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Buried birch logs to hold water for blueberries

 
steward
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I had an idea but I'm not sure if it's a good one...

I want to plant a couple dozen medium/high bush blueberries in my field.  It's very well draining sandy loam.  

My idea is to take some dead birch trees, cut them into 8' lengths and cut them in half lengthwise.   They will be too punky to use for firewood anyway.  Then dig down 2' where the blueberries will go and bury the half logs with the bark side down.  Potentially bury two half logs side by side in the trench.  Then refill with the dirt.

My theory is based on the principle that birch bark is very water proof and very rot resistant.  Any rain that soaks in above the birch bark bath tub would get caught by the bark.  The punky wood above would also hold it as a sponge for the roots to work into.

So might this be a reasonable way to turn my well draining sandy soil into something a blueberry could enjoy living in?

An alternate idea would be to dig down and tamp the soil to act as an underground pond and then backfill.  Then I'd just hope that water doesn't drain past the tamped/compacted layer.
 
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Seems like a no brainer.
What's the worst that could happen?
Not sure if wood and sand would be acidic enough for blueberries on their own.
Some would recommend adding pine needles but my understanding is they don't actually acidify the soil.
 
Mike Jay
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I guess the worst would be if it's worse than doing nothing and they die

Good point on the acidity.  My soil is generally a bit acidic in the 6.0 range.  Lower would be better.  I've heard sulfur lowers the ph, I wonder if there are other options that could work well with the birch...
 
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I can't think of the birch logs having a negative impact. They'll hold some water, and play a role in the soil food web housing and feeding fungal and bacterial life. I say go for it!
 
Mike Jay
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Ok, I'll go for it.  If I'm really good I'll plant a few with a compacted layer only and a few without either treatment.  Like a real scientist!

I've heard that blueberries like decaying woody matter so that's another potential benefit.
 
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I always thought the best way would be to dig a trench till you find moist sand, then stand logs in the trench to a foot below the surface and fill.
All the water wicking channels in the log are lengthwise and it should wick the moisture up to the other end of the log.... in theory.
 
Mike Jay
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Yeah Roy, I think that could work too.  In my location it's sand for about 10' before it starts to get a bit moist.  But the I think the idea is valid if water is a bit closer to the surface.  

Here we normally get enough rain.  I just need to keep it from sinking too fast.
 
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I was reading up recently on growing black huckleberries and they prefer ( require ?) buried wood that the roots can grow into. Since they’re closely related to high bush blueberries I would think that your buried birch idea would be really welcomed by them!
 
Roy Hinkley
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10 feet!  I was wondering if my 4 feet was worth the effort.  Good luck to you sir!
 
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Chris Holcombe wrote:I was reading up recently on growing black huckleberries and they prefer ( require ?) buried wood that the roots can grow into. Since they’re closely related to high bush blueberries I would think that your buried birch idea would be really welcomed by them!



All the huckleberries on my property are growing from old rotting tree stumps in well shaded places.
 
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