• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Building a berm near a mature pecan tree?  RSS feed

 
Tina Paxton
Posts: 283
Location: coastal southeast North Carolina
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have a .6 acre homestead that I'm trying to improve using permaculture principles/methods. The property is "sub-rural" as I like to call it -- not suburban but with neighbors so the esthetics do matter. The previous caretaker was a roundup fan, even using it in place of an edgetrimmer. So, I've spent the last five years first letting it set fallow except for mowing and then, more recently, in establishing some fruit trees and other perennial plantings (Plus adding rabbits, chickens, and ducks to the homestead). I say that to ask this:

I have a *very* mature pecan tree (plus 3 more younger but mature ones--making up what I call my pecan grove) in my "front 40". The ground slopes down noticeably from the trunk of the largest tree, levels out for a few yards and then there is the ditch mandated by the county. I would like to build a berm curving around the dripline of the pecan "grove" to catch the water and soil and slow it's movement toward the ditch. What I don't want to do is dig a swale (tree roots) NOR create a problem for the tree roots by piling a few feet of material on top. So, the questions:

1. would building a berm along the dripline cause problems for the pecan's root?
2. what materials should I use to create the berm?
3. would water collecting behind the berm adversely affect the trees?
 
John Elliott
pollinator
Posts: 2392
79
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Pecans are deep taproot trees, so your fiddling around with the topsoil around the dripline is hardly going to be noticed.

That said, there is a lot you can do with the understory. Some pecan growers seed the grove with crimson clover and the nitrogen that the clover fixes is a net benefit for the tree. You could also plant grapes and let them climb up the trees, pecans seem to tolerate that well. Blackberries are another possibility, but if you are not careful, you could end up with a big tangle of brambles that would make it hard to harvest the nuts. I know it is popular in the South to plant azaleas because "oh, they look so pretty" for the two weeks they are in flower, but other than that, they really are a useless plant. They are one of the few plants that don't host any mycorrhizal fungi, so they are not really helping the other plants any.

I would say build your berms with wood chips, lawn clippings, brush cuttings or whatever you have available and then cover that with a few inches of topsoil. It will end up looking like a hugelbed. Maybe plant it with some flowers -- canna lilies, zinnia, marigolds, dahlia, etc., to give it some curb appeal.
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
Posts: 2679
Location: Phoenix, AZ (9b)
174
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Tina:

How much rain do you get and do you get significant runoff flowing downhill in the area of the tree (making its way to that ditch)? Significant runoff might necessitate a little calming uphill of the tree - one rock dams, hedges, keylines - whatever works for your land. If there's a lot of runoff that would build up behind the berm, I would make it of soil, possibly even armor it with stones on the downhill side. Too much water too fast might blow out a woodchip berm (although I do like woodchip berms on very slightly sloped land).

Are you planning a "boomerang berm" (crescent berm) just on the downhill slope of the tree?

If your tree is mature, I would probably place the berm just inside the dripline as most of the feeder roots are at the dripline or beyond. Sediment will build up behind the berm over time, but again, probably not a big deal because its not right on the active part of the dripline.
 
Tina Paxton
Posts: 283
Location: coastal southeast North Carolina
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
John Elliott wrote:Pecans are deep taproot trees, so your fiddling around with the topsoil around the dripline is hardly going to be noticed.


That's good to know! That also relieves my worries about planting within the dripline and disturbing the roots. Now...the question of what to plant...

John Elliott wrote:That said, there is a lot you can do with the understory. Some pecan growers seed the grove with crimson clover and the nitrogen that the clover fixes is a net benefit for the tree. You could also plant grapes and let them climb up the trees, pecans seem to tolerate that well. Blackberries are another possibility, but if you are not careful, you could end up with a big tangle of brambles that would make it hard to harvest the nuts. I know it is popular in the South to plant azaleas because "oh, they look so pretty" for the two weeks they are in flower, but other than that, they really are a useless plant. They are one of the few plants that don't host any mycorrhizal fungi, so they are not really helping the other plants any.


