The Blues

I’ve got the poor soil blueberry blues!  Well, i think it’s two problems: 1: soil acidity and 2: too much root competition.

The 4 blueberry bushes that i planted last year have not done a single thing!  literally, they just sat there for the past year, none of them put on a single sprout of new growth.  So much for creating a natural fence, let alone producing fruit.  I borrowed a pH tester for the soil, and found that, despite my efforts of amending the soil with pine needles and sulfur fertilizer (which takes a year to be effective), the pH was still 7.0.  Blueberries prefer 4.5-5.  Oops.

You can see the plant in the foreground, and what i ended up doing in the background.  HUGE pots!  The great thing about blueberries is their shallow root system  which makes them perfect candidates for container growing.  That, and their need for special soil conditions, pots should help cure my blues.

Because i have a small yard, i’m planting things a bit close.  When i dug up the first bush, i saw some serious root encroachment from the nearby apple trees, and the blueberries were certainly loosing that battle.  The container should provide a physical barrier against that.

I found some 12 and 15 gallon containers and started digging to sink them into the ground.  this will prevent the roots from overheating and drying out as a container can really heat up if exposed to direct sunlight.  it will also be easier to get around the garden and look better to boot.

For the soil mix, i did some googling, and decided on using 50% peat and 50% compost.  I had some left over peat from putting in my bog garden (more on that later), and good old Ziggy the Bunny has been cranking out some really good “product” these days.  hopefully his hard work will pay off!  the peat provides acidity and moisture retention, the compost (we use aspen shavings for Ziggy’s bedding) provides nutrients and a bit more acid.  I mulched each container with 2 inches of pine needles, donated from the local patch of woods, again to help keep the acidity nice and low.   a grower who did a similar mix in 12 gallon pots harvested 10-15 pounds of each bush!  I’ll be happy with 5 pounds…grow like the wind little bushes!


About Ryan

Urban gardening at it's best (sometimes it's worst)! Adventures and learnings from going 100% lawn free in a D.C. row house.
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