Blueberry test in four different potting soils
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Posted by Don Birkholz (+1248) 2 months ago
I am defining "soil" as "a medium in which something takes hold and develops." Blueberries require an acid soil and the prevalent way to get this is to buy acid potting soil which is many times hard to find. I just got some from Gurney's for around 24 dollars for a 20 pound bag (on sale).

Another alternative is to make your own. So, I did a test last year using four different potting "soils". I don't like the word medium. (1) The first soil on the right is a substance taken from one of Garden Answer's You Tube videos and is basically regular potting soil with the addition of a little Holly Tone and Soil Acidifier (go to her video if interested). (2) This is the Cornell acid mixture of half peat and half vermiculite. (3) This is a mixture of 60% peat and 40% potting soil. (4) This is 100% peat. You will notice the Cornell mixture grew twice as fast as the others. The first two blueberries were Chippewa blueberry and the last two were the Brunswick, which is a wild variety.

Anyone wanting to grow blueberries in cold regions should grow the hardiest and lowest growing varieties so as to be able to cover them up over the winter. Brunswick only grows about a foot high and two feet wide. (You should have two varieties).

There are two amendments to keep on hand: a fast acting acidifier (ammonium sulfate) (if leaves turn yellow), and a fertilizer for acid-loving plants (Miracid).

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Posted by Hal Neumann (+9743) 2 months ago
Don, have you checked nurseries in Alaska? I don’t know the sub-species, but we used to harvest blueberries that grew close to the ground like huckleberries. This was in areas of mixed taiga / tundra and bog tundra, on the Alaska Peninsula about 35on air-miles southwest of Anchorage on the Bering Sea side. They were very cold tolerant.
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Posted by Don Birkholz (+1248) 2 months ago
I checked out most of them. Some sell the lower 48 blueberries, but I don't think anyone has mail-order. Dick Proenneke (Alaska legend) supposedly picked blueberries where it was 50 below, but he noted that people exaggerated some things about his story. And, maybe they get so much snow cover they never experience 50 below.
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Posted by Hal Neumann (+9743) 2 months ago
We lived on the Naknek River a couple hours by air south of Proenneke’s cabin in the Lake Clark region. Every couple of winters we’d get some 40 below weather and have heavy snow cover– most winters though were warmer and more open.

I’ll ask around and see if anyone I know in AK knows of a nursery that ships to the 48s.
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Posted by mikekll (+42) 2 months ago
Hi Don,
I lived in Peters Creek, Alaska (23 miles north of Anchorage) for nearly 14 years prior to moving to Miles City. I had a blueberry garden when I lived in Peters Creek. I bought those blueberry plants at Lowe's in Anchorage. That could be another avenue for you to obtain some cold weather blueberry plants. Mine did extremely well up there.
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Posted by Richard Bonine (+14728) one month ago
I wonder what the soil pH’s were for the four materials.

When I worked for JEM Ag back in the 80’s we made acid fertilizer from phosphoric and black oil of vitriol. It took about 3 years of application but moved soil pH from the 8.2 to 7.6. Remember, the pH scale is logarithmic. Blueberries need a soil pH of 4.5-5.5. Even with a manufactured soil medium, keeping the pH that low in SE MT is a challenge due to water quality.
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Posted by Don Birkholz (+1248) one month ago
I don't test for ph. With all the bad reviews on ebay for the ph meters, I steer away from them. I simply look for blueberry plants that turn yellow/white and feed a fast-acting acicifier. Cornell University says you should feed each plant 4 oz of ammonium sulfate each spring because most irrigation water increases the alkalinity.
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Posted by Hanson (+1844) one month ago
It's not irrigation or our aquifers that is the problem, the problem is acid rain. I have had a swimming pool for about 50 years. Thirty years ago rain had no effect on the ph of our pool. Starting about 1995 when it would rain the ph of the pool would go down requiring the addition of soda. Over the years it has drastically changed. There is no question about it, every rain we receive now is acid rain.
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Posted by DJanssen (+141) one month ago
I can be such a dumbass, but, my youngest son left me with a bearded dragon. They will spin the wheels, so to say, for a blueberry. I hear it leaves the dragons with a calcium deficiency and as I am, first,try to not be a dumbass, I feed supplements (calcium and basic vitamins). Lost my dog a year or two ago but you know what, to have a dragon fall asleep with you while while watching tv, give the boy some cover, they sleep like a sheep? I don't know how a sheep sleeps. Sorry to invade and innocent post.
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