[NAFEX] Blueberries and ph

Caren Kirk quirky at videotron.ca
Mon Apr 18 18:01:21 EDT 2011


  Hi Anne,

Sorry, I missed out on some of the earlier e-mails so maybe someone 
suggested this already. I would imagine that Coconut Coir is fairly 
available in Australia (or maybe I am being presumptious). It is a 
renewable resource that often replaces peat. Although it is not as 
acidic (slightly acidic to neutral ph), it is certainly an easy way to 
work plenty of organic matter into your soil. Sawdust might be another 
alternative. As for the Lucerne, I couldn't find any reference to it 
making a significantly acidic compost but I defer to others on this point.

I did read that calcium sulphate was an even better source of sulphur to 
acidify soil; have not tried it though.

I planted my blueberry patch last year but  have a fairly acidic soil 
already and mixed a lot of peat with it. I am going to experiment with 
amending just with compost and mulching heavily and seeing how this 
goes. As you say, I can always try adding something else if they start 
looking unhappy.

Good Luck,

Caren Kirk
St. Jerome, QC

On 4/11/2011 7:36 PM, Anne Seymour wrote:
> Hi everyone
>
> Thanks so much for all the replies about blueberries and soil ph.  I want to thank everyone individually but that is probably just annoying to send lots of emails so here is a general thanks to you all.
>
> Here are my plans/ theories so far gleaned from your advice...
>
> I have heard peat moss is great for blueberries and heard of some people with very alkaline soils growing them in bales of peat but I was wanting to avoid using it because of it's non-sustainable nature.  Shame as it would be a perfect solution.
>
> I just bought a bale of lucern hay and put my 14 year old son to work.  I got him to empty my compost bins (with my ph9 compost) and pile it all up together in a pile and then refill the bins in a ratio of one bucket of compost followed by one bucket of dried leaves and one bucket of hay, so a 2:1 ratio of dry/brown/carbon : alkaline compost.  Hopefully after 6 weeks or so (I'm guessing here)  this will cook and turn my compost from ph9 to around neutral.  It should be beautiful and highly nutritious compost by then hopefully.
>
> So now I have to be patient and wait 6 weeks till we can plant our 18 blueberry bushes.  We are in Sydney, Australia so I will be using Southern Highbush varieties such as misty, legacy and also  magnolia blueberries and perhaps a Darrow.
>
> After the compost is cooked then I will dig the compost into my garden beds (one is ph6 and one ph7).  Any suggestions here as to how much compost to how much soil?  I am assuming about two inches of compost dug into a foot deep hole of soil across a three feet wide.  Is that enough compost or should I put in more?  Don't know if more will be too rich and burn the roots?
>
> I was then planning to do a wide mulch (well beyond the width of the bushes) of about 6 inches of lucern hay in the hopes that the hay will leach some acid into the soil as well as some nutrients.  I am also hoping that the mulch will protect the plants from competition with weeds as well as keep the roots cool.  As you said Alan, perhaps the high organic compost/soil mix and mulch will counteract the too high soil ph by providing more available iron and also I have heard that perhaps some blueberries fail not from too high ph but from their roots getting too hot as they are such shallow rooters.  Perhaps the mulch and compost both help to provide low weed competition, more moisture and more iron and other nutrients making the ph less critical.
>
> If they don't do well I have the dry iron sulfate theory of Don Yellman sent by Lucky as a back up plan.  I wonder how often Don applies the iron sulfate?  I have read that vinegar diluted in water can be applied regularly (say once a month) to keep the soil acid though I have also read that it only works for a few hours to make iron available.  Anyone have any success using vinegar?  Being into doing all things organically/naturally I will probably not even try vinegar but juice some lemons and put the lemon juice into a watering can diluted with water once a month to see if that works.  Always one to make things harder for myself!!!  I guess if the lemon juice doesn't work I could then try vinegar and if that doesn't work try the iron sulfate after that.
>
> I have been trying to find some more mature blueberry plants and someone may have some 3 feet high plants about 4-5 years old growing in pots.  I will also be planting some tiny new blueberry plants but was wondering if I could also plant some of these more mature plants and not have to take off the flowers for the first 2 years and be able to let them fruit straight away as their root systems will already be bigger.  Would this work or should I still remove their flowers for 2 years so might as well just buy the cheaper tiny plants?
>
> Any thoughts on my plans would be great.
>
> Thanks
>
> Anne
>
>
>
>
> On 01/04/2011, at 6:48 PM, Anne Seymour wrote:
>
>> Hi
>>
>> My teenage son has developed a love of growing things we can eat such as watermelon, sweet potatoes, bilberries, etc.  We are now about to buy about 15 blueberry trees (probably misty, legacy and magnolia) and wanted to ask people's thoughts about ph.  I know they love an acid soil around4.5-5.5 but I did hear that some people on this list had the opinion that they could grow in higher ph soils if they had lots of compost in the soil.  I will be planting them in two beds one of which is ph6 and one ph7.  There are a few azaleas and camellias happily growing in those beds now.  I have heard contradictory things about blueberry requirements.  Some times I read they like sandy, nutrient poor soil and at other places I have read they love lots of organic material/compost.
>>
>> I have a couple of compost bins which have only ever had fruit and vegetable scraps thrown in and the bins' ph is 9 so way too high for the blueberries.
>>
>> The soil in the beds has been undisturbed for at least 30 years since we moved in.
>>
>> I am wondering if I should put in my compost in spite of the high ph in the hopes that it will provide lots of organic matter and nutrients and that the soil will 'buffer' if back to a lower ph relatively quickly.
>>
>> On the other hand perhaps I should keep the compost out as it will just increase the ph and make my blueberries either die or produce no fruit.  Possibly I could add lots of dried leaves to lower the compost ph and just use it later as a mulch.
>>
>> On the 'third hand' I had read the comment I mentioned earlier that they can grow, and fruit well, in higher ph soils if there is lots of compost.  Presumably this means the iron and other nutrients are high enough because of the compost to counteract the high ph.
>>
>> I like to do everything 'organically' without additives or chemicals.  I have read that I could just put sulphur, or sulphate of iron or flowers of iron or iron chelate (no idea what is the differences between these)  into the soil but I was desperately hoping I could avoid any of these and just use my soil and compost.
>>
>> I would really appreciate any advice.
>>
>> Thanks
>>
>> Anne
>>
>>
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