Hi all, I have some ~3 yr old potted blueberries that I grew from air layerings, and am looking to get them in the soil before the heat of summer hits here in New England. These are from a set of very old bushes that have been in my in-laws’ back yard for over 70 years (supposedly - in-laws moved into the house 40 years ago, and previous owners of 30 years said the bushes pre-dated them).
The potting soil they’re currently in (I think was Promix and composted manure) has pH 6-6.5, and I can see a bit of chlorosis in the leaves, so I need to get them out of there sooner than later. My issue is that I have a location for them that is near pine trees, giving a soil pH of 5.5-6, but the soil is a bit sandy and N content is very low. Separately I have some very nice topsoil/compost blend left over from another project that I know is extremely rich, but pH is ~7-7.5. I’m looking for advice about get them in soil for long term health and productivity. I don’t care about this year’s berries if it means higher productivity in coming years. Should I plant directly into the acidic soil and amend with compost/fertilizer to get it more nutritious, or should I plant into the rich topsoil/compost mix and get the acidity down? What’s the better/healthier long-term solution? To get acidity down I have sulfur, but am open to other ideas as well (would ammonium sulfate run the risk of shocking/burning the blueberries?). Thanks for any advice!
I’d probably plant them in the native soil and maybe churn in some peat moss.It takes awhile for the sulfur to work,but that could be added,when planting.
If they need fertilizer,Ammonium Sulfate will work,but use very little,like a teaspoon dissolved in a gallon of water.
From what I’ve read,manure tends to have an alkaline pH.
I planted one each in a raised bed and half wine barrel. For the raised beds, I used 70% fir bark (sold as pathway mulch) and 30% peat moss. Used 60% bark, 20% peat and 20% pumice in the wine barrel. Amended both plantings with Down TO Earth Acid mix while planting and fed them liquid fish fertilizer once a week. They both are doing well.
The problem is pH in both soils. Blueberries are happiest in high organic soil with pH around 4.5 to 5.0. I would plant them in the soil near the pine trees and cover the top of the soil with the organic mix at least 4 inches deep. Add sulphur liberally, enough to bring the pH down to a level the plants can tolerate. Ammonium sulphate can be used from the beginning but be careful, a little bit goes a long way.
Once someone ‘suggested to me to plant bare root blueberries with bit of soil from a blueberry farm. i think the idea was to bring along a bit of the mycorrhizae native to blueberries. I don’t know if that is good advice or old wives tale stuff but if you have access to an 80 yr old blueberry patch….
When I planted blueberries in rocky/sandy soil, without adding any peat, they grew slowly and produced little fruit for several years. After I mulched them with wood chips and applied Ammonium Sulfate (21-0-0) regularly, they produced a lot more new growth as well as more fruit. It was too much fruit, resulting in small berries. This problem was solved by proper pruning: removing some of the oldest stalks/branches every year. You need to remove enough old growth to induce new main stalks that grow rapidly upward to replace the stalks being removed. The plants now provide a good crop and are about 6 feet tall.
According to the USDA breeding report that got posted a couple days ago, the realization that blueberries need acidic soil and myco to properly uptake nutrients was the key to the plants that were being selected from the wild for breeding not fizzling out and dying within a couple years (at most). I kind of suspect you’ll end up with the desired fungus either from your live blueberry plants having it already or the environment.