• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Mike Haasl
stewards:
  • paul wheaton
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Dave Burton
master gardeners:
  • jordan barton
  • Greg Martin
  • Steve Thorn
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Jay Angler
  • Kate Downham

Did I do this right? New to permaculture methods-blueberries

 
Posts: 39
Location: Turin, Italy
4
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have just started reading up on permaculture, and would like to ease into it one small project at a time.  

My first attempt was with blueberries:  We had tried planting blueberries in our garden adding acidic soil, and it died.  I think we had planted it in an area with too much water and not enough sun.  I bought two plants today and a sac of acidic soil.  I planted them ON TOP of our grass, so no digging.  My husband is not convinced by what I did, and I am doubting myself.  Please let me know if I screwed this up, it shouldn't be too late to transplant and repair tomorrow if I did.

I put cardboard box, then I covered it with grass cuttings (we didn't have much organic matter on hand so we cut the grass to generate some).  I had some sawdust and put that on top of the grass, then I put some of the soil (acidic) on top of the grass in two little mounds, put the plants on top of the soil mounds, covered them with more soil (for two plants I used 3/4 of a sack of soil), then I covered with some straw which we had for the chickens, and then some more grass clippings (not too close to the plants) and then I found a bag of leaves and put that on top.  In the leaves was also some ivy, which had some green leaves, I am worried that I just planted ivy where I don't want it...

I put some rocks around this mound, and added some water to the plants.  Did I do this right?  Is that too much grass and not enough other stuff?  

Regardless of the outcome we had fun with our project and are excited to learn more!

Thanks for any expert advice for a total novice,
Meyer

 
gardener
Posts: 3054
Location: Central Texas zone 8a
699
cattle chicken bee sheep
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Blueberries are tuff if the soil is not acidic. My attempts have been in large pots(cattle troughs) with peat moss and using rainwater. Period.

Peat moss and my alkaline well water doesnt work.

My alkaline soil and rain water doesnt work.

Blackberries thrive with my soil and water, so my focus is on them. Blueberries are a novelty here. In the same category as growing citrus here where it freezes. It can be done if you are willing to do what is needed. Neither will thrive without attention and care.

The sad thing. There are hundreds and hundreds of blueberry plants and citrus trees at the chain stores in my area. I shake my head at the total waste of all these plants that will be dead within the year. Yet i try to grow them.....

Something i have thought about, maybe someone smarter than me can give me insite. Acid wants to be neutral? You dump acid on the ground and it fizzes. Once it stops fizzing its no longer an acid? Or its less acidic? If this is partly true, then acidic soil taken out out of its environment will soon start neutralizing. From water added, etc. I just see it as a liftetime need of intervention, so growing the berries that thrives in your area may be the better thing.


 
Meyer Raymond
Posts: 39
Location: Turin, Italy
4
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here are some pictures of my not-so-artful blueberry planting experiment.
IMG_20190413_184632.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20190413_184632.jpg]
IMG_20190413_184558.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20190413_184558.jpg]
IMG_20190413_184648.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20190413_184648.jpg]
 
Meyer Raymond
Posts: 39
Location: Turin, Italy
4
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks for the reply!

We live in an area where there used to be a lot of wild blueberries, so theoretically they should be able to do ok here.  We don't have a pH meter or anything so I have no clue what our soil is like.  We do have a lot of water in our soil, that is for sure.  We rarely have to irrigate in the summer.  I planted the blueberries above a little mountain of wild strawberries that grow exceptionally well.  Raspberries do very well too, as do our black and white currant.  Across the street from our house is a little wooded area full of blackberries, I'm ignorantly hoping that all "frutti di bosco" or "fruits from the woods" can grow in similar  environments.

Does the way I assembled the planting area sound like it could work?  Reading up everyone talks about mulc using that one word but it can mean so many things, I worry that it has to be some complicated and balanced scientific process.

Thanks again,
Meyer

PS I think you are right that I will have to continuously add acidic soil every so often to keep things going, but to be honest I'm willing to do this.  My 5 year old loves blueberries, so much that when he gets to choose a prize for good behavior he chooses blueberries!  



wayne fajkus wrote:Blueberries are tuff if the soil is not acidic. My attempts have been in large pots(cattle troughs) with peat moss and using rainwater. Period.

Peat moss and my alkaline well water doesnt work.

My alkaline soil and rain water doesnt work.