Mother likes azaleas and yes, it is practically a Rule that one must have them! I am keeping them to foundation planting. What about her other favorite--hydrangeas? I know they aren't edible for human or livestock so I've also been regulating them to foundation planting (must keep Mother happy). I have planted some blackberries in another area. Mother is used to seeing grapes (muscadines in this area) on trellis, I'm not sure I could convince her to use the pecans for the trellis...and then how would we harvest the grapes?? The crimson clover is a good idea -- will look nice, low growing, and I can trim it for feeding to the rabbits. Other ideas good understory plantings? Oh, I do have some dogwood growing in the "grove". Any other Southern bushes/small trees that would be beneficial to the pecans as well as 1) pretty and/or 2) edible for human and/or livestock.

John Elliott wrote:I would say build your berms with wood chips, lawn clippings, brush cuttings or whatever you have available and then cover that with a few inches of topsoil. It will end up looking like a hugelbed. Maybe plant it with some flowers -- canna lilies, zinnia, marigolds, dahlia, etc., to give it some curb appeal.


wood chips, check....lawn clippings...check...brush cuttings...well, I got a pile of "windfall branches" looking for a good use... canna lilies we got (called "Wounded Soldiers" around here)...daffodils...daylilies... and of course Mother is always happy when I plant more rosebushes (pretty for her and food for the rabbits).

 
John Elliott
pollinator
Posts: 2392
79
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Blueberries?

I have some highbush blueberries on my back property line, in front of my neighbors' pecan grove. They get some sun, but not a whole lot, and they still put out a nice yield. They benefit from heavy mulching, like you will have with the berm.
 
Tina Paxton
Posts: 283
Location: coastal southeast North Carolina
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jennifer Wadsworth wrote:Hi Tina:

How much rain do you get and do you get significant runoff flowing downhill in the area of the tree (making its way to that ditch)? Significant runoff might necessitate a little calming uphill of the tree - one rock dams, hedges, keylines - whatever works for your land. If there's a lot of runoff that would build up behind the berm, I would make it of soil, possibly even armor it with stones on the downhill side. Too much water too fast might blow out a woodchip berm (although I do like woodchip berms on very slightly sloped land).


During Winter and Spring we can get a good bit of rain and, of course, during hurricane season we can get a very significant bit of rain in a short period of time. The slope behind the largest pecan is not as significant as in front of it. I don't know the exact degree of slope in front but I'd guess about 3-4%...definitely noticeable. Tucked into the Pecan Grove uphill from the pecan I want to build the berm for is my rabbitry so runoff includes manure enriched water. That's another reason I want to slow it's flow...get more of that into the ground where it benefits my trees rather than in the ditch.

Jennifer Wadsworth wrote:Are you planning a "boomerang berm" (crescent berm) just on the downhill slope of the tree?


I'm thinking of shaping it around the front side of the pecan and the curving around to follow the shape of the keyline (if that is the right word) which would result in roughly an reverse S with the Pecan in the bottom curve if that makes sense....

Jennifer Wadsworth wrote:If your tree is mature, I would probably place the berm just inside the dripline as most of the feeder roots are at the dripline or beyond. Sediment will build up behind the berm over time, but again, probably not a big deal because its not right on the active part of the dripline.


I kinda hoped that eventually the sediment would reduce the amount of slope...if that wouldn't harm the pecan. It's all about the pecans...
 
Tina Paxton
Posts: 283
Location: coastal southeast North Carolina
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
John Elliott wrote:Blueberries?

I have some highbush blueberries on my back property line, in front of my neighbors' pecan grove. They get some sun, but not a whole lot, and they still put out a nice yield. They benefit from heavy mulching, like you will have with the berm.


ummm...I hadn't thought about blueberries with my pecans. I planted some in another area...and am having some issues with getting them established there. Everyone plants their blueberries in full sun even though I've read they are really an understory plant. I will definitely try them on the berm and see how they do!
 
