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Author Topic: My Blueberry Growing Tips..  (Read 397 times)

JoeReal

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My Blueberry Growing Tips..
« on: June 11, 2019, 11:52:42 AM »
We have alkaline soil, alkaline water, very hot summers, not an ideal place to grow blueberries, but I managed to have productive harvests.

We’ve been harvesting a bowlful of blueberries every day from our yard. My selection of cultivars is such that we have blueberries starting from February up to first week of August. But now is the peak time.

Southmoon, Revielle and Misty are my biggest bushes and they have wide gaps in terms of peak harvest and their fruits don't ripen at the same time.  The medium sized bushes are Jubilee and O'neal. Then I have small pots and grafted branches of Berkeley, Bluemoon, Patrick, Blueray, Sharpblue, Pink Lemonade and Reka. I also have yet unnamed seedling blueberries given to my by David Young, and I call them DY1, DY2 and DY3 and am excited to evaluate their fruits maybe within a couple more years. I love Southmoon the best so far.

I have three distinct microclimates where I placed my blueberries. I have almost tropical, subtropical and temperate microclimates to make sure they would produce fruits at different times. In the hot California summers, I keep them all away from the afternoon sun, only the morning sun, so they don't suffer any leaf burns.

One thing that the blueberries don't like even during the winter, never let the potting media dry out!  The potted blueberries love to sit in 1 to 2 inches of standing water, so I put a 3" deep drain catching pan at the bottom of the pot. This will make sure your blueberries won't dry out during the hottest days.

If you want to go organic, fertilize them with acidifying organic fertilizer such as cottonseed meal, and other blueberry fertilizers approved by OMRI. As for the potting media, use sphagnum moss, peat moss, mixed with sand and soil sulfur. Regularly apply soil sulfur in little amounts about monthly after you flush the potting media with rainwater or acidified water.  If you're okay with non-organically approved fertilizers, apply tiny amounts of Osmocote Plus slow release fertilizer once a year, but regular twice monthly application of ammonium sulfate or urea.

I am in Woodland California and our city water is alkaline, and the blueberries hate it, so I save a lot of rainwater. I flush the pots with rainwater once a month. If you didn't save rainwater and need to acidify the water, you can add little bit of sulfuric or phosphoric at a time until the water pH is between 4 to 5 and use it to flush the pot once a month.

Blueberries needed to be watered daily during the growing season. Twice a day when it is over 100 deg F during the summer. During winter, watch out for weeklong periods of no rain, you may need to water them once during that time.
 
I am still in the process of moving my blueberries from the pots to the ground, which is my ultimate goal. In order to do that, I am preparing sparkleberries for planting and am growing them from tiny seeds. Sparkleberry can thrive in our alkalaline soils and is graft compatible with blueberries. Some grafts are known to last more than 30 years, so I plan to make multi-grafted blueberries with sparkleberry as the rootstock. Then I don't have to deal with the acidifying the soil and water in order to get blueberries!

It took me ten years to discover on my own,  the secrets of growing blueberries in our area not suited for blueberries. I took it as a challenge and now am sharing how it can be successful.  Am still on a long term quest for another milestone, which is having a multi-grafted blueberry growing in the ground. But the research goes on and on in trying out various cultivars and the container growing.

0bb4 by Joe Real, on Flickr


0bb2 by Joe Real, on Flickr

0bb1 by Joe Real, on Flickr


SeaWalnut

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Re: My Blueberry Growing Tips..
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2019, 06:38:54 PM »
Im also interested in ways to lower PH long term from neutral soil.Acetic acid ,vinnegar its an organic acid ive used to add carbon for bacteria to bloom in saltwater aquarium.Ive used sugar ,vodka and vinegar as a carbon source for bacteria.Sugar has 100 peercent carbon almost while vodka and vinnegar are depending on their strongness of degrees with 40 percent carbon in case of vodka has 40 degrees and 5 percent for 5 degrees vinnegar.Otther carboxillic acid like the vinnegar is ,but much stronger ( strongest organic acid ,almost like sulfuric)its oxalic acid wich its found in manny plants ( Oxalis).Im learning if i could use such crops around my acid loving plants and if they can accidify the soil long term.Beware of Oxalic acid cristals if you think to use them because its really dangerous stuff,not like vinegar,much stronger.
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/what-is-sorrel_n_1662188
« Last Edit: June 11, 2019, 06:56:53 PM by SeaWalnut »

arc310

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Re: My Blueberry Growing Tips..
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2019, 09:29:50 PM »
thanks for the detail info...my experiences with blueberries is that the first year i get them..i get a crop. and then after that...i get nothing..NADA...maybe some flowering and then nothing. haha.

zephian

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Re: My Blueberry Growing Tips..
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2019, 10:20:07 AM »
Nice harvest!
I keep my blueberries under my persimmon tree positioned so that they only get morning sun as well. Besides the pot my dog keeps knocking over I have 3 heavy producers so far and am starting 4 or 5 more - though I fail to recall the varieties. They were 'random selections' from Baker Creek.

