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Blueberry soil work

Posted by jscaldwell Zone 5, CO (My Page) on
Wed, Nov 2, 05 at 18:55

I recently ordered a Jersey Blueberry plant by mail, and now have it in a pot so it can grow over the winter indoors (in Colorado) and be transplanted next spring.

I understand blueberries love acidic soil and high organic content in the soil. Where can I find acidic peat (doesn't seem like a home depot-type item)? And, should I work it into my future planting bed now with some aluminum sulfate, as I've heard you should prepare the soil for planting 6-12 months ahead of time? THANKS.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Blueberry soil work

jsc:

The spaghnum peat moss you find in bales at Home Depot, Wally Mart, and many local nurseries is what you are looking for. It is acidic in nature, and will improve the soil texture to the liking of blueberries. It is more difficult to find baled peat in the fall than in spring, but someone ought to have a bale or two around. If your soil is heavy and lacking in organic content, you may mix in around 50% peat after digging a nice wide and deep hole.

Rather than use alumimum sulphate as an acidifier, which I have not found very effective and adds aluminum to the soil, I would suggest you cast about for a small bag of agricultural sulphur. That may be a little difficult to find too, but it is out there, and you may have to go to a nursery rather than HD to locate some. Sulphur is a much more effective and longer-lasting acidifier than aluminum sulphate. If your blueberry plant ever gets the yellows, I would suggest application of a few handfuls of iron sulphate scratched in around the surface of the plant. I use this chemical every year in spring on my blueberries and it turns them very deep green every time.

It may take some special attention to keep your blueberry plant alive in a low-humidity indoor environment over winter. Make sure the pot has good drainage, and is neither over nor under watered. Normally, blueberry plants go dormant during winter, and I am not sure what effect trying to keep the plant growing indoors will have, but I doubt it will be favorable. Personally, I would have waited until early spring to order in the plant, but soil preparation is certainly a timely activity now. If the plant is still alive in spring, you will want to get it out and into the soil as soon as possible.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA


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RE: Blueberry soil work

I don't think it's worth putting the plant though the changes and going through the trouble with it indoors to get a head start. Blueberries are slow growers, so I doubt you will get much growth in a pot over winter. When you put it into the ground in the spring, it will start growing much faster and spread out. I haven't been able to find any sulphur yet, but I've been mulching with pine needles and leaves :)


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RE: Blueberry soil work

Miller Nurseries carries the elemental sulfur for blueberries.


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RE: Blueberry soil work

  • Posted by ellix augusta ga (My Page) on
    Sun, Nov 27, 05 at 17:36

I live in Ga and recently bought 5 blueberry bushes--because they were half price. I want to know can I safely plant them this time of the year?


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RE: Blueberry soil work

ellix:

Absolutely plant them right now. All the alternatives are much worse. They will probably be fine in your climate. Buy a nice big bale of spaghnum peat moss and a bag of elemental sulphur, and prepare the soil well first. Soil preparation before planting will pay dividends in the future.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA


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RE: Blueberry soil work

I have read that Aluminum sulfate is toxic to blueberries. Sulfur is best along with peat. Ammonium sulfate can be used, but most blueberry bushes need very little fertilizer. It can burn the roots. Heavy doses of organic matter works wonders.

Mike


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RE: Blueberry soil work

Blueberries grow great in peat moss in our area even though peat is generally too acidic for blueberries. Peat is on average of 3.8ph and blueberries prefer between 4.5 to 5.5 ph. Luckily our municipal water source is alkaline which brings my peat moss up to where it needs to be. Please refer to my planting instructions on "Blueberry bed prep/spacing" it is 13 forums above yours.


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RE: Blueberry soil work

You probably won't need the sulfur in Augusta specifically unless on highly limed soil (recently an agricultuarl field or a yard with one of the grasses that likes neutral soil; common centipede grass would normally NOT be limed). Your natural soil should be quite acid. The peat moss will help a lot, though, whether on sand or clay.


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RE: Blueberry soil work

All of you need to read my reply on the question "Blueberry soil prep/spacing"


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RE: Blueberry soil work

Don, as you know I plan on growing my blueberries in whiskey barrels. Would you still suggest that I prepare the soil ahead of time? I know where I can get agricultural sulphur. Yes, I have to drive an hour for it, but I will get it


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RE: Blueberry soil work

bomber:

By all means prepare the soil well before you plant in whiskey barrels. You won't be able to do it so easily once you plant. My mix would be about 50/50 peat moss and compost, with several handfuls of sulphur, and maybe a little ammonium sulphate at planting time to give the plants an acidic nitrogen boost.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA


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RE: Blueberry soil work

How far in advance though, I guess is my question....