Blackberries thrive with my soil and water, so my focus is on them. Blueberries are a novelty here. In the same category as growing citrus here where it freezes. It can be done if you are willing to do what is needed. Neither will thrive without attention and care.

The sad thing. There are hundreds and hundreds of blueberry plants and citrus trees at the chain stores in my area. I shake my head at the total waste of all these plants that will be dead within the year. Yet i try to grow them.....

Something i have thought about, maybe someone smarter than me can give me insite. Acid wants to be neutral? You dump acid on the ground and it fizzes. Once it stops fizzing its no longer an acid? Or its less acidic? If this is partly true, then acidic soil taken out out of its environment will soon start neutralizing. From water added, etc. I just see it as a liftetime need of intervention, so growing the berries that thrives in your area may be the better thing.


 
pollinator
Posts: 185
Location: South Central PA
46
cat fungi urban
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What you did "might" work, I've had small-scale reasonable luck with container planting of blueberries. I don't have acidic soil either. . . so when I planted them in the yard they weren't happy. I moved them to large planters and used a high peat moss ratio and have had pretty good luck, but they are still young plants. I also put a tomato cage around them and then cover them with mesh laundry bags to keep the squirrels and birds at bay!
 
master gardener
Posts: 1922
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
728
forest garden fish fungi trees foraging earthworks food preservation cooking bee woodworking homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Meyer Raymond wrote:covered them with more soil (for two plants I used 3/4 of a sack of soil), then I covered with some straw which we had for the chickens, and then some more grass clippings (not too close to the plants) and then I found a bag of leaves and put that on top.



I like the way your planting looks!

You may have already looked into this, but I would try to find out if there are any blueberry species closely related to the wild ones in you area. The stores and nurseries in my area have a lot of blueberries for sell that really don't grow best in our area. If you could find those varieties (if they exist), that should help a lot!

I would think you would be fine skipping the first part of how you planted and just starting at where the quote above begins. You could add a little soil directly on the grass and plant right on top of it, and mulch like is in the quote above. My concern (if I'm correctly understanding how you planted it ) would be that the cardboard would block the blueberry roots from reaching the actual soil, and the mulch on top of it under the soil you added may create a dry pocket and the roots may dry out easily.

Looks like you're off to a good start, best wishes, and hope you have some tasty blueberries to harvest soon!
 
Meyer Raymond
Posts: 39
Location: Turin, Italy
4
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Now that you say this I also realized that I was supposed to heavily wet the carboard before proceeding with more layers...
Should I try to somehow fish out the cardboard?  I could re-apply all of the mulch but would probably have to buy another bag of acidic soil.  Should I try and wet the cardboard with a hose stuck in really low?  Or would I drown these blueberries?  Should I just cross my fingers and hope for a miracle of nature?

As far as the more wild varieties go, unfortunately despite the fact that a lot of families have a little veggie garden in my area, the nurseries all tend to sell the same old, run of the mill plants, so I can't even find cool tomato varieties or any varieties that I can't buy at the store.

I had seen this thing with cardboard all over the place online talking about permaculture, are you saying that it isn't necessary?  Thanks for the feedback!  
Meyer

My concern (if I'm correctly understanding how you planted it ) would be that the cardboard would block the blueberry roots from reaching the actual soil, and the mulch on top of it under the soil you added may create a dry pocket and the roots may dry out easily.

Looks like you're off to a good start, best wishes, and hope you have some tasty blueberries to harvest soon!
 
Steve Thorn
master gardener
Posts: 1922
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
728
forest garden fish fungi trees foraging earthworks food preservation cooking bee woodworking homestead
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Meyer Raymond wrote:As far as the more wild varieties go, unfortunately despite the fact that a lot of families have a little veggie garden in my area, the nurseries all tend to sell the same old, run of the mill plants, so I can't even find cool tomato varieties or any varieties that I can't buy at the store.



That's a bummer. I had the same issues too, it's so hard to find good plants! I finally found some awesome plants online, that I had to mail order. Maybe there could be somewhere in Italy or another place in Europe that sells the plants (I'm not sure how the plant shipping regulations are over there though).

I had seen this thing with cardboard all over the place online talking about permaculture, are you saying that it isn't necessary?



I've never had to use it. Especially if you mulch it like you mentioned above. You may have a few weeds come through, but they should be easy to remove.

