so I wanted to
use as little as possible.
I also mulched each year with fallen leaves. These were coarsely
shredded first by the mower, not finely shredded like the stuff at the
beginning. Generally 4-6" of this mulch.
My blueberries did very well for several years. When they became a
little chlorotic (yellow between the veins), indicating a need for iron
due to too high a pH, I gave them some flowers of sulfur (a yellow
powder) and that was all they needed. This sulfur powder is inexpensive
and easy to apply. Scratch it in with a rake very shallowly so as not
to disturb the roots, and re-cover with mulch.
Date: Thu, 13 Oct 2005 19:56:19 -0600
From: "Rodney Eveland" <reveland at collinscom.net>
Subject: [NAFEX] to fertilize blueberries
To: <nafex at lists.ibiblio.org>
Message-ID: <000601c5d062$79113370$c27ba8c0 at IBMWTKEQZ8JB5T>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
I would think that planting Blueberries in ph 7.0 soil would provide
far more transplant shock than adding fertilizer so why not compromise
and plant the blueberries in peat moss, like one of our Nafexers who
said that is how he got around the "wrong soil type" problem, and then
water the blueberries with a "Miracle Grow type" acid fertilizer which
just happens to be about the perfect ph that raspberries are looking
for. They like acid soil. One of the Pomonas of the last year or two
had an article about planting blueberries in a bag of peat moss.
Because I live in an area with heavy alkaline clay, that is what I
would have to do if I wanted to grow blueberries. Ideally the soil ph
should be adjusted to the proper level months before planting.
Here is a general statement about planting blueberries:
In addition to an acid soil, blueberry plants require a soil that is
well aerated and has a high water-holding capacity. Most garden soil
is not good blueberry soil, so modification of the soil is frequently
necessary. Prepare the soil to accommodate one plant by removing soil
from a space 15 inches deep by 24 inches wide by 24 inches long.
Replace this soil with one prepared from 2 bushels well-rotted
sawdust, leaf mold, or peat; 1 bushel loam soil; and 1 cup wettable
sulfur. Mix well and refill the hole with this mixture.
I would think very seriously about putting a $2.00 plant in a $20.00
hole if you want to guarantee success. (Give the plant what it needs
from day 1).
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