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My blueberries are finally in...

Posted by brownmola San Diego (My Page) on
Sat, Feb 22, 14 at 18:47

Thank you to everyone for their wonderful advice on containerizing blueberries especially bamboo rabbit for getting me started. Never thought I could grow them here and I am super excited.

I've got a Jewel, Emerald, and a Windsor in 21" wide pots. The Windsor was pretty root bound, ended up slicing off the bottom 2 inches to help loosen up the roots. I did not bare root them as they looked like they arrived in a bark/peat mix I would be making anyways.

I am using a mix of fir bark (1/2" and less) peat, and perlite. Probably more like a 5:2:1 mixture, a little more added peat than the 5:1:1 mix. The middle pot has lighter bark because I ran out of the Greenall Microbark and used some Rexius orchid bark I had leftover from a grittyy mix I made earlier. I've mixed in some Dynamite Organic All Purpose CRF. I did not mix in gypsum since the fertilizer I'm using has calcium. Will sprinkle a little Epsom salt in the top of the mix for the magnesium. I am definitely watering with vinegar although I forgot to add it on my initial watering : )

I'm leaving them partially shaded although do I need to since they are dormant?

Any problems you can see or added advice?

Will keep everyone updated. Thanks again, I love this forum.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

  • Posted by fruitnut z7b-8a,4500ft SW TX (My Page) on
    Sat, Feb 22, 14 at 20:40

They don't need shade. Keep them out in the sun. But when it gets hot the pot could use some shading. That's to keep the roots cool.

I'm feeling a little hesitant about your fertilizer program. Blueberries need special fertilizer for acid loving plants. This means mostly ammonia based nitrogen, not nitrate. And I haven't heard of anyone applying Mg or Ca. You might do that for figs but not blueberries. High levels of Ca and Mg are associated with high pH soils not the low pH soils needed by blueberries.


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

I'm feeling a little hesitant about your fertilizer program.

Since the fertilizer is organic, I would imagine that it will be fine for blueberries. It's probably blood meal, bone meal, etc. The 3:1:2 ratio looks good, and I bet it's not all that dissimilar from what blueboy has used so successfully. Still, it might not hurt to supplement with an ammonium-based soluble fertilizer, brownmola -- Jack's Classic Acid Special, MirAcid (from MIracle-Gro), or simply ammonium sulfate (I've yet to try it, but fruitnut has gotten stellar results with ammonium sulfate for his potted blueberries). Just don't overdo it.

And I haven't heard of anyone applying Mg or Ca.

Since a lot of soluble fertilizers lack Ca and Mg, it's a common recommendation from folks over in the container forum to supplement with gypsum and epsom salts when using a potting mix that doesn't include dolomitic lime -- I'm guessing that's where the OP picked this up. I've used both on my blueberries for a number of years for just that reason, but I don't know that they're essential.

It looks like you've done your homework, brownmola, and are off to a good start. Have you checked your irrigation water pH? It sounds like you plan to acidify it with vinegar, but you'll need to do some experimentation in order to figure out how much you need to add.

This post was edited by shazaam on Sat, Feb 22, 14 at 21:38


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

Thanks guys. Fruitnut I used the organic Dynamite CRF to put into the mix but was actually planning on top dressing with Foxfarm Happy Frog Acid Loving Plant Fertilizer when the plants break dormancy and are actively growing. Too much fertilizer??? The Foxfarm is also organic so less danger of overdoing it?


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

I just looked at the back of both fertilizers and it looks like there is very little ammonia based nitrogen. Both say water insoluble nitrogen (feather, bone, cottonseed meal, etc...)

Is that a big issue? I'd like to stay organic if possible with the blueberries but would rethink it if the plants will be stunted. Thanks!


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

Cottonseed meal is excellent and Happy Frog and Dynamite are top rate companies with excellent products. That organic nitrogen is fine! But I would just let it alone until they are actually growing. At first sign of growth use it. it takes a couple weeks to supply nitrogen. If wanting to stay organic you're doing well. Other products are just straight cottonseed meal, and also Holly-Tone. Holly-Tone also has sulfur in it which is cool too. It is organic also. Magnesium sulfate aka Epsom salt not a bad way to add magnesium as you also add sulfur. Green sand can also be used. I too believe trace minerals are important, but not much is needed.


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

Hi,
I'm about to pot up 10 blueberry plants as well in the same soilless mix you are using, except I'll use vermiculite instead of perlite.
Will the organic fertilizer breakdown ok since we are using a soilless mix? I thought the organic fertilizers need the biological activity found in regular soil to properly breakdown and be available for plants to absorb.