I'm just now getting ripe berries. Last year these same 3 plants only produced 4-5 berries each now I have probably 200 in all. I haven't had to water mine over the winter yet but will keep an eye out for that in the future. The only special treatment I give them is osmocote and some pine needle mulch.
-Kris

JoeReal

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Re: My Blueberry Growing Tips..
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2019, 01:15:07 PM »
Im also interested in ways to lower PH long term from neutral soil.Acetic acid ,vinnegar its an organic acid ive used to add carbon for bacteria to bloom in saltwater aquarium.Ive used sugar ,vodka and vinegar as a carbon source for bacteria.Sugar has 100 peercent carbon almost while vodka and vinnegar are depending on their strongness of degrees with 40 percent carbon in case of vodka has 40 degrees and 5 percent for 5 degrees vinnegar.Otther carboxillic acid like the vinnegar is ,but much stronger ( strongest organic acid ,almost like sulfuric)its oxalic acid wich its found in manny plants ( Oxalis).Im learning if i could use such crops around my acid loving plants and if they can accidify the soil long term.Beware of Oxalic acid cristals if you think to use them because its really dangerous stuff,not like vinegar,much stronger.
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/what-is-sorrel_n_1662188

I'm a winemaker so I've tried all the acids that I can get my hands on. Blueberries get stressed out if not die when I use vinegar or acetic acid, citric acid, tartaric acid and their blends. Vinegar is being used as a herbicide on some plants, so that gave me a clue.

What works well to decrease the water pH down to 4-5 range are Phosphoric acid and sulfuric acid, as these are more natural for the blueberries  as you only need little amounts to add and they don't antagonize many mycorhizzal microbes.  Phosphoric acid are mixed into the drip system of irrigation water by the farmers of Central Valley, California, aside from regularly adding soil sulfur as supplements in the soil. I can get phosphoric acid from my farmer friends. If you don't have access, you can use sulfuric acid. Sources of sulfuric acid are the battery shops or AutoZone or car parts supplier but they're super expensive. The trick is to go to Home Depot or Lowe's or Ace Hardware and look for drain cleaners. Read the ingredients. If it has only sulfuric acid as the active ingredient and no other chemical listed except for water, then that is good to use.  When using such, always add acid to the water a little bit at a time and measure pH each time you add until you get the desired pH. The digital pH meters from Amazon are inexpensive and accurate enough for such purpose.

I seldom have to flush the potting media with acid as I always collect a lot of rainwater and I use that. Rainwater is slightly acidic, from 5.5 to 6.5 and blueberries loved it much more than acidified water.

Never use Muriatic Acid or HCl, instant death for the blueberries!




NateTheGreat

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Re: My Blueberry Growing Tips..
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2019, 12:43:37 PM »
I think blueberries can take full sun. They grown them in full sun in Bakersfield commercially. Mine get full sun in the winter/spring and morning shade in the summer, with full sun in the afternoon. I have them in big patio pots to help with moisture retention and acidity. The medium has lots of peat moss, some sand and chicken manure, and IIRC some of the potting soil that was in from whatever was in here before. A 3" layer of mulch is very helpful in keeping them moist. I have to water them every two days currently, though it was down to every day in the 100F+ heat wave. I think these were in 2 gallon containers when I planted them last spring. I give them about 1 cup of sulfur when they show more than a little red on new growth, or when they have chlorosis of new growth. I think in total I've given them sulfur three times. I just water them with untreated domestic water. We've been picking a lot of berries for the past month, so what you see isn't a full crop. I think the small one (first pic) is Sunshine Blue, which seems like it has some other vaccinium species in it to me. It's got smaller, darker leaves, more like huckleberry, and the berries have a creaminess to them that reminds me of blueberry yogurt. Next is Jubilee, which goes mostly deciduous and is a later season variety. It hasn't borne many fruits for me, but is getting pretty tall. Then the other two are Sharpblue I think (nametags are burried somewhere in the mulch), which are the best producers.











JoeReal

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Re: My Blueberry Growing Tips..
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2019, 02:14:32 PM »
I think blueberries can take full sun. They grown them in full sun in Bakersfield commercially. Mine get full sun in the winter/spring and morning shade in the summer, with full sun in the afternoon. I have them in big patio pots to help with moisture retention and acidity. The medium has lots of peat moss, some sand and chicken manure, and IIRC some of the potting soil that was in from whatever was in here before. A 3" layer of mulch is very helpful in keeping them moist. I have to water them every two days currently, though it was down to every day in the 100F+ heat wave. I think these were in 2 gallon containers when I planted them last spring. I give them about 1 cup of sulfur when they show more than a little red on new growth, or when they have chlorosis of new growth. I think in total I've given them sulfur three times. I just water them with untreated domestic water. We've been picking a lot of berries for the past month, so what you see isn't a full crop. I think the small one (first pic) is Sunshine Blue, which seems like it has some other vaccinium species in it to me. It's got smaller, darker leaves, more like huckleberry, and the berries have a creaminess to them that reminds me of blueberry yogurt. Next is Jubilee, which goes mostly deciduous and is a later season variety. It hasn't borne many fruits for me, but is getting pretty tall. Then the other two are Sharpblue I think (nametags are burried somewhere in the mulch), which are the best producers.


Yes they can TOLERATE full sun but they don't look happy. I've been to the blueberry fields in the Central Valley of California, and have observed their blueberries during the hottest days of summer. My blueberries are far better looking when it is shielded from the sun starting at 2 pm, so they still get 9 hours of sunshine in the summer.

buddy roo

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Re: My Blueberry Growing Tips..
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2019, 12:01:03 PM »
Hi Joe, when is the best time of year to graft blue berry ??

JoeReal

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Re: My Blueberry Growing Tips..
« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2019, 03:25:56 PM »
Hi Joe, when is the best time of year to graft blue berry ??
Late winter to early spring when the buds starts to swell!

brian

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Re: My Blueberry Growing Tips..
« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2019, 09:39:40 AM »
I have blueberries growing in half barrels with holes drilled in the bottom.  They are in part sun.  Originally I had planted them in 100% peat which I had read is a good medium for them.  However they seemed to be drowning, and I would sometimes find the plants floating freely in the peat pool.  After losing most of my plants I switched to half peat half mulch and they are now doing very well.  I add granular sulfur to the pots every couple years.

Of course I never get to eat the blueberries because the birds steal them.  At some point I will try netting them.  I always forget about it until its too late.

 

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