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Our blueberries ... 6 bushes bought about 2 decades ago. Between them produced about enough blueberries for a bowl of corn flakes the first year. Since then, nothing. They're still alive but have barely grown. The local wild blueberries and huckleberries are not very productive but at least provide a few.

This year my wife will check soil pH and acidify them if needed, and just bought 4 new bushes. Hopefully the bees (nukes due mid-month) will perk up productivity of both the domestic and wild berries.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
pH is really important. Ours was too low and it greatly affected the plant growth. Hope your plants do well this season :)
 

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pH is really important. Ours was too low and it greatly affected the plant growth. Hope your plants do well this season :)
How did you raise the soil pH?
 

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I see some dead leaves on the ground. Are they covered with snows during the winter time?
Over here I always trim down the smaller side branches in the Fall to have healthy stronger branches
in the Spring time. This bush bloom from Fall til Spring to set fruits and never seems to goto sleep
in the winter time. The leaves will turn a reddish green color but will never fall off the tree. Come
Spring there will be many berries on the side branches. The flowers are an early nectar source for
my bees too. I don't know its name since bought it from an elder lady last summer. The sawdust or
wood chips mulch around the plant will make the soil more acidic for general health and berries too.
I like organic, always.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Beepro, you have a southern highbush or rabbitye plant. Ours is a northern highbush and they function similar to deciduous trees because they drop their leaves in fall/winter and then start again in April/. We don't have much snow here so the plant is rarely covered in snow. I believe your berries bloom early on whereas the earliest northern highbush here starts in June/July.
 

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Blueberries are one of my favorite fruits, so I'm jealous of all of you who can grow them. Down here, our soil is so alkaline that we can't grow blueberries without special treatment to acidify the soil regularly (I think our soil is about an 8 on the pH scale). Plus, from what I understand, they are NOT drought tolerant in any way, don't like going dry AT ALL. Both of those things makes growing them down here a challenge.

But I'm up for it. I work at an independently owned organic garden center and we get in some weird things every so often. Last month it was blueberries; don't remember the cultivars, but they're rabbiteyes I'm sure. I bought five to put in an old, rusted-out horse trough where I can keep them acidified, watered, and fed more easily. Wish me luck!
 

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Phobee: I have about 600 rabbiteyes and they like 3 things -

- Soil that has a pH between 4.8 and 5.2, but they will tolerate it if it's under 6. If the pH is too high or low, they get iron poor blood and their leaves start to turn yellow with green veins. Use sulfer to lower the pH and use lime to raise the pH.

- Water, but they don't like wet feet as their roots are very fine and will drown as roots need both water to move the nutrients and air to breath.

- Plenty of sunshine. The more the better.

Also, NEVER feed them nitrogen derived from any nitrate source. The nitrate (salt) will burn the roots. Any chemically derived nitrogen should come from either urea or an ammonium sulfate-based product.

But, my first suggestion would be for you to get a sample of your soil tested. The soil test should give you recommendations for what is lacking with regards to blueberry production so make sure you tell them in your request that you are growing blueberries.

Hope this helps.
 

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Barber,

I'll forward that info to my wife, a newly-hatched master gardener. She's done soil collection and had it analyzed for a local lawns program but has never done it up at our mountain place. This year she's going to turn her attention to the blueberries. I'd love to see the results ... even the native lowbush varieties, which the woods are full of, don't thrive, but I'd bet they could with a little TLC.
 

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We just cleaned out our freezer. I think I had a 5 gallon bucket of blueberries for the compost pile. Some things we learned through the years are to wash the berries before storing them (because they are great frozen) freeze them on a cookie sheet, tilted and then pour them into a plastic freezer bag without the ice that forms on the lower end of the tray. I keep sawdust mulch on our 25 or so plants. I need to go dig them out as the kids dumped the dust collectors from the wheel barrow on the plants about 8-10” thick at the base.
 

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I think the rusted-out horse trough is too much for them under the hot summer sun. Their roots like to be in a cool place while the
branches like to be in a hot place. So give them plenty of water during the hot summer months. And mulch with sawdust and rotted
horse manure for organic fertilizer and to build up the soil. Even with a drip bottle the roots will be o.k. Dig a big 3' hole and put in lots of organic
matters and plant your bush on top. Try it out to see I'll bet you can grow some nice berries this way.
I grow mine inside a big medium size plastic pot with lots of organic matters--egg shells, mushroom compost, cut grass, aged manure, playground
barks, and sawdust. Anything organic and acidic as I can find them to put in.
 