This thread has some good information on some possible downsides of using cardboard. https://permies.com/t/2157/concerns-cardboard-newspaper-mulch

Should I try to somehow fish out the cardboard?  I could re-apply all of the mulch but would probably have to buy another bag of acidic soil.  Should I try and wet the cardboard with a hose stuck in really low?  Or would I drown these blueberries?  Should I just cross my fingers and hope for a miracle of nature?



If you've researched it, and feel good about it, I'd go with what you have!

I honestly haven't researched using cardboard a lot, since I haven't had to use it, so it may work just fine. My personal approach to permaculture, is to try to use as many natural and free things as possible, but there are many other techniques out that there that may work just as good or better than my approach!

If you decide to remove the cardboard, I think you could do it without having to buy anything extra. I would remove the mulch, and wouldn't worry about it mixing if it does. Then the soil could be carefully removed and put on something on the ground (like cardboard, if you have any left over ). Then the cardboard could be removed, and you could replant the blueberries without it.

Best of luck!

 
Posts: 7604
Location: Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep clay/loam with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
1444
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Is there someone growing them commercially there?  
We get our plants from a local blueberry farm, all known varieties for this area, where besides selling the berries he makes cuttings and sells gallon sized one and two year old plants.
He has just sold his farm this year so was trying to sell out all of the plants also.  They were four dollars each (normally six dollars) so I bought twenty and have been planting like crazy and giving some to our sons. We already had seven in the ground, so I think we'll end up with twenty total...can't have too many

Our farmer says to dig a hole three times the size of the root ball and mix peat moss half and half with the soil....and don't let them dry out.
The only fertilizer he says they need is nitrogen...that over fertilizing is a mistake many folks make....worm castings or watered down urine is good, a little compost.
We mulch with pine needles if we can find them, otherwise pine sawdust from our son's band saw mill.

I only water with rain water as I found the same as Wayne mentions, our municipal water is too alkaline.



 
Posts: 105
6
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've been there, done that with the cardboard thing and I can tell you that roots will definitely NOT grow through it the first year. For annuals this was completely detrimental. For blueberries I'm not sure, if you provided enough fertility on top of it they might do OK the first year and then be able to grow through it the second. Then again it might completely stunt their growth, cause them to fail to pereniallize and set you back to square one the second year.

I would strongly consider removing it. I've had good luck making raised beds just by letting the grass grow a couple feet tall, cutting it as low as possible with a sickle, laying it flat on the ground and building the raised bed on top of that. As long as the raised bed is about a foot high or more and you plant into it immediately, no grass should get through, no cardboard needed.

I like your stone raised beds by the way! Very rustic.
 
Meyer Raymond
Posts: 39
Location: Turin, Italy
4
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ok, I am going to attemptt to remove it, I have already started dreaming about these two flourishing blueberry plants, and how I will expand them into a hedge all along the top terrace where I put them, so I don't need stupid cardboard bursting my bubble!  I will try after work, I wanted to yesterday afternoon but it was pouring so I decided to wait.  

I planted some borage (google translated, I've never heard of borage in English, we call it borragine in Italian), some butternut, arctic basil, lemon thyme and chamomile on top of the grass.  I didn't have any more grass clippings, so I basically put the plant on top of the grass, covered with potting soil and put some dried leaves from my neighbor on top.  Is that right?  Should I add some straw?  I can add grass clippings next time we cut.  I am worried that if the wind picks up I am going to lose everything though.  We get some pretty crazy winds, so maybe I should put these in the ground?

As far as local producers of blueberries, that is a great idea, I will ask at the market next week!
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 7604
Location: Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep clay/loam with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
1444
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Maybe since you're deconstructing the pile to remove cardboard anyway, a compromise of digging down just a little and a mound would be better?  

How wet does your ground stay? standing water wouldn't be good for the blueberries but well drained and moist all of the time is what ours like.

We grow high bush blueberries though so maybe I'm talking about the wrong variety of blueberry?

I'm curious just what 'acid soil' is? maybe a lot of peat moss?


Edit to add...Meyer, in response to the title of this thread.... there is no 'right' way in permaculture

One of the responses you will hear a lot here is 'it depends'.

Sometimes it takes trying things one way and then another in order to find what works for one's particular climate and soil, etc.
 
L. Tims
Posts: 105
6
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Don't worry, if grass does start to come through you can just snip it off with some scissors and mulch with it and it will die from lack of photosynthesis eventually.
 