I've been looking at chemical fertilizers and have been seeing a lot about ammonium sulfate only, but what about all the other nutrients since the soilless mix doesn't supply any?


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

Uh-oh...had no idea about organic fertilizers possibly not working in this mix. Can I add some compost to my soilless mix to be able to use organic fertilizer, which I know starts shifting me away from the main purpose of soilless mixes? But maybe not a total shift?


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

There may be a liquid or water soluble organic fertilizer out there with all the right nutrients,but I haven't found one.
I use the one that shazaam mentioned,Jack's Acid Classic 17-6-6.Actually Jack's Professional 21-7-7 is what I switched to,because it comes in larger bags and both have micro-nutrients.
It's used for all my potted Blueberries.I've used different things for the in ground plants.I'm not really sold on totally organic yet. Brady


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

So I think I'm going to experiment a little by using an acid based chemical fertilizer mentioned above on two of the blueberries and will try organic fertilizers on the other.

Is my understanding correct? If I add azalea potting soil to one of my 5-2-1 (bark, peat, perlite) containers, organic fertilizers will work because there is soil now for the microorganisms to break down the fertilizer? I would still do a repot of this container annually like I would with the two soilless containers so hopefully that will help with compaction.

Thanks!


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

"I just looked at the back of both fertilizers and it looks like there is very little ammonia based nitrogen. Both say water insoluble nitrogen (feather, bone, cottonseed meal, etc...)"

If I remember correctly, organic sources of nitrogen first break down into the ammonium form, after which microorganisms convert them to nitrites and and then nitratres. Those microorganisms are generally scarce in low pH soils, so nitrogen as ammonium predominates in those environments. So...that's why blueberries do best with ammonium -- it's the form of nitrogen that's most common in their native soils. While they can certainly use nitrate, they don't use it nearly as efficiently, and there's some evidence that nitrate in excess can be detrimental (or deadly).

So, in low pH soils, fertilizing blueberries organically works perfectly well. As Chelsea pointed out, though, container soils are far from ideal environments for the microorganisms that jump-start the whole process by breaking organic fertilizers down into plant usable nutrients. You can make the environment more hospitable by keeping the potting mix from getting too hot or dry (two things that your blueberries will appreciate anyway). Large pots help to stabilize soil temp and moisture levels, so your 21" pots are good in that regard. Shading the pots, as fruitnut, suggested is a very good idea, as well. Ultimately, though, I think you'll be fine. I've successfully used organics on potted blueberries (primarily cottonseed meal and alfalfa meal), and there's a forum participant and blueberry grower in Florida (blueboy) whose potted blueberries thrive on a balanced organic fertilizer. Supplementing with a water soluble synthetic is a way to hedge your bets, though. I like Jack's Classic Acid Special is probably my current favorite -- it's a high quality, reasonably well balanced formula.


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

  • Posted by fruitnut z7b-8a,4500ft SW TX (My Page) on
    Sun, Feb 23, 14 at 9:32

There will be enough microorganisms in any mix to break down organic fertilizers as long as the organic fert stays moist. If you must mix in a teaspoon of soil. That will contain all the organisms needed.

I've only repotted one blueberry in 10 years. That was a 15 gal pot done after 7 years. I didn't think even that was necessary. There were no large roots circling the pot even thou the top was huge and the plant yielded 18 lbs one yr. I've had more issues with the mix breaking down and becoming waterlogged all except right on top. So my advice would be don't repot unless the plant losses vigor or the mix settles excessively and won't hold water like it did. When the soil waterlogs the plant losses vigor and no amount of fertilizer will get it going again.


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

"If I add azalea potting soil to one of my 5-2-1 (bark, peat, perlite) containers, organic fertilizers will work because there is soil now for the microorganisms to break down the fertilizer? I would still do a repot of this container annually like I would with the two soilless containers so hopefully that will help with compaction."

I doubt that adding azalea mix will make a big difference for the microorganisms, although I can't be sure of that. To my mind, soil temp and moisture levels are the two most important factors for keeping microorganisms happy and abundant. They don't actually need soil (as in dirt) to function or survive. As for annual repots, that might not be strictly necessary.

EDIT: Listen to fruitnut. I see that he posted while I was working on my post, and his experience has had a big influence on my thoughts on repotting fruits. I used to repot annually (as is usually advised for perennials in Al's 5-1-1 mix), but then I saw fruitnut's methods and results and rethought the whole equation.