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RE: Blueberry soil work

  • Posted by vgkg 7-Va Tidewater (My Page) on
    Tue, Jan 24, 06 at 13:12

Don or anyone, I planted BBs 2 years ago and did use the peat moss when planting and also use it as a mulch. Also applied ele sulfur too. They produced fairly well last summer even though still young. I've never trusted Aluminum sulfate but how do you all feel about using Iron Sulfate as a soil acidifier? (it is at my local Lowes). Thanks for any thoughts. vgkg

ps, sorry jscaldwell for hijacking your BB thread


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RE: Blueberry soil work

vgkg:

Iron sulphate is what I use, both to acidify and supply plenty of iron in the soil. Results are visible in a matter of two weeks or so. I do not use aluminum sulphate, which I have found to be far less effective than iron sulphate. However, I don't use just one thing. Like you, I mix in plently of peat moss (up to 50%) at planting time, and also use elemental sulphur for long-term acidification. I also use a couple handfuls of ammonium sulphate, an acidic fertilizer, scratched in the the soil around the plants in spring. And I mulch the plants heavily with pine needles or stable manure in late fall. All of these things, in combination, seem to lead to healthy blueberry plants.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA


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RE: Blueberry soil work

  • Posted by vgkg 7-Va Tidewater (My Page) on
    Tue, Jan 31, 06 at 13:14

Thanks Don! I look forward to year #3 here. Happy Harvest!


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RE: Blueberry soil work

  • Posted by murky z8f pnw Portlan (My Page) on
    Wed, Feb 1, 06 at 17:47

Don,

I must have a faulty memory. I thought you had warned against using any kind of manure on blueberries. Hmmm. I'll have to go back to the archives.


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RE: Blueberry soil work

Murky:

I have consulted the so-called Jellyman "brain", but found that there are very few archives there. Only odds and ends of little real importance.

Pure, straight manures are often considered to be alkaline in character, but the stable manure I obtain is at least 60% and often more wood chips that the stables obtain in large volume from sawmill operations. Horse manure is really quite low in nitrogen -- in the range of 4-5%. On balance, I am pretty sure the stable manure I use in my operations here is, if anything, acidic in its chemistry. I probably would not recommend the use of fresh, pure manures, such as poultry manure, which is great for things like sweet corn and watermelons, but I don't think would be so good for blueberries.

If you find anything in the archives, let us know, and I will try to put it back in the Jellybrain.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA


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RE: Blueberry soil work

manure in the fall to compost open air over winter low temperature is best way i've used it but don't on leafy crop are garden compost manure first I think Mr.Yellman use race horse manure lol.


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RE: Blueberry soil work

I planted some blueberries over the last couple weeks, in heavily amended soil (peat moss with tons of organic additions "Master Nursery" Azalea mix) I also added substantial organic matter from our compost, and mulched with pine. The area I amended was 2 feet deep and three feet wide per plant. I would guess that the roots are happy enough for the time being.

What I didn't do, was to work in any sulphur. I now stare at the non-amended soil between the blueberries, and wonder if the basic pH of that soil, will counteract the amending I did.

Should I work sulphur into the soil *between* the plants?

Also, the only space we had to plant was near a wall (Actually in a high bed that is walled on both sides) with buried concrete. How much of a problem is alkaline leaching from concrete? I am hoping the good drainage from the raised bed will be a boon to the plants. I worry about the concrete.

Finally, how much and how often to water? Keep in mind the blueberries are in a lot of peat, and in a raised bed (about three feet or more high.). The surrounding soil however, is clay.


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RE: Blueberry soil work

I live in south texas where the soil is very basic and I just planted my blueberry bushes. However Im very new at gardening and did not do my research. I planted them soil only adding some mulch and a liquid soil acidfier I bought from my local nursery. Are my blueberry bushes going to be okay or should I dig it up and sneak in some peat moss on the bottom soil.


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RE: Blueberry soil work

hi.i leave in uk. i planted blueberries( IN MAY) in whisky barrel- 2 blueberries to each barrel.i got problem with leaves on one of my blueberries "BONIFACY", the inside of the leaves are covered in brown mosaic patches.The patches appear to be "THICK".3 months later ( AUGUST) external side of leaves turn mosaic yellow, some of them mosaic yellow-red, some of them develop small red spot and red patches.AND now Leaves starting to fall.i hav`t see any insect. i use systematic insectide. i spray this blueberries with iron chlerade! but did`t help! the dark patches started appear just after planting (MAY)only on one of my blueberrie, all the rest are fine! i use ericaceus liquid fertilizer ones a week, and i also fertilize them ones with ammonium sulfate. i planted them in ericaceus compost and peat moss. and mulch with pine needle and bark chips.I purches captan from usa, becouse in uk is could`t buy any fungicide for blueberries. What i can do? du i should use captan? can somebody tell me when to use Captan? is this fungus infection? can somebody help me thanks aga


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RE: Blueberry soil work

Elemental Sulfur is the best thing to use for acidifying the soil. It does the job, and you can get the "fast acting" kind, so it works fairly quickly.


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