Tina Paxton
Posts: 283
Location: coastal southeast North Carolina
3
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I thought it might help to upload some pictures. I'm not sure if the slope is as obvious on the pictures as it seems to me.
2305-164625.jpg
[Thumbnail for 2305-164625.jpg]
View from the road. The berm would be an extension of the raised bed you see in the foreground.
2305-164709.jpg
[Thumbnail for 2305-164709.jpg]
This is from the driveway. There is a slope from the driveway and from the pecan tree.
 
Zach Muller
gardener
Posts: 778
Location: NE Oklahoma zone 7a
36
bike books chicken dog forest garden urban
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hey Tina, my entire garden is right along the drip line of a mature pecan, and oak, and it has been very productive so far. My closest swale is right on the drip line, and I dug down about a foot. There was some root disturbance as I dug my Swales, but nothing too crazy, maybe 3/4 of an inch thick. I used some well rotted wood and buried it with the excavated soil and then covered it with wood chips and green manure.


Within the drip line I have maintained a mixed planting of grasses, dandelion, wild flowers, yellow dock, comfrey, herbs, that will all be mowable before it is pecan harvest time. I have three Swales up slope from the pecan starting at the drip line and on the berms I have my dwarf fruit trees, legume trees, chop and drop trees, mulberries, blue berries, perennial herbs, strawberries, onions, lettuce, asparagus, tomatoes and a bunch of other things trying to establish( passion fruit and
Ground cherry among others)

About the full sun with blueberries, and other understory plants, to my observation it seems like sometimes people who are feeding a lot of fertilizer will suggest putting understory plants in full sun because for them it produces more fruits, but if you have an organic plant without excessive fertilizer it will be happier with partial sun. Just a thought, I am not sure.
 
Tina Paxton
Posts: 283
Location: coastal southeast North Carolina
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Zach Muller wrote:Hey Tina, my entire garden is right along the drip line of a mature pecan, and oak, and it has been very productive so far. My closest swale is right on the drip line, and I dug down about a foot. There was some root disturbance as I dug my Swales, but nothing too crazy, maybe 3/4 of an inch thick. I used some well rotted wood and buried it with the excavated soil and then covered it with wood chips and green manure.


Within the drip line I have maintained a mixed planting of grasses, dandelion, wild flowers, yellow dock, comfrey, herbs, that will all be mowable before it is pecan harvest time. I have three Swales up slope from the pecan starting at the drip line and on the berms I have my dwarf fruit trees, legume trees, chop and drop trees, mulberries, blue berries, perennial herbs, strawberries, onions, lettuce, asparagus, tomatoes and a bunch of other things trying to establish( passion fruit and
Ground cherry among others)

About the full sun with blueberries, and other understory plants, to my observation it seems like sometimes people who are feeding a lot of fertilizer will suggest putting understory plants in full sun because for them it produces more fruits, but if you have an organic plant without excessive fertilizer it will be happier with partial sun. Just a thought, I am not sure.


Oh, that sounds beautiful! How tall did you build the berm?

And, that makes sense about the blueberries. And, I'm not looking for the production levels that a commercial enterprise would require...enough for us is sufficient.
 
Susan Pruitt
Posts: 88
Location: North Carolina, USA Zone 7b
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hey Tina - I have a .66 "sub-rural" lot too - love your pictures! I have 3 giant old pecan trees which lured me into buying this place which I've named "Peacewood" I wonder if I might divert this topic a bit (not sure how to organize my questions on this site in spite of trolling around here for two years - lol!

I've been working my tail off (literally and figuratively) for 2-1/2 years to amend my garden soil by mowing my pecan leaves and piling them on my vegetable garden, as well as in the compost pile. Recently a new, local permaculture friend mentioned to me that pecans are allelopaths. Well I'm panicking and have been searching the internet to learn more. I've found several several university horticulture articles that mention that pecan produces less juglone than walnut and lists landscaping plants that are sensitive, but I can't find anything about food plants. Not all of my vegetables thrived in the last two years but I'm sure for many reasons (new garden with poor soil, too much rain, not enough rain, not enough experience on my part)

It doesn't sound like you folks with pecan trees worry about this. Does "cooking" the leaves in the compost pile deactivate juglone? Mr. Elliott, I saw your message and knowing you're a student of plant biology I thought I'd ask

Thank you!
Susan in Greensboro
 
John Elliott
pollinator
Posts: 2392
79
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Everything you ever wanted to know about juglone can be found here.