This post was edited by shazaam on Sun, Feb 23, 14 at 9:43


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

Hi,
I found HFPC Hydrolyzed Fish Powder that is mix with water and is 11-0.25-1

This might work seeing as how it is liquid form. Here's a link
http://www.groworganic.com/hfpc-hydrolyzed-fish-powder-40-lb.html

There are smaller bags available.

Plus here is a nice list of organic fertilizers and their info:
http://groworganic.com/media/pdfs/FertilizerChartweb2012.pdf


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

Hi fruitnut and shazaam,
I understand how microbial activity is affected by moisture and heat, but I live in Ft Worth where the days get to over 100. I'm thinking at that heat, there is not going to be much activity even if I shade the pot.

So I am thinking the hydrolyzed fish powder (mixed with water) that is 11-0.25-1 applied to roots weekly or monthly depending on how the plants are growing, plus liquid kelp for its growth hormone (does growth hormone work on blueberry plants?) and trace minerals, and Epsom salt for magnesium, and gypsum for Ca.

Think this would work well?


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

That fish powder STINKS. I bought some from Peaceful Valley with the intention of doing just what you're suggesting, but I used it a lot less often then I planned because I just didn't want to deal with it. It's a fine powder, so it will stick to your hands, clothes, etc., and you'll inevitably splash some of it on you when you're watering. Plus, if you have raccoons or other nighttime visitors, they might decide to dig up your plants in search of the stinky fish that must be buried there somewhere. All that aside, though, it would probably work fine for you. :) It's worth pointing out, though, that it isn't 11% water soluble nitrogen. If you like at the manufacturer's fact sheet (linked below), you'll see that it's only 2% water soluble nitrogen, which means that it's still going to take microbial activity to make the bulk of the N available.

Here is a link that might be useful: California Spray Dry Fish Powder


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

"...I live in Ft Worth..."

The blueberry grower that I mentioned above (blueboy) is in the Houston area, I think. He gets great results with an organic fertilizer called MicroLife that's available in your area. If it works for him, I don't see why it wouldn't work for you.


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

I like to use Biota-Max to make sure bacteria are in the pot. I also have been talking to the producers of MycoGrow about adding the mycorrhizae fungus that blueberries need to their excellent product. They said they were having problems finding it, and did I know a source. I pointed them to a commercial source. Hopefully they will grow it out. Using beneficial fungi really make a difference. In the meantime they suggested taking some soil near the roots of my existing blueberry plants and adding it to the root zone of any newly planted ones. So I'm going to do that. Possibly inoculating the pot with blueberry friendly spores.
Check out the number of species are in the product in the link. I bought some food products from this company too.
Here is an example of what beneficial fungi can do

Here is a link that might be useful: MycoGrow


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

Thanks for connecting them with that source Drew.That will be cool if they can put out the mycorrhizae that Blueberries can use at a decent price.
I may try putting a little soil from the in ground plants into some potted ones. Brady


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

Have you ever taken an antibiotic that wiped out your normal flora of bacteria? Well like any organism you are healthier and less susceptible to infection when your normal flora is healthy, every niche is taken and pathogens cannot get in. Same with plants. I think you will have less disease problems and overall healthier plants if you keep the fungal and bacterial populations up around your plants.
I can't say I have seen a difference as so many factors, fertilizer, soil, light, water and air. But these products are cheap, both can be added every season to all your plants for under 20 bucks.

Speaking of bacteria I want to try this product too as a preventative.
It can be used on fruit trees too. trying to stay as organic as possible although that seems hopeless.

Here is a link that might be useful: weaponized bacteria


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

Thanks everyone for chiming in, I really appreciate it. Well I'm going to try and use the organic ferts that I have and hopefully the conditions of the soilless mix in the container are okay to break them down. I'm also going to use miracid or jack's acid to supplement just in case. Does anyone else do that?


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

Oooo, MicroLife has an Azalea 6-2-4 that has Extra Sulfur, extra Humates plus a special Bio Inoculant package that includes specific Mycorrhizal Azalea fungi. I can add this just below the rootball when planting my bare roots. I may experiment with this versus chemical fertilizers mentioned above.
Thanks shazaam!


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

And then use the regular MicroLife 6-2-4 on my 5 bare root raspberry plants coming in the mail in the next 2 weeks


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

Chelsea, what raspberry plants are you getting? I bought Niwot this year, the new black raspberry primocane aka the first fall bearing black raspberry.

" I'm also going to use miracid or jack's acid to supplement just in case. Does anyone else do that?"

Well I use organics and supplement with ammonium sulfate.
So very similar. I go very light though, I also add a touch of miracle grow, to add the PK in NPK. I only use a teaspoon of each in 2.5 gallons once a month, sometimes every 2 weeks in the middle of growing season.


