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Author Topic: Acidify soil for blueberry?  (Read 4062 times)

funlul

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Acidify soil for blueberry?
« on: March 07, 2015, 01:19:51 PM »
While I was away, my "Bountiful Blue" blueberry in full bloom suffered a period of total drought due to neglect. Fortunately it survived, but the new leaves are kind of reddish.

OK, I should not blame the reddish color on the drought, the plant was always like it after moving in. If my cheapo test is to be trusted, the soil pH is above 7. I have wanted to acidify / improve the soil. Bought one lb of ferrous sulfate powder 2 years ago but never figured out what amount to use. There are no instructions on the bag, internet sources are more like commercial application. Any one has experience working with ferrous sulfate?

I also consider mulching the pot with some pine needles. Will it help at all? Many thanks!!

2 years ago...


now  :'( :'( :'(
« Last Edit: March 07, 2015, 01:23:16 PM by funlul »
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funlul

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Re: Acidify soil for blueberry?
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2015, 01:35:12 AM »
I found the following from an ebay product description for 30 lbs of ferrous sulfate:

Quote
This product is used to correct iron chlorosis in plants
Reduce alkalinity in soil and as a mineral feed suppliment for livestock
We use this product in bulk for a variety of agricultural uses.
As a soil applied fertilizer or nutrient: Dissolve 2-4 dry ounces in 1 gallon of water. Coverage is 1000 - 5000 sq. ft.
As a folier application: dissolve 1 dry ounce in 1 gallon of water.

Hmmmmm... Still not sure how often to apply.
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Bush2Beach

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Re: Acidify soil for blueberry?
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2015, 02:27:16 PM »
I've seen pine bark, chips, needles , peat and diluted vinegar work to acidify and make blueberrys happy.

funlul

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Re: Acidify soil for blueberry?
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2015, 02:58:27 PM »
I've seen pine bark, chips, needles , peat and diluted vinegar work to acidify and make blueberrys happy.

Thank you! I am gathering pine needles... But they are slow, really slow?
I'll try the 2 oz per gallon water recipe above, maybe... er... twice a year???? (clueless!)
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marklee

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Re: Acidify soil for blueberry?
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2015, 05:29:50 PM »
I just add "Ph down" and water the bushes, they are growing in pots but have done great for 5 years. Then prune them when they are dormant.

Doglips

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Re: Acidify soil for blueberry?
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2015, 08:58:02 AM »
Reddish is an indication of poor nutrient uptake.
Vinegar for instant pH drop.
Peat moss and or pine bark fines for short term pH drop, not super slow, but really should be done at mix creation for penetration, but do it anyways.
Sulfur solution for long term, takes a long time to work.
All three for the win.
Ammonium sulfate is a recommend fertilizer for blubes.  They like N and S.
Never used pH Down so don't know on that.
Iron can help, depending on how locked out the plant is due to bad pH.  The good about Fe, I don't think you can over do it.

As discuss in another thread, pine needles are not as acidic as bark.

TriangleJohn

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Re: Acidify soil for blueberry?
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2015, 04:08:40 PM »
I grew up in the center of the country where the soil and water was more alkaline and people struggled to keep blueberries alive. Then I moved to the east coast, bought a house with a large yard and went to town planting things. I have put in many many blueberries and the first two years after planting included hard summer droughts and I lost most of the plants each summer due to water stress. I dug them up and re-worked the soil in that row in the garden and installed a drip irrigation line. I did everything you can think of to help acidify the soil and then replanted with new bushes. Ever since then I have had to boost the acidity of the soil throughout the year. I use a lot of pine bark fines (small chips sold as "soil conditioner"), pine needles and I water with dilute vinegar/water solution once each quarter, AND I treat the soil with any number of over the counter soil acidifiers. Now my blueberries do fine and I get a bumper crop. If I wait too long to treat them they sulk and start to go downhill. The odd thing is, less than 300 feet away there are wild blueberries growing in the woods. No one babies them and they do just fine.

Viking Guy

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Re: Acidify soil for blueberry?
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2015, 06:51:37 PM »
Most likely nematodes getting your roots.  Either grow in pots or condition the soil to be, well, near soiless.
-Adam

ClayMango

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Re: Acidify soil for blueberry?
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2015, 07:01:28 PM »
Most likely nematodes getting your roots.  Either grow in pots or condition the soil to be, well, near soiless.


nemotodes are rolly polies right?
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funlul

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Re: Acidify soil for blueberry?
« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2015, 07:08:23 PM »
I did not have time to do anything yet. But somehow the leaves are all green now, old and new.
The magic of nature and spring, I guess...
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Viking Guy

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Re: Acidify soil for blueberry?
« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2015, 09:10:48 AM »
Here is a generic explanation of nematodes.

http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/nematodes?page=0,0

They are the primary reason for Blueberry failure when planted directly in the native soil.  Takes typically 1-3 yrs for the plant to die or stunt beyond return.

Most likely nematodes getting your roots.  Either grow in pots or condition the soil to be, well, near soiless.



nemotodes are rolly polies right?
-Adam

brian

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Re: Acidify soil for blueberry?
« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2015, 02:13:06 PM »
I had problems with in-ground blueberries that I always assumed was caused by high PH, but it could very well be nematodes.  They would always die after a couple years even with peat moss and sulphur added to the soil.  I switched to half-barrels of pure peat moss and they have been growing very well. 