Black walnut trees are the worst offenders in this regard, putting off the most juglone in their attempt to maintain some space to themselves. I haven't noticed any bad effects from pecan leaves, hulls, branches, or seedlings in my garden. Or maybe I have just become acclimated to its effects. Soil fungi will break it down, so if you have a problem with a black walnut that you have just taken out, pile the area with wood chips and let the fungi do their magic.
 
Tina Paxton
Posts: 283
Location: coastal southeast North Carolina
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Susan Pruitt wrote:Hey Tina - I have a .66 "sub-rural" lot too - love your pictures! I have 3 giant old pecan trees which lured me into buying this place which I've named "Peacewood" I wonder if I might divert this topic a bit (not sure how to organize my questions on this site in spite of trolling around here for two years - lol!

I've been working my tail off (literally and figuratively) for 2-1/2 years to amend my garden soil by mowing my pecan leaves and piling them on my vegetable garden, as well as in the compost pile. Recently a new, local permaculture friend mentioned to me that pecans are allelopaths. Well I'm panicking and have been searching the internet to learn more. I've found several several university horticulture articles that mention that pecan produces less juglone than walnut and lists landscaping plants that are sensitive, but I can't find anything about food plants. Not all of my vegetables thrived in the last two years but I'm sure for many reasons (new garden with poor soil, too much rain, not enough rain, not enough experience on my part)

It doesn't sound like you folks with pecan trees worry about this. Does "cooking" the leaves in the compost pile deactivate juglone? Mr. Elliott, I saw your message and knowing you're a student of plant biology I thought I'd ask

Thank you!
Susan in Greensboro


I mulch the pecan leaves with my mulching mower and then (usually) put them under the rabbit hutches and from there, it goes to the garden. I've not noticed problems with growing plants near either my large pecans nor the saplings planted by the squirrels.

I have been having a great deal of issues with establishing plantings on my property. Part of that I blame on the former "caretaker" -- my now deceased stepfather who was a huge fan of Round-up and other toxic chemicals. I pretty much had to leave the ground fallow for 3 years, just dumping all the leaf mulch and grass clippings I could gather onto it. The last two years has been a battle to plant and get things to grow. The rugosa roses that were promoted as "very fast growing. will grow 2 feet a year..." are just now--two years later--beginning to grow at all. Other roses I've planted have done better but I planted them on the other side of the fence from the rabbitry! (I plant roses because they make my mother happy and because they are "rabbit crack" so they count as part of my forage/fodder program.) I planted muscadines...died. I planted a dozen blueberries...one lived. Raspberries...died. Blackberries...lived. Plums...lived by seem to prefer staying very short so far. Fig...died. Willows...doing fabulously. ...garden vegetables are a very mixed bag of success -- okra grows like weeds but potatoes are a no go. It has been quite the challenge.

I stopped tilling beginning of last year -- all tilling was doing was multiplying the weeds and Lord knows, I don't need that!

Sometimes, I think I am way better at animal husbandry than gardening but I must get this gardening thing worked out to feed humans and animals so I press on. I'm a long way from the goal I set for myself 3 years ago -- I wanted to have a max'ed out productive homestead by 2015. Hah! I'm a long long way from that! But...I shall not give up.

How about you?
 
Susan Pruitt
Posts: 88
Location: North Carolina, USA Zone 7b
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks John! Excellent info that did, indeed, tell me everything I wanted to know So I'll stop worrying, but coincidentally I just got a huge, free, load of maple chips (hmmm...I guess that makes me a "freeloader" ? - so be it - lol) from an arborist which I will put to use this fall to compost the fresh pecan leaves, and scavenge neighborhoods of their bagged oak leaves to pile on the veg garden while my pecan leaves percolate. A homesteader just never has enough leaves anyway, does one?