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

Drew,
I'm getting 1 prelude (summer), 1 Jaclyn, 1 Joan J, and 2 Anne (yellow). I'm super excited to get all these things growing after hours and hours of research :)


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

I have a boat load of raspberry cultivars. I don't have Jaclyn and Joan, keep us updated on progress. I like Anne, but it burns easily, and is a weak grower. I have it on the side of my house where it get's only eastern light. Seems to do very well there. The berries are really good. Prelude is one of my favorites. Other favs are Caroline, Encore, Polka, And Fall Gold. I like Fall Gold a lot, it produces like crazy, berries are good, fruit holds a long time. The longer you leave them the sweeter they get, but great to pick early for jam. This year I have a lot that will produce for the first time, so super excited about it. Sometimes fall bearers are very late the first year. Some of mine were so late I didn't get any berries. I have seen they adjust and produce earlier the 2nd year. My experience so far.


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

"I also have been talking to the producers of MycoGrow about adding the mycorrhizae fungus that blueberries need to their excellent product."

Santiam Organics has a mycorrhizal product line called Myco-Edge that includes an ericoid blend. I just stumbled across it recently in the new Territorial Seed catalog. They offer both a granular product for root dipping and a soluble product for root drenches (the latter has both endo and ericoid fungi). It's not cheap ($29.50 for 1 lb of the soluble product), but I'm almost certainly going to give it a try this spring.

Here is a link that might be useful: Myco-Edge


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

Nice find, shazaam!
I read up on types of Mycorrhizal fungi and it seems only Ericoid Mycorrhizal fungi work for blueberries so the MicroLife with Ecto and Endo Mycorrhizal fungi is useless.
Also, studies show that inorganic fertilizer had better results when used in conjunction with Ericoid Mycorrhizal fungi than the organic fertilizer did. Crazy!
And I'm crazy for wanting to spend $30 for 8 oz of the Myco-Edge :)


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

Granular formula says to work in 1/4 to 1/2 cup per plant. At $25.50 for 8 oz, that covers only 2-4 plants. OMG that is expensive!


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

It will work for me with only three plants going in, hopefully MycoGrow will offer a product in the future. And it is the product to use for everything else.


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

That's the best price I've seen yet.$50 was about average,but I'm not sure about the amount.
Perhaps after using it for awhile,some of the media could be transferred to other plants.Thanks,shazaam. Brady


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

Chelsea,

I cant speak for the Ericoid Mycorrhizal as Ive never used it but dont turn your back on Micro Life fert! The proof is in the puddin! Thats the only thing Ive ever used on my plants for 4 years now and I couldnt be happier with the results. I dare who ever did that study to come dig around my plants and say the other mycorrhizal do nothing for blueberries. Im no scientist by any stretch of the imagination but I know what a happy plant looks like because Im growing them. Its not only the fungi they put in Micro Life that helps either but all the organic fert thats included gives your plant every thing it ever needs and then some. Plus its slow release and will not burn your roots like chem ferts can. Ive used both the Azalea and regular Micro life with fantatic results. The only time I use the Azalea fert is if my Ph starts to drift alittle on the high side. One small application is all it takes to get the Ph back down from the sulfer included in it. If you have access to Micro Life I would highly suggest using it. One other note that might be more important than the fertilizer used is your water source. IMO rain water is the KEY to growing blues in pots. You can give a plant every thing it needs with different kinds of ferts be it organic or chemical but if your water is hard your fighting a loosing battle.


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

Blue boy,
I see what you are saying. I did order some MicroLife, both the azalea mix and the vegetable mix. It does seem like a really good complete fertilizer. My raised beds didn't do too well last year and I bet it is because it was new from the nursery and lacked the various kinds of mycorrhizal fungi, especially since the nutrient levels were good (soil test).

I only wish it was carried in more locations. I'm in Fort Worth and it's not around here. How much do you pay for a 7 lb container? There's only one or two places that carry it online.