Meyer Raymond
Posts: 39
Location: Turin, Italy
4
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I fished down and took out what i think is about 75-80% of the cardboard, taking care to get what was directly beneath the plants.  I was able to do so without disrupting the plants.

In the middle of the heap it was hot, i have read very superficially about hot compost and think i have accidentally created hot compost with two blueberry plants in it.  Are they going to die or suffocate? Is this a good thing?

I am definitely experimenting and am very happy to have found this forum for help and guidance!

I didn't dig down and put them in the ground, partly because i didn't want to undo and redo the whole thing and then because i felt the heat and wanted to figure that out first.

Our soil stays consistently moist, isn't too wet so i think that could be a next step (putting them in the ground) especially if someone tells me that hot compost on top of my plants is bad.

Acid soil is a literal translation, it is soil for plants that need a more acidic pH like rhododendron or blueberries.  It is potting soil that i bought and don't know much about its composition, it is kind of reddish in color if that helps.  I can look at the bag more closely tomorrow.
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 7604
Location: Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep clay/loam with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
1444
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

In the middle of the heap it was hot,  



I suspect that the green grass clippings are heating things up...if it were me, I would deconstruct and dig a hole, mix the acid potting soil with your soil, plant the bushes individually separated by a couple feet, water well and then mulch lightly with grass clippings if I had them, more heavily with some pine sawdust maybe crushed leaves...a nice thick mulch of some sort.

I'm known for rearranging plants like some folks rearrange their furniture though...not always so practical so see what others here suggest...

I just came in from mowing with the bagger...all of the clippings go around plants and fruit trees no more than an inch or two thick as mulch on the surface of the soil....some I mix in the compost to add some nitrogen to heat it up but I never mix them in the soil where plants are growing.
 
master steward
Posts: 13922
Location: Pacific Northwest
6311
hugelkultur kids cat duck forest garden foraging fiber arts sheep wood heat homestead
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
One thing that might help, if you have access, is to find wild blueberries and dig up a little bit of the soil around them and put it next to your blueberries. Blueberries are pretty sensitive to the microorganisms in the soil. When I tried to plant wild huckleberries (same family of plants as blueberries), they did NOT do well. I went up my hill to where a different variety of huckleberries live, and dug up some of that soil and put it by my struggling huckleberries, and they perked right up!

If you do transplant some soil, try to keep the bit you transplant relatively undisturbed--don't crumble it up, but keep it in as much of one piece as you can, and just sort of "plant" it next to your blueberries.
 
Meyer Raymond
Posts: 39
Location: Turin, Italy
4
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Blueberryy emergency! Red leaf, i haven't dug it up yet and re-planted, is this a result of the heat from the grass clippings?

Please check out the picture and share your wisdom!
IMG_20190416_184541.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20190416_184541.jpg]
 
L. Tims
Posts: 105
6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
To me it looks like the red leaf is some blueberry pigment leaking into the leaves. I had this happen when I grew glass gem corn one year, I think it results from inadequate fruit set and the pigment needing somewhere else to go.
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 7604
Location: Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep clay/loam with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
1444
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Meyer Raymond wrote:Blueberryy emergency! Red leaf, i haven't dug it up yet and re-planted, is this a result of the heat from the grass clippings?

Please check out the picture and share your wisdom!



I don't know  
Maybe a few questions will help us figure it out though...
Were the plants bare rooted or in containers with soil when you bought them?
Were the roots circling the pot, looking root bound?
Has it been cool there since they were planted?
When you feel into the mound is the soil still hot? Is it damp or dried out?

My newly planted blueberries have a reddish cast to their leaves because we have had some cold weather since they leafed out but does not look like the leaf in your photo.

I see blooms on the bush...hard as it is to do we were told to pick them off the first year.  I did not do it and my son did...big difference in growth so this time I am removing all of the flowers.  Yours looks like an older bush though? Did it come with planting instructions?



 
Nicole Alderman
master steward
Posts: 13922
Location: Pacific Northwest
6311
hugelkultur kids cat duck forest garden foraging fiber arts sheep wood heat homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Too much nitrogen? Did you add any fertilizer? Blueberries don't like much nitrogen, and I once almost-killed my wild huckleberries by putting poultry bedding on them. I think mine turned red like that with too much nitrogen, but it's been years. Blueberries can handle more nitrogen than the wild blueberries/huckleberries, but maybe there's just too much? Maybe add some more wood chips to absorb the nitrogen?
 
