[NAFEX] Blueberry decline

BRosholdt rosholdt at erols.com
Sun Apr 8 20:26:06 EDT 2007

Ooops, I live in Virginia, and attempt to avoid the "pot instead of 
plant" problem all the time. I can't believe I fell for that.  My soil 
is naturally acidic though heavy, but I had added lime in the spot I 
wanted to plant, so I thought planting on hills made of peat.sand above 
the clay would be good.  I'll move them where we have recently been 
working on the heavy soil, after adding sulfur.  This time, I'll just 
double dig, then plant (carefully not too deep or in a rut), put our 
great horse manure and wood chip compost all around, and finish by 
putting drip hose on top where I can watch it so it doesn't overdo it.  
I remember John Clark saying "Don't let them dry out."  Well, live and 
learn.  Then when they settle in, I'll see if I can get some organic 
soybean meal.  I did plant one blueberry, Star, in a real nasty place 
(almost unimproved), on top of  a hill.  So far it is fine.

Thanks so much, gentlemen.

Barbara R.   (Too much studyin', too little experience.)
Z7 Central Virginia (If you don't like the weather in Virginia, just wait)


Re: [NAFEX] Blueberries decline
"Lon J. Rombough" <lonrom at hevanet.com>
Sun, 8 Apr 2007 15:10:48 -0700

North American Fruit Explorers <nafex at lists.ibiblio.org>

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

Subject: Re: [NAFEX] Chlorosis blueberries
From: Lee Reich <garden at leereich.com>
Date: Wed, 4 Apr 2007 12:14:26 -0400
To: 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
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