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

Each plant uses different fungi, you have to make sure you have the right species. What I like about MycoGrow, all species are listed. What I do is mix MycoGrow and Biota-Max in water, dunk my plants before I plant them, then drench them with the water. The 6 dollar package has enough fungi for hundreds of plants. So established plants get fresh doses every year.
Bacteria help breakdown organic matter, stimulate hormone release, prevent pathogens from establishing. Often bacteria are not complete in the soil. Between the two products these fungi and bacteria are added.
Trichoderma harzianum
Trichoderma viride
Trichoderma koningii
Trichoderma polysporum
Bacillus subtilis
Bacillus laterosporus
Bacillus licheniformus
Bacillus megaterium
Bacillus pumilus
Glomus intraradices,
Glomus mosseae,
Glomus aggregatum,
Glomus monosporum,
Glomus clarum,
Glomus deserticola,
Gigaspora margarita,
Gigaspora brasilianum
Gigaspora etunicatum
Rhizopogon villosullus,
Rhizopogon luteolus,
Rhizopogon amylopogon,
Rhizopogon fulvigleba,
Pisolithus tinctorius,
Scleroderma cepa
Scleroderma citrinum
Trichoderma harzianum,
Trichoderma konigii
Bacillus subtillus,
Bacillus licheniformis,
Bacillus azotoformans,
Bacillus megaterium,
Bacillus coagulans,
Bacillus pumlis,
Bacillus thuringiensis,
Bacillus stearothermiphilis,
Paenibacillus polymyxa,
Paenibacillus durum,
Paenibacillus florescence,
Paenibacillus gordonae,
Azotobacter polymyxa,
Azotobacter chroococcum,
Sacchromyces cervisiae,
Streptomyces griseues,
Streptomyces lydicus,
Pseudomonas aureofaceans,
Deinococcus erythromyxa
Paenibacillus polymyxa

Some are listed twice as they are in both products, but some are only in one or the other product, this really covers the range of microorganisms.

This post was edited by Drew51 on Mon, Feb 24, 14 at 20:36


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

Blueboy,
Do you know if the MicroLife contains Mg and Ca? My search turned up nothing and I have yet to hear back from the company.


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

Chelsea, I had the same problem with my vegetable bed the first year with nursery soil. My soil had a lot of wood chips in it which tied up all the N2 when it started to compost it all down. I didn't fertilize enough to compensate for it and every thing suffered. The second and third season was great.

I buy the 40lb bags of Micro Life at a local nursery for $45. I believe the 7lb cans are $20 something from what can remember.

Good question about the Ca and Mg. Not sure about that but I can tell you my plants have never shown any deficiencies at all. Some are 5 years old and most are going into there 3rd spring with me.

Right now my plants are just about in full bloom. I think I may start another thread and post some pics so you can see what Micro Life will do for these plants. I'm absolutely sold on this stuff!


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

I buried ton's of wood at the bottom of my beds the first year and had ton's and ton's of fantastic growth, so not sure the wood chips really tied the nitrogen up? I had so much growth I go out of my way to put wood in new beds.
But I used lot's of compost, and also slow release nitrogen in my bed. It seems to have worked well. Lot's of peat added too. Some potting soil, and lot's of garden soil. The garden soil was Miracle Grow and it has time release in it. I could not refuse the cheap price at Sam's club. A big bag for 5 bucks each.
The practice of putting wood at the bottom is called hugelkultur. I'm sold, works super well!

Here's my first year bed

Raised beds 2013 08 15 photo 006.jpg

Here is a link that might be useful: hugelkultur


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

Ok, cool. I bought some from berings.com. $17.99 for 7 lbs. they don't sell the 40 lb online. But they are having a sale on MicroLife right now for $12.99!


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

Blueboy,

Thanks for showing your plants in the other thread. Awesome! Your plants look as about as healthy as one can get! What is in your potting mix? I have three coming this year, and want to hear what others are using. i agree, adding microbes works, I'm going to add from 4 different microbe sources to mine. Just to make sure! So exactly what is in your pots? I know you mentioned the fertilizer, which is not available around here, but other organics are great too. Curious as to the basic mix.

Anybody know any online sources of microlife?

Also blueboy, what cultivars do you like? Just curious when i move I need to start over, again curious as to what others like.

This post was edited by Drew51 on Tue, Feb 25, 14 at 10:22


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

To add to Drew's question to Blueboy :)

How often do you water? I notice that you are in Houston and also have your blueberries in containers, so you get the same HOT summer sun as I do and I have no idea how often/how long to water for.

