This coming summer I plan to clear some shrubby brush from our property and put in a small upick it blueberry patch. My idea was to dig long trenches, fill with wood, cover up with the dirt from the trench and then plant the 2-3 yr old plants. Close to us is a conventional grower and supplier of blueberries to many of the nurseries around the country. they also fly around the country and help people set up succesful upick berry it operations.I attended a seminar they gave on growing berries and asked him about planting on top of a hugoculture bed. Of course he had never heard of it and he said it would not be worth the effort as blueberries roots dont go very deep so would be unable to reach the moisture deeper down anyway. So my question is, would it be worth the effort to do the hugoculture? Seems like the wicking effect it what would benefit it in the long run. Also if i do the hugoculture, how much dirt should i put over the logs? Is it better to allow the roots to intermingle with the logs. Here is a little background. We are in the boston mountains, in the ozarks of NWArkansas. The past 2 summers have been horrendously hot and dry, if it continues on that theme I will need all the moisture I can get. We do have a well but it a very low output well. We are on the top of a mountain, higher than all the surrounding area. It is a sloped property and we will be putting in some retention ponds and capturing rainwater in the future. But meanwhile i want to get started on the berry patch as it is one of the faster ways to bring cash in. Where i am putting the berry patch is towards the lower part of our property but slopes off of that so no chance for to much water to stick around. The area has tall hardwood trees on the west so will get late afternoon shade. I will probably mix up blackberries and honeyberries with the blueberries so its not so much a large area of the same plant. The berry guy said how they typically do it is till a long row, spread out water absorbing beads and till those in. put in the plants and a drip line. The water absorbing beads absorb extra moisture and release it back into the soil as the soil drys out, gives the plants a more continous supply of moisture as they are getting established. They then break down after 5 yrs, berries are well established by then. Then they cover the area with a pine needles mulch. According to him without a drip line the berry yield will not be at its maximum. We do not have the water for a dripline at this moment. We do have a backhoe and piles of old wood left from spot logging a couple yrs old so would not have to do this by hand or haul in materials. This will be about a $1000 investment initially with plans to add on more later so I want whats best for my berries. Any thoughts/comments on this.
You could still build a hugelkultur bed but just don't make it as high so the roots will be able to reach the logs closers to ground level where most of the water will be. The only other issue I can think of is the soil acidity you will need to maintain.
Location: Pennsylvania Pocono Mt Neutral-Acidic Elv1024ft AYR41in Zone 5b
posted 6 years ago
I grow lots of blueberries. I have found them to be fairly drought tolerant. I'm not keen on blueberries on high hugel mounds, maybe at the base of the hugel mound. Instead, do intensive, quality, blueberry specific compost and mulching. Also concentrate efforts on proper soil PH. We all know how blueberries love acidic soil. The low trench hugel idea is right on... filled with slow release organic material like wood, bone, seashell, eggshell , etc. paired with an understory of nutrient accumulators and mycorrhizal fungi. Good Luck!
Location: NW Arkansas
posted 6 years ago
My idea was to dig the trench and fill it with wood etc. up to about ground level or slightly below and then top that with 6-7 inches of dirt from the trench and whatever compost material I can get ahold of. I did not plan to build a high mound as it seems to me that it would dry out more and also make the plants more succebtable to erosion by the roots and wind damage. May also make the rows as slight berms that channeled the water back and forth through them to soak the wood underneath and then the excess could drain off the side of the hill. As we are new to the property and havent had much heavy rain since we have been here i need to do some more observing of the natural water flow. We have 10 acres and the ph on the other side of the property is 5.4. have not tested it yet in the area were the berries will be but expect that it will be in that range. It is considered a good berry area around here.
I thought it was funny your reaction to summers. Its always hot and dry. Sometimes its nice for a few days. I started to put huge amounts of organic material in with my blueberries and the garden. Mulch is free in my town(60miles NE of LR). Maybe 100 trailer loads and its helping with moisture and I'm not having to water so much, even the blueberries. Water bills were killing me. I dug down 2 feet and then put mulch in and tilled, and then more clay and mulch. Now i've got real good soil after 5 years of effort.
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