amending soil for blueberry planting

Asked May 23, 2020, 11:47 AM EDT

We have tested our soil, dug down to three feet and out to 12 feet to mix and amend our soil to plant three blueberry bushes. We did three soil tests and our clay soil is at about a 6.5 ph so we are planning to add in elemental sulfur but I'm having trouble finding it a regular garden stores. According to some of your material we should add about 4 pounds per 100 sq feet. We plan to mix the soil in a wheel barrow by hand and put it back into the ground. Two questions: will this product also work: https://www.farmstore.com/product/espoma-soil-acidifier-6-lb It is the only thing I can find. And second question: any tips for proportions to mix into the soil if we do use this product? Since it seems to not be pure sulfur I thought perhaps I should double the recommendation to get more sulfur in the soil? We plan to plant tomorrow (Sunday) so it looks like I have to use this product rather than elemental sulfur. Thanks for any help you can provide. Also, we know it is a good idea to wait a year after amending soil but we want to plant the three bushes tomorrow. Thank you for an and all advice. :)

Clackamas County Oregon

5 Responses

Hello,

At that neutral pH (high pH for blueberries), I usually recommend planting a different crop, since pH for blueberries needs to be within 4.5 - 5.5. I'm mentioning this from a gardener perspective as I have tried to grow my own blueberries at home with a pH as high as yours, added pounds of TigerSul (elemental sulfur) and the plants never did well. If you were on the higher decimals of 5, maybe 5.8 or 5.9 I would recommended amending with sulfur. Also the blueberry plants are very sensitive to pH when young, so I suggest waiting the recommended time, or your plants won't establish well and they may not recover. Additionally, I recommend you test for organic matter, that is as important as pH on clay soils, which is why raised bed shaping is recommended to at least 8 inches, in addition to incorporating sawdust in the soil a year ahead of planting for good drainage and soil structure.

If you still feel like amending the soil and planting the blueberries, I would add the sulfur product (it's fine to use the one you found) and sawdust now, pot your plant in a larger pot with a peat/bark mix with sulfur and keep in a pot for an additional year, then test your soil next year, see if it's ready and then plant your bushes. It will save you some money in the long run. Give me a call if you want to talk about the details.

Best,

Oh shoot. We planted them this weekend. We layered 18 lbs. of the espoma soil amendment in between about 80 cubic feet of soil in layers of the clay soil and layers of peat moss. We put some perlite on the lower layers and vermiculite on the upper layers. We mulched the plants in douglas fir mulch. Gulp. They are now in so I guess we will see what happens. We also used some root support as we planted them on the recommendation from Al's Nursery. I guess now we will just see what happens... One more question now under these circumstances. The plants are pretty mature and have lots of berries on them. Should we pluck them off now, while green, to allow the plants to have the best chance at setting into the roots this year?

It will be good to track and see how they develop so don't worry about that. You'll be able to see and maybe we'll know then if this is the issue. Usually you should remove flowers for the first two years but it really depends on the size of your plant. Send me an email with some photos to javier.f-s@oregonstate.edu and I can give you some more input.

Best,

Thank you so much. Here they are. I can get a close up photo tomorrow in the daylight. There are actual berries, not flowers any longer. We can pluck them green if it is advisable.

Thanks for hanging in there with me!

Please send it to my email with your contact info. I'll be login off this system for a while. Thanks!