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Pruning blueberries is important. The yield on older stems diminishes over time. And the comments on PH and soil analysis are right on.

Pay attention to pollination too. I was told Wednesday night that even though the plants are in flower nearly a month (we have "wild" low bush), conditions locally are such that there are only 8 days or so of decent flying conditions for honey bees, on average, during blueberry bloom.
 

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I think the rusted-out horse trough is too much for them under the hot summer sun. Their roots like to be in a cool place while the
branches like to be in a hot place. So give them plenty of water during the hot summer months.
Good to know about their roots in cool and branches in hot. I plan to put the trough near the veggie garden and orchard, so it'll be on the east side of some pecan trees that throw shade on everything by 3pm. I moved the garden over there a few years back to take advantage of that evening shade for everything. If they don't do well, I'll be sure to consider the sun on the trough - might take the soil temp every so often just for grins, too.

And mulch with sawdust and rotted
horse manure for organic fertilizer and to build up the soil. Even with a drip bottle the roots will be o.k. Dig a big 3' hole and put in lots of organic
matters and plant your bush on top. Try it out to see I'll bet you can grow some nice berries this way.
I grow mine inside a big medium size plastic pot with lots of organic matters--egg shells, mushroom compost, cut grass, aged manure, playground
barks, and sawdust. Anything organic and acidic as I can find them to put in.
Yeah, I have a recipe for a soil mix that is made of things like peat moss, pine bark, manure compost, and acidified cotton burr compost. We have a few horticulturists on staff and they all researched the info to write up a handout for how to grow them and it has that recipe. (I'm lucky in the organic nursery I work for is owned by a man who is a stickler for educating the customers with correct info, so he pays people with degrees to find the right info and people like me to stand at a desk all day and teach people how to garden organically using that info and our own personal gardening experiences. I love my job.)

I was thinking about using an olla or two in the trough (for those who don't know, an olla is a clay jug you bury in the soil and fill with water, then it weeps that water slowly). Due to your suggestion, I'll make that a definite instead of a maybe.

Thanks for the info, Beepro!
 

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A big clay pot or plastic pot will minimize the sun's heat during the noon time. If you really want to use
the metal trough then put a few pieces of card boards or plywood to deflect the hot afternoon sun. The
roots will be baked if it is too hot inside the trough. Shading the trough might work at the same time exposing
the branches to the full sun. A layer of wood barks will work on top to keep the soil cool.
 

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We have 5 highbush blueberry planted probably 6-7 years ago. Patriot and Blueray mix.
The bumblebees pollinate them quite well and are averaging a total of about 25-30
qts per year for the last couple years. A years supply for us.
Great investment !!
 

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A big clay pot or plastic pot will minimize the sun's heat during the noon time. If you really want to use
the metal trough then put a few pieces of card boards or plywood to deflect the hot afternoon sun. The
roots will be baked if it is too hot inside the trough. Shading the trough might work at the same time exposing
the branches to the full sun.
I'm not too worried yet since the whole thing will be in shade come 3pm and the silver metal should deflect a lot of the heat, but I do have a backup plan of painting the trough white, and if that still doesn't work wrapping it in bamboo fencing to shade it. And if that still doesn't do it, I'll just dig a hole with the backhoe and bury the trough. Our soil is about an 8 on the pH scale, so I don't want to put them in the ground without some sort of liner, though I am contemplating something like that with one of my five plants just to see how often I really have to re-acidify the soil.

A layer of wood barks will work on top to keep the soil cool.
Yep. I plan on using pine straw mulch (pine needles) so it's fluffy and won't ever pack enough to block any water going through. It gets so hot down here that if you don't watch it, the ground dries out so hard that even the mulch can form a packed layer that water will run off of. Drip irrigation, fluffy mulch, and watching your soil moisture level closely help avoid that. The trough will be close to the veggie garden so I can stick my fingers in it often and keep it well-watered.

Thanks again for the tips!
 
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