Meyer Raymond
Posts: 39
Location: Turin, Italy
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Judith Browning wrote:

Meyer Raymond wrote:Blueberryy emergency! Red leaf, i haven't dug it up yet and re-planted, is this a result of the heat from the grass clippings?

Please check out the picture and share your wisdom!



I don't know  
Maybe a few questions will help us figure it out though...
Were the plants bare rooted or in containers with soil when you bought them?
Were the roots circling the pot, looking root bound?
Has it been cool there since they were planted?
When you feel into the mound is the soil still hot? Is it damp or dried out?

My newly planted blueberries have a reddish cast to their leaves because we have had some cold weather since they leafed out but does not look like the leaf in your photo.

I see blooms on the bush...hard as it is to do we were told to pick them off the first year.  I did not do it and my son did...big difference in growth so this time I am removing all of the flowers.  Yours looks like an older bush though? Did it come with planting instructions?





The plants were in containers and the roots were in circles in the pot, i didn't loosen them as i usually would when planting.  I didn't put any fertilizer but there was probably some traces of chicken poop in the straw (but i put a tiny amount of straw) and there are a lot of grass clippings, i don't know how quickly that nitrogen becomes available.
I stuck my hand in yesterday and it was warm but not as hot as the previous day, it is moist but doesn't feel wet.
The guy at the nursery didnt give any instructions but did pick these plants for me saying they would be ready to eat this season. I didn't think to ask how old they are...
The weather hasn't been cold, it has been in the 18-24 celsius during the day, maybe one day it dropped down to 10,but not cold, could that one cold front have affected the plants? Nights are definitely above zero, probably low os 6 celsius. If the grass is warm though wouldn't that combat the cold, like a blanket?
 
Meyer Raymond
Posts: 39
Location: Turin, Italy
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

L. Tims wrote:To me it looks like the red leaf is some blueberry pigment leaking into the leaves. I had this happen when I grew glass gem corn one year, I think it results from inadequate fruit set and the pigment needing somewhere else to go.



I like this answer the best as it would give the most positive outlook, but i see the fruit starting to turn ble, and it looks like there is a lot of fruit.

Should i just put them in pots? Should i dig a hole and put them in soil topped with acidic soil and wood chips?

There's no wrong way to do permaculture, but killing the plants seems like it isn't the right way either ­čśť
 
Nicole Alderman
master steward
Posts: 13922
Location: Pacific Northwest
6311
hugelkultur kids cat duck forest garden foraging fiber arts sheep wood heat homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Transplanting would probably stress them out more, I'm thinking. I'd probably just add some woodchips on top and wait. That's what I did with my huckleberries, and they pulled through.

Hopefully someone with some more experience with blueberries and their ailments and the causes of those ailments, will chime in.
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 7604
Location: Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep clay/loam with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
1444
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

The plants were in containers and the roots were in circles in the pot, i didn't loosen them as i usually would when planting.  



This stands out for me as something important....not that it would have caused the red leaves, but could cause problems later on if the roots continue to circle as they sometimes do when root bound.

Since the plants are already bearing, maybe for now leave everything as is until after they are done fruiting?

There are some slightly different planting guidelines for high bush, low bush or rabbit eye blueberries so it would be helpful to know the variety that you have?

I just finished planting the last of my high bush blueberries yesterday...all have a reddish cast from a couple cold nights a week or so ago.  The ones we planted two years ago are covered in bloom...can't wait for fruit

 
Judith Browning
Posts: 7604
Location: Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep clay/loam with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
1444
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

planted some borage (google translated, I've never heard of borage in English, we call it borragine in Italian), some butternut, arctic basil, lemon thyme and chamomile on top of the grass.  I didn't have any more grass clippings, so I basically put the plant on top of the grass, covered with potting soil and put some dried leaves from my neighbor on top.  Is that right?  Should I add some straw?  I can add grass clippings next time we cut.  I am worried that if the wind picks up I am going to lose everything though.  We get some pretty crazy winds, so maybe I should put these in the ground?



These were all potted plants?  I think that, depending on how lush your grass clippings were and how thick a layer of them, they might heat up and the plants would be happier in the ground.

I do mulch out areas for future plantings with grass clippings, leaves and bark but have not tried to plant anything immediately as it takes awhile for the grass to decompose...several months at least.