KarenRei

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Re: Acidify soil for blueberry?
« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2015, 12:21:53 PM »
Most likely nematodes getting your roots.  Either grow in pots or condition the soil to be, well, near soiless.

I wonder why nematodes wouldn't be a problem out in the wild up here? Blueberries grow en masse bloody everywhere.

Could it because we have more of a mineral soil (lots of basalt of various sizes, from fine sand to large rocks)? Or perhaps are the wild blueberry types more nematode-resistant?

It's certainly not unusually cold winters - Brian in PA probably gets similar January lows to us. Our winters are longer, though.
J, g er a rkta surnar plntur slandi. Nei, g er ekki klikku. Jja, kannski...

Doglips

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Re: Acidify soil for blueberry?
« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2015, 01:17:45 PM »
I'm not quite ready to declare specific victory, too many unknowns, but since I installed the carbon filter on the blueberry irrigation there appears to be a marked improvement in my plants, darker leaf color and way more berries this year than last (I got 3 if I remember correctly).  Shortly after installing the filter I did hit it with beneficial-fungi, and I did fertilize.  I know tried adding fungi last year and the plants still struggled.  I don't have specific memory of fertilizing but it is a sure bet that I did.  I'm pretty sure I sulfered as well last year, so maybe the sulfur is just now kicking in.  There was an iron application as well this year.
So I don't think it was just the filter, but filter-fungi-fert.  I appear to be doing something right, for a change.
Next up is put everything on the filter, then I want to add an injection system for vinegar and other ferts.

Viking Guy

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Re: Acidify soil for blueberry?
« Reply #14 on: April 03, 2015, 03:48:37 PM »
Most likely nematodes getting your roots.  Either grow in pots or condition the soil to be, well, near soiless.

I wonder why nematodes wouldn't be a problem out in the wild up here? Blueberries grow en masse bloody everywhere.

Could it because we have more of a mineral soil (lots of basalt of various sizes, from fine sand to large rocks)? Or perhaps are the wild blueberry types more nematode-resistant?

It's certainly not unusually cold winters - Brian in PA probably gets similar January lows to us. Our winters are longer, though.

There are a variety of things here to consider.  There are definitely blueberries resistant to nematodes, but in Florida, the highbush varieties always succumbed to them due to other conditions weakening resistance (soil, heat, humidity), and smallbush proving more resilient.  There are also different types of nematodes that target different species.  Yet even though the smalls are more resilient, unless given near perfect conditions, they too will become affected at the first sign of weakness or deficiency--making in ground growing of blueberries a challenge in these parts.

Thankfully some varieties have proven very tolerable, but the taste is suffering somewhat.

One reason I can't wait to release my unique highbush to the public.  A variety we can plant and forget about.  :)
-Adam

shaneatwell

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Re: Acidify soil for blueberry?
« Reply #15 on: April 03, 2015, 08:17:42 PM »
I grew up in the center of the country where the soil and water was more alkaline and people struggled to keep blueberries alive. Then I moved to the east coast, bought a house with a large yard and went to town planting things. I have put in many many blueberries and the first two years after planting included hard summer droughts and I lost most of the plants each summer due to water stress. I dug them up and re-worked the soil in that row in the garden and installed a drip irrigation line. I did everything you can think of to help acidify the soil and then replanted with new bushes. Ever since then I have had to boost the acidity of the soil throughout the year. I use a lot of pine bark fines (small chips sold as "soil conditioner"), pine needles and I water with dilute vinegar/water solution once each quarter, AND I treat the soil with any number of over the counter soil acidifiers. Now my blueberries do fine and I get a bumper crop. If I wait too long to treat them they sulk and start to go downhill. The odd thing is, less than 300 feet away there are wild blueberries growing in the woods. No one babies them and they do just fine.

Ever tried grafting onto the wild ones?
Shane

Droshi

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Re: Acidify soil for blueberry?
« Reply #16 on: April 03, 2015, 09:13:38 PM »
My blueberries are doing good this year in grow-bags (some in $0.50 Walmart shopping bags). I grow in a soil-less medium mostly peat moss mix. Acidify with coffee and they seem to love it! But I do also give them foliar shot now and then.

ScottR

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Re: Acidify soil for blueberry?
« Reply #17 on: May 18, 2015, 05:43:48 PM »
I just add "Ph down" and water the bushes, they are growing in pots but have done great for 5 years. Then prune them when they are dormant.

Hey Mark, I have some Ph down but I've try mixing it in 1-gal at a time for soil drench and use Ph meter, just curious how do you mix yours for application? ;)

WGphil

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Re: Acidify soil for blueberry?
« Reply #18 on: January 11, 2016, 09:00:18 AM »
I mixed half peat and half ground pine bark, took three 10 foot 2X12's  with one cut in half and made the bed.  Keep filling it up with pine and it has done well with that alone.    Does five plants well. 

You have to make sure the peat you buy isn't PH adjusted, got to be the real deal.   

BahamaDan

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Re: Acidify soil for blueberry?
« Reply #19 on: January 15, 2016, 09:16:55 AM »
I've read about and seen pictures of a setup that has done very well for someone where they dug a wide trench of sorts about 3 feet deep, lined the walls with sheeting to stop the native soil from gradually raising the pH, laid some logs on the bottom and then filled in the rest with a peat and pine bark mix and planted the berries like that. They use normal acidifying fertilizers but it seems easier to keep the pH down and their plants grow well, I'll try to find the link.

 

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