I have a drip system I may install soon. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

Drew,
I got mine at Berings.com. They are having a sale right now, so it's $12.99 for 7 lbs


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

Drew, my basic mix is 50%pine bark, 30-40% sphagnum peatmoss and 10-20% perilte. Ive also switched the perlite for coarse pavers sand. Couldnt see any difference in growth. Really you could probably exclude the perlite and just up the pine bark a little. Bamboo has some friends that grow in pots with 100% pine bark but they have to use a little sulfer to keep the ph in the 4 range. As far as varieties I weeded them down twice to my current plants. I now have Snowchaser, Springhigh, Jewel, Emerald, Sweetcrisp and Sunshine Blue. If I could only have 3 plants it would be Sweetcrisp, Emerald and Snowchaser. All the varieties listed were the best of all my varieties I trialed. Snowchaser and Springhigh were my 2 earliest ripening varieties and as it turned out they were also 2 of my best tasting varieties. Snowchaser stole the show on taste alone. Jewel and Emerald produce major lbs so a must have from production stand point and also an above average berry size with good taste. Sweetcrisp is in a class of its own and from what Im seeing now on my 4 year old plants I would have to question the lack of production that seems to hang over this variety. Both my 4 year olds are loaded with fruit buds this year and I actually had to thin them for the first time. Seems they just may take a little longer to really put on the fruit. If I had to have just one plant it would be Sweetcrisp.

Chelsea, to keep the pots from over heating in the sun I wrap the pots in several layers of tin foil. Even so they still seem to really slow down in the heat of summer and Im sure the pots heat up despite my efforts. I believe the best thing would be bury the pots in the ground if you have good draining soil or mound up mulch to the lip of the pots. I cant bury mine as I have clay soil here and drainage is very slow to say the least. As far as watering I start off slow in the spring. Its all weather dependant and you kinda just have to get a feel for it. Good thing about blues is you really have to try hard to overwater them. Usually in the spring its once to twice a week. In April weather depending, 2-3 times a week. By the time May gets here and we start to push 90 degrees Im pretty much watering every day all the way through summer. In Sept/Oct I start backing off the water to minimize tender growth going into winter. Dont back off too much though because thats when they start putting on fruit buds and lack of water can make a huge difference in the number of fruit buds set.


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

Fruitnut suggested a couple of the early ones too, same cultivars. I'm worried in my zone they will not work. Really NHB is better here, I have three currently. I want to try SHB though. So I chose ones that will grow here. Southmoon and Legacy. But I want to try Sweetcrisp too.
So those three have been ordered. Southmoon and Legacy are meant for colder zones so might work better here than your place. Plus I got a report that indeed they do perform well here.
If it works maybe the early ones can adapt to this zone and produce early for here, but not too early. The NHB seem to vary less, I have Toro, Liberty and Chandler. Toro and Liberty are good, but I need to trial more cultivars to form a more educated opinion. I will add more NHB once I move. My NHB are in ground. I may try to propagate when I do move in about 4 years.
On the mix I thought of messing with it, but if not broke don't fix it! I will use pumice instead of perlite so I can recycle. Pumice works well in raised beds and never breaks down. So will work well recycled into raised beds. Perlite lasts a long time, 5 years or more. So if I don't have enough pumice, I'll use perlite. My budget is shot for the year. It won't really hurt to use it.

Thanks a lot for the answers, very informative!


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

One question i also have is what exact Microlife products are you using? The Azalea, but what exactly is the other product?


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

Drew, I like the idea of pumice in a mix. Its porus and never breaks down like you say. Sounds like it would do fine. I wasnt really impressed with Southmoon at my location. The berries had a very distinct off flavor to my whole families palate. My oldest son said it had a after taste like the smell of bleach. I agreed but I did notice that after refridgerating the berries they were actually pretty good and that off taste seemed to dissappear. It did put on a lot of fruit and was one of the coolest looking plants I had in fall. It was like a fire bush with all the dark red and orange leafs. It was a real eye catcher! The problem I think you will find the early varieties of SHB is early bloom during mild weather in your zone then freezing temps. Offcoarse putting them in pots will give you some flexibility being able to move them if bad weather hits. One note on Springhigh is that it sets alot of fruit with out pollination as its the first to make berries in my area. The only plant I have that opens flowers around the same time is Emerald but Springhigh seems to have a very short bloom to fruit set time compaired to all my others so really it needs to be self pollinating and it is 100%.

I just the regular Micro Life 6-2-4. I only use the Azalea fert if I notice chlorotic leafs coming on because that means my Ph is drifting above 5.2. At that point, one application of the Azalea 6-2-4 will lower the Ph back into the desirable range and the leafs green back up nicely in several weeks.

This post was edited by blueboy1977 on Wed, Feb 26, 14 at 0:51


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

Thanks for the watering info, Blueboy. My plants will be in tan fabric containers and sitting in a mulched area. Good idea mounding mulch around them. I'll have to try that. Can't wait to get my blueberries in the mail!


