[NAFEX] Blueberries decline

Lon J. Rombough lonrom at hevanet.com
Sun Apr 8 18:10:48 EDT 2007

The way you did it, you essentially made a big pot, so the roots don't 
move out of the sand into the clay.   Also, whatever water you add has 
trouble penetrating the interface between the sand and the clay, so the 
water doesn't move into the surrounding soil well, letting the "soil" 
in the "pot"  swing between soggy and dry all the time.   It would have 
been more effective to plant the berries in the clay directly so they 
would have a chance to adapt to it, with LOTS of organic matter added 
as mulch.  Soil life would open up channels in the clay with their 
feeding activities on the organic mulch (compost, leaves, etc) and the 
mulch would keep the moisture from having wide "swings" between soggy 
and dry.
-Lon Rombough
Grapes, writing, consulting, my book, The Grape Grower, at 
http://www.bunchgrapes.com  Winner of the Garden Writers Association 
"Best Talent in Writing" award for 2003.
For even more grape lessons, go to  http://www.grapeschool.com
For growing supplies and more;  http://www.grapegrowersolutions.com

On Apr 8, 2007, at 3:09 PM, BRosholdt wrote:

  I planted my blueberries by removing the heavy red clay soil and 
replacing with sphagnum and sand.  However, they have not been 
thriving.  They seem to get smaller and poorer every year.  Am I 
keeping them too wet?  I use a drip hose on them when it is dry.  I've 
heard one source say Calcium Carbonate would help loosen soil.  I have 
always put  wood chips on them in the winter and last year added a 
little sulfur and blood meal, to no avail.  I definitely am not 
overfertilizing them. Edible Landscaping advised that the northern 
varieties I was trying to grow (Duke, Patriot, O'Neal, Bluecrop) are 
more sensitive to the issues we have with soil and climate here in 
central Virginia, so I have planted a Star and Sunshine to see if they 
would do better.  Anyone have any other advice?

  Barbara R.
  Z7a central Virginia

  Re: [NAFEX] Chlorosis blueberries
  Lee Reich <garden at leereich.com>
  Wed, 4 Apr 2007 12:14:26 -0400
  North American Fruit Explorers <nafex at lists.ibiblio.org>

  Chlorosis of blueberries is usually due to soil that is insufficiently 
acidic (pH 4-5 is ideal) or poor drainage. Correct improper pH with 
sulfur. The amount to use depends on the pH change needed and the soil 
type, with heaavier soils needing more than lighter soils.

Some fertilizers can also make the soil less acidic. An excellent 
source of nitrogen that does not make the soil less acidic, does put 
the nitrogen in a form utilized by blueberries, and costs relatively 
little is soybean meal (or, more expensive but available in smaller 
packages, cottonseed meal). Spread it in late fall at the rate of 1-2 
pounds per hundred square feet.

Lee Reich, PhD
garden at leereich.com 

Books by Lee Reich:
The Pruning Book
Weedless Gardening
Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden

A Northeast Gardener's Year
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