Every year I swear that I will have fewer things in pots and every year I actually have more because I start so many things from seed, herbs and flowers esp. that I fill up the space in the ground as quickly as it's ready.  

For this year, maybe you could pot the blueberries in some nice sized pots with the 'acidic' potting soil and give yourself some time to prepare their final home?

That way you could release their roots properly and know that the other additives aren't hurting them.


 
Posts: 29
Location: Raleigh, NC (7b)
hugelkultur forest garden urban
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Blueberry leaves turn red when they die. Always loosen the roots of transplants. Grass clippings in contact with the blueberry roots could deprive the plant of nitrogen.  I personally would dig it up and dig a hole twice the diameter of the root ball to plant in. Plants like soil. If you need to add acidity, mulch with citrus peels.
 
pollinator
Posts: 135
Location: Zone 7a, AZ
18
home care forest garden chicken food preservation medical herbs ungarbage
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Blue berries need friends.  Plant at least 3 or more near each other.  Dig their holes in an irregular shape, especially if they are root-bound in the pot.  The roots will not spread out well in a round hole.  Add a splash of vinegar to water to use around the hole - just a little.  Basil, thyme, and pine are good companions.  Mulch with lots of pine needles (a good way to acidify the soil).  Tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins are not good companions.  Don't plant them close to blueberries.  Blueberries need bees.  Plant flowers near them that attract bees.

Bonnie
 
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In Northwest Florida blueberries thrive, but the trick I learned about planting and maintaining my plants/bushes was that upon planting use pine bark mulch in the existing soil, which helps feed the young plant and I use pine straw to mulch around them also. I have two that are 10 years old (of my original 5) and have replanted 5 others over the past three years. All using the same method using pine bark mulch in the existing soil. They like our sandy souls and I have fertilized them once they bare fruit, after the harvest, usually in late June. Good Luck.
 
pollinator
Posts: 452
Location: zone 4b, sandy, Continental D
121
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Blueberries like it wet and acid. Not so wet that they sit in water [that will kill them], but the soil should always be damp. And when I say "acid", I mean that a PH of 5 does not scare them. Aluminum sulfate needs to be applied if your soil is not there. What you did well: You planted your blueberries at the bottom of the slope, so more water will be naturally available, and you mulched heavily. If you *really* want blueberries, you will have to work hard at it, since your soil does not seem to favor them ... Or you might decide that a fruit that is better suited to your clime/ soil tastes just as good. It could be that the sun exposure is too much? [They like it cool and they will fruit in some shade]
Have you tried Juneberries [Amelanchier Canadensis] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amelanchier_canadensis
or perhaps Haskaps?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lonicera_caerulea
My mom once told me that I was stubborn. I told her that it is all in the results: if someone hits their head against the wall 99 times and on the hundredth time, the wall cracks, they showed perseverance. If not, they were stubborn. Same thing with planting: Sometimes we try real hard to do something... Maybe it was not meant to be. Do any of your neighbors have luck with blueberries?
 
pollinator
Posts: 255
Location: The Arkansas Ozarks
42
cat dog forest garden rabbit building solar rocket stoves woodworking wood heat homestead
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Judith Browning wrote:Is there someone growing them commercially there?  
We get our plants from a local blueberry farm, all known varieties for this area, where besides selling the berries he makes cuttings and sells gallon sized one and two year old plants.
He has just sold his farm this year so was trying to sell out all of the plants also.  They were four dollars each (normally six dollars) so I bought twenty and have been planting like crazy and giving some to our sons. We already had seven in the ground, so I think we'll end up with twenty total...can't have too many



Hi Judith,

Would you mind passing in the name and location of the farm, if he hasn't sold all of his stock yet.  We are local and would like to buy some also.  Thanks.

Sincerely,

Ralph
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 7604
Location: Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep clay/loam with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
1444
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Ralph Kettell wrote:

Judith Browning wrote:Is there someone growing them commercially there?  
We get our plants from a local blueberry farm, all known varieties for this area, where besides selling the berries he makes cuttings and sells gallon sized one and two year old plants.
He has just sold his farm this year so was trying to sell out all of the plants also.  They were four dollars each (normally six dollars) so I bought twenty and have been planting like crazy and giving some to our sons. We already had seven in the ground, so I think we'll end up with twenty total...can't have too many



Hi Judith,

Would you mind passing in the name and location of the farm, if he hasn't sold all of his stock yet.  We are local and would like to buy some also.  Thanks.