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

Yes, I have 2 negative and one positive reports on Southmoon. I'll have to try it here. The colder zone might make a difference, at least I hope it does, and if not a good excuse to buy another plant :)
Yes the early ones may not be worth trying. Once I have enough, just for fun, I'll try one.
Fruitnut likes Santa Fe too, did you try that one?
Ton's of NHB cultivarsI want to try too. Sweetheart is a double cropping hybrid. Darrow, Hannah's Choice, Spartan an early one for this area. Also standards like Jersey, Bluecrop. Some from my Alma Mater MSU like Blue Jay, Aurora, and Bonus. Bred here for here! It makes sense to grow what for sure will grow well here.


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

UPDATE:

The blueberries have been potted for about 3 weeks. Swollen buds, looks like it is about to break dormancy. However, I did notice a 2 or 3 very dried out branch tips. I checked the soil and it is moist, not soggy. Is this normal? Except for 2 days of heavy rain, it has been very sunny, 70-80 degrees. Should I move them into shade until they leaf out or are 2 or 3 dried branch tips not that big of a deal (very small, I pruned off about a 1/4"-1/2" dried tips).

Thanks!


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

Usually you want to acclimate new plants i.e. slowly expose them to more and more sun. If you have had them out three weeks they are acclimated or hardened off now. Probably the brown tips were due to sunburn, but if it has been 3 weeks they should be fine where they are at. Pay attention though, other causes like fertilizer burn, root damage etc. could also cause that symptom.
Blueberries usually like full sun unless you live in a place where it is extremely hot and sunny all the time.
I myself slowly expose plants more each day for 2 weeks. I have to do it every year with my cacti I bring in every fall. Tomatoes and peppers I start from seed under lights. Over the years, I have found this a very safe period for acclimation. You can push it to one week, but I have found 2 weeks works a lot better for me.
Cacti are tough, tomatoes and peppers need the proper air and soil temps, besides slow sun exposure. Much tougher to get them hardened off.


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

Thanks. I'll keep a close eye on them. I sprinkle some Epsom salts into the container two days ago so I wonder if that played a part.


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

They're probably just getting acclimated to their new environment, and a little die back isn't at all unusual in my experience. They more than likely lost some root volume when they were packed for shipping, when you repotted them, etc., so it could be that they're simply equalizing the canopy size with what the roots can currently support. That's just speculation, of course, but I see no reason for concern at this point.


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

Super excited. They are all about to break dormancy, buds are swelling. I will be using Jack's Acid fertilizer. Do you guys start fertilizing now when they the buds start swelling or when the plant is showing more growth and sending up new shoots? Do you use full strength fertilization or half strength?

Thanks!


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

If organic full dose. I use an organic and supplement with soluble at 1/4 strength. I like organic as it stays in the medium and is used when needed, but soluable runs right through. I would fertilize soon. With organic do it now.


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

I wait for new shoot growth to fertilize and am using similar stuff,mine being their 21-7-7 instead of yours at 17-6-6 if I recall correctly.I did use Jack's Classic Acid Special for a couple of years with good results,but switched to the other because of a bigger container.Having over fifty plants,the little tubs were always running out too quick.
Most of my Blueberries get their first shot in April and then once a month through July at one tablespoon per gallon of water. Brady


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

Thanks Brady!


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

Alright so everything looks great so far, everything is starting to leaf out and flowers are forming. But now it looks like I have fungus gnats? Lots of little black fruit fly looking things on the surface of the soil. Any suggestions? I know drying out the soil is a remedy but I know blueberries hate dry soil.

Thanks!


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

Yeah I deal with them a lot. I have found the best way is to go after their young. Add 1 tbsp. of H2O2 to a gallon of water and water your plants. it won't hurt them, might even oxygenate the roots, will kill the gnat eggs. in the soil. This at least knocks down the population. I germinate peppers and tomatoes inside, and have about 35 house plants. I seem to get them each year. I tried BT, didn't really work. Yellow sticky strips is a way to get the adults, I never tried it. Hydrogen peroxide worked well for me. I do have BT in all my plants too, In the form of mosquito bits. But I noticed a decrease when I used H2O2.


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

Thanks Drew. Just finished watering with the hydrogen peroxide. Do I keep watering until I don't see them any more? Weekly? Daily?


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

I highly recommend Gnatrol..it's a biological larvicide. Buy it online, dissolves in water, and gnats gone in a week or two since it doesn't kill adult gnats.


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

Just add it to regular watering for a couple of weeks. If no results try the Gnatrol. You can get it at amazon. Although I found the h2o2 works pretty good! I had some on hand, i didn't have to buy anything.
Actually if no results in one week, double the dose. it does work! I used it on seedlings, none died! It's safe and does help makes roots grow. H2o2 is an emegency treatment for air starved roots.


