Blueberries on Alkali soil

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adri

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Blueberries on Alkali soil
« on: January 25, 2019, 07:44 »
Hi

I'm going to try again with blueberries.

They will go into large containers using an ericaceous medium.

Last time I tried they didn't do well and I think part of the reason was that I used Ericaceous compost bought in a bag.

If they are to do better I would like to try to get an Ericaceous SOIL rather than the compost.

Is this sold or should I nip off to a local acid soil area and dig a bit up?  I have a friend who may let me.

Any advice welcome.

Adri

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New shoot

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Re: Blueberries on Alkali soil
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2019, 10:32 »
No ericaceous soil isn't sold, it will be a compost that is offered.  Best bet is get some John Innes soil based compost and add ericaceous feed to acidify it.  A slow release one would be best. 

If you feel the John Innes is a bit heavy - its a recipe not a brand, so it does vary - use compost to lighten it up.  I often do this and use MP.  Stuff you buy will be neutral pH, so any will do if you adding the feed.  Top soil is very varied, whereas JI does have a mix of sand and loam so could be a better starting point texture wise.

If you have hard water, try and save water butt water for the blueberry pots as much as you can.  That also helps.  Also having 2 or 3 plants close together helps pollination.

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andreadon

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Re: Blueberries on Alkali soil
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2019, 21:23 »
As long as you keep topping up your ericaceous there's no reason to believe that's why they've failed.
They might fail if the tub is too small or if you let them dry out - they don't like to be soggy but they need consistent watering.

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andreadon

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Re: Blueberries on Alkali soil
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2019, 21:25 »
If you have hard water, try and save water butt water for the blueberry pots as much as you can.  That also helps. 


Very good point. tap water in a hard water area is a bad plan. Rain water where possible

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Missey

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Re: Blueberries on Alkali soil
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2019, 19:07 »
I have two Blueberries (different varities) they are planted in old green recycling boxes filled with ericaceous compost - I'll just give them a good weed and top up in a few weeks - one crops well the other was pretty much half dead when purchased cheap so its taking a bit to recover but hoping for a good crop this year.

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Dev

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Re: Blueberries on Alkali soil
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2019, 19:22 »
I have two blueberries in large pots and top dress them with ericaceous compost each spring. They perform pretty well if I can keep the blackbirds off them, and then the grandkids visit and I find they have been stripped of even the half ripe ones! Ah well, at least they are getting fresh fruit!

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adri

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Re: Blueberries on Alkali soil
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2019, 08:21 »
Thanks for all the answers!

One further question.  I watched a YouTube about planting them in pots and the person went from a 9cm pot straight to a huge planter.

Isn't the normal convention to slowly increase pot size in stages so as to get optimal root development?

Just wondering.

Cheers

Adri

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New shoot

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Re: Blueberries on Alkali soil
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2019, 10:11 »
A 9cm plant would be OK in theory, so long as you were careful with watering.  Sitting in a huge pot of wet soil wouldn't be great.  Maybe an enthusiastic YouTuber who hasn't actually gardened much, who thinks it is a genius shortcut  :unsure:

You would be better bulking the plant up in stages in my view.

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Growster...

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Re: Blueberries on Alkali soil
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2019, 18:38 »
Interesting points here.

We're moving our blueberries to the garden, and I'll dig a decent hole to plonk the potted bushes in, then feed with ericaceous granules. They've been in ericaceous compost for two years or so.

Watering with rainwater is fine, and as discussed some time ago, although tap water is OK, rain is full of nasties, but can get a good plant going when it needs to - it's the way it's happened over the centuries I suppose! And anyway, all soil turns acid over the years, and I've hardly ever limed anywhere else - perhaps I should! (But not the blueberries).

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adri

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Re: Blueberries on Alkali soil
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2019, 21:34 »
Been thinking... a bit too much perhaps...

Our garden is west to south west facing (can't remember how to say a bit to the south of west...)

My daughter loves blueberries hence the purchase.  I've been scratching my head about where to put them and have either a great or rubbish idea depending on its success in the end.  We have a low wall either side of the garden gate which at the moment has nothing growing against it and I think maybe a blueberry hedge? Planting would have to go into a long timber planter lined with thick plastic to keep the moisture in.  Online there's a couple of references to blueberry hedges working ok but what worries me is whether they would get enough sun.  The house blocks direct sun until mid day (ish) (earlier in mid summer)

I'm thinking the planter would be approx 14" deep by 12" wide and as long as the wall either side of the gate.

Last time I tried blueberries they soon bit the dust but this time with the incentive of a daughter picking her own I really want it to work so any suggestions most welcome.

Cheers

Adri

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sunshineband

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Re: Blueberries on Alkali soil
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2019, 09:26 »
A couple of things to add to what has already been said re soil/compost. be aware that eventually the compost in pots/planters does lose its structure and becomes dust-like, and needs complete replacement. Some of our blueberries in pots languished after about four years, despite annual top ups and ericaceous feeding. New compost (not larger pots, they are already in big ones!) perked them up no end

I also grow some in the ground, which had a lot of ericaceous compost dug in to start with. They are planted through holes in membrane, and our soil is not acidic naturally. However, each year they get a thin spread over sulphur chips over the surface of the soil around the root area, as well as a dose of slow release azalea food, and they grow well.

Perhaps think about this for your blueberry hedge rather than a planter? Just a thought. Certainly makes watering more even, an dless frequent in dry spells
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Growster...

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Re: Blueberries on Alkali soil
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2019, 10:32 »
I like the idea of a blueberry hedge, Adri. It would be easier to net and the autumn colour will be outstanding!

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adri

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Re: Blueberries on Alkali soil
« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2019, 16:04 »
Can't think of any container that would look half decent against our cottage garden wall so going to take sunshineband's advice and dig a trench out then line it with visqueen with holes cut out for drainage and then fill the trench with ericaceous compost mixed with john innes number 3.

then every year sulphur chippings to maintain acidity.

would you plant straight from 9cm pot into that or do some potting up to get a bigger plant before putting into the prepared ground?

cheers

Adri

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Yorkie

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Re: Blueberries on Alkali soil
« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2019, 19:31 »
Can't think of any container that would look half decent against our cottage garden wall so going to take sunshineband's advice and dig a trench out then line it with visqueen with holes cut out for drainage and then fill the trench with ericaceous compost mixed with john innes number 3.

then every year sulphur chippings to maintain acidity.

would you plant straight from 9cm pot into that or do some potting up to get a bigger plant before putting into the prepared ground?

cheers

Adri


A 9cm pot is really quite small, so I might consider giving it some TLC in a larger pot before planting out either later in the season or next year.  However, I've not grown blueberries before, and others will doubtless have more experienced views as to whether the plant would 'swim' in a big trough if planted out at that small size.
I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days all attack me at once...

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adri

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Re: Blueberries on Alkali soil
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2019, 19:54 »
Thx Yorkie

now the plan is a bed by the side of the wall raised about 4 inches and about 15 inches wide and filled with ericaceous compost/ john innes no 3 which will be top dressed every season with sulphur chips to maintain acidity.

the one item to sort out is whether to line the trench (dug in another 12-18 inches below ground level) with visqueen to keep the alakali out.  will it keep the alkali out or just waterlog the plants?

would appreciate any views on this.  don't want to water log the plants.

cheers

Adri



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