Sincerely,

Ralph



I would be happy to...I just sent you a PM with contact information.  His ad was still in a recent newspaper so maybe he's not sold out yet.
 
Ralph Kettell
pollinator
Posts: 255
Location: The Arkansas Ozarks
42
cat dog forest garden rabbit building solar rocket stoves woodworking wood heat homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks Judith.  I got it.
 
gardener
Posts: 1288
Location: Okanogan Highlands, Washington
299
hugelkultur cat dog books food preservation
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Leaves turning red happens in fall, and sometimes spring, from cold weather conditions.
But the leaf you showed looks like it is more of a sudden dryness kind of thing.

I am concerned that the heat you noticed may be killing roots, which can deprive the plant of water (even if you water it, burnt roots can't take up the water into the plant.)  
I have killed many blueberries in unsuitable conditions (alkaline soils/water), and from my longest-lasting experimental failures, I would say that cold mulch (bark chips, rotten wood, soil from nearby forests with related plants) and rainwater helps a lot more than anything else.

I think the grass clippings between the roots and the cool soil could be a problem, especially if it's heating up.  The grass you are trying to kill under the cardboard could also contribute nitrogen and sugars, causing heat of decomposition.  

The heat and root-bound issues could mean you have already lost some roots, and the plants are experiencing transplant shock.  The leaves near the crispy one look OK, but smaller and a different color - so the plant may also be trying to adapt to rapid changes in light levels and/or water from where it was raised, to where it was sold to you, to your garden.
If you notice additional leaves turning crispy at the edges, or wilting, you may not have enough roots to support the branches. You might need to consider trimming off some fruiting branches, or at least pinching off fruit, to help the plant survive this experience.  
If the branches look very healthy (leaves full and perky, no more than a few odd-sized crispy leaves), you can disregard this suggestion.

If your soil is consistently rain-washed, it may already be acidic, which would be a great advantage.  Or if it's got a lot of of decaying limestone, it could be alkaline despite the rain.  Do you know your local soil pH?

When I was growing up in an area that does favor blueberries, grass clippings on TOP of the mulch circles around each bush worked great.  Helped suppress weeds, trap moisture, slow-release some nutrients.  
The plants did not need fertilizer beyond the occasional batch of clippings; however we did have a constant struggle to remove grass and thistles from around the planting area.  I would be tempted to dig out a layer of the turf before planting, and put some edging around it, to reduce this problem.  Blueberries have shallow roots, and so does grass.  I do not have much expectation for grass 'dying eventually,' it is one of the plants most tolerant of cutting and abuse.  In my experience, grass sticks rhizomes into your mulch and keeps trying to grow right up into your berry plants.

Blueberries are adapted to nitrogen-poor soils, and to a specific type of symbiotic fungus (Ericoid fungi) that helps them extract nutrients from acidic soils and woody duff (rotting mulch and cool decaying plant matter). I think the addition of soil from a local blueberry patch is a good idea, and may give you other ideas for how to make your home conditions more like the best local conditions for this type of plants.  While collecting soil, notice whether the wild berries grow in shade or sun, at top or bottom of slopes, what plants are nearby, etc.


Here is an article I found about other reasons for red leaves - but I don't think this is your main problem in this case.
https://homeguides.sfgate.com/leaves-blueberry-plant-turning-red-splitting-spring-88843.html

Yours,
Erica W
 
Posts: 66
Location: Missoula
2
fungi trees
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The red color is nothing to worry about.  It is a natural response that many plants have to high light/hot or cold temperatures, caused by anthocyanins which give the color.

Plants produce the pigment anthocyanin for a variety of reasons, but in particular with blueberries they produce it to protect leaves against high light/low temperature conditions, which can cause photorespiration, damaging the photosynthetic apparatus.  

No "spilling over" of pigments from the seed - the color has a specific physiological purpose, of course.
 
Erica Wisner
gardener
Posts: 1288
Location: Okanogan Highlands, Washington
299
hugelkultur cat dog books food preservation
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Chris MacCarlson wrote:The red color is nothing to worry about.  It is a natural response that many plants have to high light/hot or cold temperatures, caused by anthocyanins which give the color.

Plants produce the pigment anthocyanin for a variety of reasons, but in particular with blueberries they produce it to protect leaves against high light/low temperature conditions, which can cause photorespiration, damaging the photosynthetic apparatus.  