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

So, I haven't started fertilizing but I was going to go with Jack's Acid Special for some of the blueberries and try and go mainly organic with the one of the blueberries. I had already purchased Happy Frog Acid Loving Fertilizer when earlier in this thread it was mentioned that organics may not work in a soilless media. I emailed Foxfarm to ask about if organic fertilizers would work in soilless media and this is what they responded with:

"It is true that you have to provide food for them or they will cannibalize, but with the use of Bushdoctor Microbe Brew, you can achieve amazing results with millions of beneficial colonies. They attach to the roots of your plant, so it doesn’t matter if you are in soil, NFT, DWC, or straight hydro. The Happy Frog Acid Loving Plants will inoculate your medium with a great deal of mycorrhizae, and if you sustain their populations by supplying food for them, i.e. Microbe Brew, Molasses, etc., They will exponentially populate your medium regardless of its makeup."

Can anyone offer any insight into this? I have no reason to not believe them but would like an outside opinion since a lot of the above mentioned information is way above my head.

Thanks.


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

It would be nice to have the right species for blueberries. And my bet it doesn't.
Fungi of the genus Hymenoscypus or Rhizoscyphus, and most typically Rhizoscyphus ericae.
If not this fungus, it will not attach to the roots.


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

I can see the value in providing good energy sources for soil microbes, but don't overlook cheaper alternatives that might be just as effective as that snazzy brewed stuff -- blackstrap molasses, hydrolyzed fish, kelp, and homemade compost tea for example. To my mind, though, it's even more important to provide an environment that's conducive to microbial activity. You can do that by keeping the potting mix temperature as stable as possible (this is especially important in hot summer regions where root zone temps can get really excessive, especially in plastic pots), by keeping the moisture level stable, and by using a potting mix that drains well (so that it holds plenty of oxygen at all times). Of course, these are also the conditions that promote healthy root growth, so they're well worth your attention even if you're not especially concerned about soil microbes (i.e. if you're relying exclusively on synthetic fertilizers).


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

--duplicate post--

This post was edited by shazaam on Wed, Mar 26, 14 at 20:21


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

The cloth bags really stabilize temps. I heard on a gardener broadcast about a test of smart pots. Plastic reached 120 F whereas the Smart Pot was at 80 F .
40 degrees cooler, that's a huge difference! Might not help at the start of the season though! (tomatoes, peppers) I like to mix dry molasses in with the soil. In all my blueberry pots. As is the proper fungi, and I'll be adding bacteria once outside for good.


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

brownmola,
This is a 3-4 year old Jersey Blueberry plant that was mostly if not entirely being fertilized with Jack's Acid Special.I bought it at Home Depot back then along with one other Jersey and two Draper.It was at the end of growing season and these plants were scrawny,neglected and under watered.They were about a foot tall and cost $3.33 each.
Right now they are about four feet all look similar to the one in the picture and this is after pruning. Brady

This post was edited by Bradybb on Wed, Mar 26, 14 at 22:06


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

Thanks guys. I really appreciate the insight and advice. Jack's Acid Special it is then.

Brady are your blueberries in a soilless mix? Do you use CRFs or just the Jack's fertilizer?


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

I mix about 3 parts of conifer(Pine and or Fir)bark mulch to 1 part Peat moss and some Perlite if available.
I've never tried CRF with Blueberries.I bought some Osmocote and gave some to other plants recently.I've also tried Fish/Kelp/Molasses.That can get kind of expensive,especially if using the cold processed liquid fish.It depends though on how many plants someone has and money to spend. Brady


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

"Do you use CRFs or just the Jack's fertilizer?"

Someone just mentioned Miracle-Gro Shake 'n Feed Tomatoes, Fruits, & Vegetables CRF in a thread in the Container forum, which reminded me that a frequent poster there (edweather) has had good results with this particular product for blueberries. While it's not as long lasting as Osmocote Plus or Dynamite All Purpose Select, most of the nitrogen is in the form of urea and ammonium with less than 20% nitrates. If I'm not mistaken, Ed also uses some ammonium sulfate on occasion.

Here is a link that might be useful: Photos of Ed's Blueberries...

This post was edited by shazaam on Thu, Mar 27, 14 at 10:54


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RE: My blueberries are finally in...

I have nothing to add, but just wanted to say thanks for everyone's contributions to this thread. I've read a ridiculous amount of books on growing fruits and vegetables, container and urban gardening, etc. over the past couple years, and the info in this thread wasn't covered in any of them. Thanks!


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