Trying Blueberries one more time

For the last two years, I’ve managed to kill every blueberry plant I’ve bought. Maybe I fried them in the sun or the water was too alkaline or it was too wet. One plant managed to survive it all. I planted the Pink Lemonade in 2’X2’ raised bed. For cross pollination, I’ve also planted a Sharpblue next to it. This is going to be me my last attempt if any of these die on me again. :expressionless:

Mulch with pine bark nuggets. Put lots of perlite and chopped peat moss in the soil mix to keep it moist, acidic, but well-draining.

These vids from former DWN associate Ed Laivo are helpful, if you haven’t already seen them. His varieties are better suited to Calif than the ones I’m familiar with.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=N3TzYSn3_s8

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=MnbYI4zaR48

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Yeah, I’ve followed his recipe every time. Still I manage to kill them.

probably too much direct sunlight.

to sour up the soil, i also use pineapple/orange/lemon/lime peel as compost.

Have any idea what the pH of the irrigation water is?Yes,it could be too high. Brady

I don’t know how alkaline my city water just a guess it is since they pump it from underground sources. I once tested the potting mix with a capsule test kit after the plant gave up. It came out in the acidic range.

The terracotta pot was built up with yellowish crud which I thought were salts from my irrigation water(not softened). The plant didn’t grow out of the tree sleeve shape either. This time round I scored the root ball with a garden claw.

All city water is alkaline and CA water is notorious for being extremely basic. You need to add battery acid to it. Or use rain water, or store bought distilled water. Try Sunshine Blue. Mr Clint seems to have no problems.
I can say for sure your problem is the pH. it always is the major problem.
Put sulfur in the soil yearly too. Use only fertilizer for acid plants. Regular fertilizer has nitrates which can cause possible harm. Ammonium sulfate works really well and acidifies the soil.
Also IMHO that raised bed is not raised enough! Buy 2x12’s! 1 foot at least!
The plants are putting roots in the native soil. At one foot it will not! Most CA soil is extremely basic.

I do all these things! Here’s the results

My town has well water, very basic. After several years of adjusting soil, fertilizer, water, etc, I concluded that growing blueberries is not woth the trouble for me. The yield was low, the birds were fast, too.

Last spring I dug up all my 7 bushes and gave them to a friend. What a relief. I have a local farm that has PYO blueberries. That is a fun outing with family and friends.

Blueberries are the most site specific species I grow so I can see how folks might give up on them. I have a couple of sites I’ve yet to master no matter what I try, and we get rain water as an irrigation staple so pH isn’t even the issue.

At other sites with the same recognizable issues (by me) as failed sites, simply mounding the soil (as you’ve done) adding sulfur and peat moss to the soil and mulching with conifer chips has worked.

I do believe the common wisdom that if your pH is beyond the low '7’s you might as well use the single large peat moss bale method- especially in the west where you have good control of the amount of water during the growing season- straight peat moss might be hard to keep from becoming excessively soggy here once you manage to moisten it.

Just keep the bale intact, cutting away enough plastic to place your plant inside it (once you’ve gotten the bail adequately moist). I’d throw some straw over the bale to prevent the sun from breaking down its bag.

In severely alkaline soil the alkalinity probably rises during heavy rains contaminating the more acidic stuff you put on top of it when you put plants directly in the ground, even if you’ve provided “adequate” new soil of proper pH.

For me, blueberries are an essential part of my fruit diet and I fill my freezer with about 20 gallons of them to get me through fall, winter and spring when I eat a couple big hand fulls of them every morning with cereal or waffles. And that’s after eating quite a few for most of summer.

In the northeast, having to protect them from birds is compensated by never having to spray for them and the small pruning requirement. I spent a day building a chicken wire house for mine with a functioning gate and it has protected my crop for the last 20 years.

Drew, they are 2X6" stacked up, so 12" deep. In fact, the lumber is true in dimension as it is over 100 years old! The wood chips are piled up around it real thick which I’ll spread out later.

That’s one of my suspicions. Hopefully, the Apricot tree will shade it out a bit during late afternoon.

That sounds like EBay material! :moneybag:
OK, cool!

You’ve been buying too many figs, I suppose! :wink:

The lumber came from the siding of a famous pier here in SF! It was going to become a barn but the owner sold the house and had to get rid of it. I got the painted/rotten/split ones and salvaged the good parts.

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Well that is true! I sell on EBay. I’m trying to get rid of all my junk, it’s going well! I have been an EBay member since 1998. So selling there is nothing new to me.
They do not look sun stressed to me.Southern highbush is meant to grow in the south and in full southern sun. I suppose though if you are in a very warm climate it might be too much. Hopefully the Apricot will help.
I can say for sure no matter how much acidic material you put in there if you’re using untreated city water they will fail to thrive, except maybe Sunshine Blue which can tolerate high pH better than most cultivars. I could be wrong, your plants look green. usually they are red when pH is off, so maybe it is the full sun? I would think that would how with pale leaves. They kinda look underfed blueberries are food hogs.
Also they hate to dry out, they must be kept moist, not wet.