No "spilling over" of pigments from the seed - the color has a specific physiological purpose, of course.



I would agree about the purplish-red tinge in the healthy leaves.  Blueberry leaves can turn amazing shades of red and purple as the seasons change, one of the better fall color displays.

It's the dried and curled-up, reddish brown leaf that I am noticing.  One or two dry/dead leaf tips could just be a minor injury, possibly due to a bruise, bump, or transplant stress.  
If you get a lot more of those, however, the plant is struggling with something, possibly water supply.  The years I was not able to water my bushes consistently with good water, that was how most of their leaves looked, not good.

 
pollinator
Posts: 116
Location: Western MA, zone 6b
30
dog forest garden urban
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

When I am starting with a bush or tree in a new area that has grass I remove the sod/grass just enough for planting,  disturbing as little as possible below that, and make a hole just big enough for the roots.   Then I build a layered mulched bed around it.   Sidedress the planting hole with compost,  wet cardboard barrier all around,  then layer on leaves, wood chips, etc.   I mulch my blueberries with pine straw to help with the acidity but I really don't worry about it all that much.    Blueberries like my W. MA area though, I think we naturally tend toward acidic.    I bought one small bush of several varieties.   When I know which do best I will add a few more.

I go right OVER the grass like your description when I'm making a new planting area for perennials or annuals, or a large area that I won't be planting much in until the following year when the grass has died and the cardboard softened/ deteriorated.
026.JPG
[Thumbnail for 026.JPG]
new blueberry area on new property
 
C├ęcile Stelzer Johnson
pollinator
Posts: 452
Location: zone 4b, sandy, Continental D
121
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Erica Wisner wrote:

Chris MacCarlson wrote:
It's the dried and curled-up, reddish brown leaf that I am noticing.  One or two dry/dead leaf tips could just be a minor injury, possibly due to a bruise, bump, or transplant stress.  
If you get a lot more of those, however, the plant is struggling with something, possibly water supply.  The years I was not able to water my bushes consistently with good water, that was how most of their leaves looked, not good.



Indeed, Chris. Because I love blueberries but I'm afflicted with 35 ft. of sand and a PH of 6.5, I knew it would be a struggle.
We have a large roof looking East, with a bigger gutter and rain spout to handle that. I dug a trench, 4'X 4'X 33' and lined it with 2 blue plastic tarps. I made sure not to *seal* that trench at the ends. I placed a 10" PVC, solid pipe from the spout to the trench, so I won't have water near the foundations either. I also placed 2 plastic barrels, one at each end, with a pipe, perforated, joining the PVC pipe and the 2 barrels [closed on top] so that, in sand, that water would go the length of the trench.
Then I filled the trench with the best soil I could get [imported, I didn't have chickens at the time]. The first couple of years, they struggled until I discovered aluminum sulfate. Once I applied the right amount to bring down the PH, they were fine. I have 5 blueberry plants and by layering, I plan to make a hedge. They look gorgeous in the Fall. The first frost gives them orange, red, purple hues that just delights the eyes! I have to adjust the PH every couple of years by placing a cup of aluminum sulfate to each plant.
At the end of the trench: Bonus! I got a volunteer Invicta[ I think] gooseberry.. I don't like the thorns but hey, free fruit is free fruit, right!?

 
pollinator
Posts: 108
Location: Central Virginia
26
bike medical herbs wood heat
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm no blueberry expert, but these facts may be useful in addressing soil alkalinity.

I was farming for a long time in the West in sandy alkaline soil, which wasn't too bad for most vegetables but still need to be acidified.

1. Compost is a buffer. If you didn't take Chem 1,  buffers cause any material to move toward neutrality, away from acidic or alkaline extremes.

2. conifer forest litter is acidic.

I would suggest preparing the bed a year before planting blueberries. Dig out the trench or bed, and then replace or mix the original soil with compost and a lot of pine (or other conifer) leaves. Let that mix "cook" for a year, and you should have a bed acidic enough at to allow the blueberries to survive if not flourish.

With alkaline soil, if you use pine (or other conifer) mulch, that breaks down and eventually is part of the soil, and can help to keep the high pH numbers at bay.

We've got a blueberry bush thriving now, but this is Virginia with acidic red clay soil...
gift
 
Common Weeds And Wild Edibles Of The World (HD video)
will be released to subscribers in: soon!
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic