[NAFEX] Blueberries and ph

Anne Seymour aseymour at tpg.com.au
Fri Apr 1 03:48:15 EDT 2011


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.



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