You may have read my last rant post and thought I was anti-Lowes.  Let me assure you I am not, they just happen to be where I spotted these situations I am writing about.  And this one is about the promotion of blueberries.  Mind you last year I also saw blueberries being sold at Wal-mart in Edgewood and Home Depot in Albuquerque.  Our primary goal at Road’s End Farm is to educate about and promote fruit varieties suited to growing locally by average people and gardeners.  As many of you know, we do a lot of experimental growing just to stretch the envelope and see if it is possible with unique varieties.

I love blueberries and everyone I know also does.  The idea of growing this fruit at home is certainly appealing. Who wouldn’t like to get up in the morning, take a few steps out of the house and pick a handful of fresh blueberries to toss onto their morning cereal?   Like they say “Ain’t gonna happen”.   Soil in our area varies from 7.4 to about 8.6 in ph.  This is highly alkaline.  Blueberries thrive in a ph of 4.5-5 at the top end.  This is highly acidic. Think peat bog.

You will not be able to grow blueberries in our soil.  Books will tell you to amend it with peat moss or to add aluminum sulfate to lower the ph.  At best these are very short term measures.  Consider the fact that you are constantly adding a high ph water and you can see this is a losing battle.  Bacterial action breaking down the peat will also have a slightly alkaline reaction. Blueberries  do not particularly like our intense sun or UV.

If you decide that you must experiment and try some, container culture is the best hope you will have.  I recommend a large container at least 10 gal and preferably 15 gallon size depending on the variety of plant.  Your “soil” mix will need to be about 90% peat moss mixed with a packaged topsoil.  The addition of cottonseed compost would be a good replacement for topsoil since it is also low ph and will provide nutrients.  Beware that most compost is alkaline in nature so do your homework.  You can probably add vinegar (5% acetic acid) to the water you use for the plants.  A quality ph kit or electronic measuring device is a must.  Collecting neutral ph rainwater for the plants would also be a benefit.  Find a site that gets afternoon shade and containers can be buried in the ground.  This will help protect the roots from temperature swings and also cut down how much you need to water them.  Also you will want to net them so the birds don’t beat you to them. It’s an awful lot of work and some expense but for the adventurous and patient ones out there, give it a shot.

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