Tina I'd love to share more with you - should we go to PM? I'm supposed to be finishing my sewing business work right now - catch ya later!
Susan
 
Zach Muller
gardener
Posts: 778
Location: NE Oklahoma zone 7a
36
bike books chicken dog forest garden urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator


Oh, that sounds beautiful! How tall did you build the berm?

And, that makes sense about the blueberries. And, I'm not looking for the production levels that a commercial enterprise would require...enough for us is sufficient.


My tallest berm is about 2 feet high. As the wood below rots away more organic material is added on top as mulch, so the total height is in flux as it move through the season. One time one of my roosters got into that area and uncovered some of the buried wood near a cilantro plant and I was intrigued to find that the cilantro was growing almost completely with its roots in the wood and not soil.

Growing enough for me is hard, I have a tendency to end up with either too little or way to much, still working on the balance.
 
Queenie Hankinson
Posts: 37
7
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
For plant health, the most important environment besides sunlight and water is NOT what you want to grow but what your soil will grow. The pH or potential hydrogen in your soil tells you what nutrients are locked in your soil--plants with a key to unlock nutrition below a pH of 7 are called acid loving plants. The closer to 7 (which is a neutral pH) the more your plants can tolerate alkaline or less than optimal soils.

Hydrangeas--can grow in either alkaline (above 7 pH) or acid (below 7 pH) soils--the blooms reflect the soil pH--blue means an acid soil and pink an alkaline soil. blue and pink means relatively neutral.

There are few neutral soils.

ABOUT BLUEBERRIES. Blue berries are site specific. If you are having trouble with your blueberries one of the main reasons will be because your soil is too alkaline. Blueberries must have a very acidic soil to thrive (4 to 5 pH)

If you try to grow blue berries in alkaline soil they will either produce slowly or die off--unless a cultivar has been created to change this--blue berries tend to grow best near conifers. WHY? Because pine needles and other conifer needles are acidic.

If you have a great patch of blue berries, do not try to grow cabbages near them. WHY? If the blueberries are doing great the soil is acidic--if the soil is acidic the cabbages cannot thrive there, they need an alkalline soil.

Simply put, if you ignore the pH requirements of your plants they will not thrive and may even die--you will be starving them to death. Blue berries can unlock the nutrients in soil at around 4 to 5 pH BUT they STARVE at higher pHs because they do not have the combination to unlock the nutrients at higher levels.

KNOW YOUR pH...... for sustainability, it is a MUST as is knowing your soil composition and nutritive value (what minerals are in it and at what levels)
 
Tina Paxton
Posts: 283
Location: coastal southeast North Carolina
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Queenie Hankinson wrote:Hydrangeas--can grow in either alkaline (above 7 pH) or acid (below 7 pH) soils--the blooms reflect the soil pH--blue means an acid soil and pink an alkaline soil. blue and pink means relatively neutral.


My soil is acidic as is much of the South -- Azaleas rule for a reason! ...yes, the hydrangeas are blue.

Queenie Hankinson wrote:ABOUT BLUEBERRIES. Blue berries are site specific. If you are having trouble with your blueberries one of the main reasons will be because your soil is too alkaline. Blueberries must have a very acidic soil to thrive (4 to 5 pH)

If you try to grow blue berries in alkaline soil they will either produce slowly or die off--unless a cultivar has been created to change this--blue berries tend to grow best near conifers. WHY? Because pine needles and other conifer needles are acidic.


If it weren't for the fact that the "Lord of the Manor" who's property wraps around mine has blueberries growing along the property line not 12 feet away from where I planted mine, I'd think that perhaps the area I planted in was less acidic due to decades of being used as a vegetable garden. He and I have both done the same thing -- mulched heavily with pine needles (also plentiful here in the South even though my property is thankfully Southern Pine free). I'm really not sure why my blueberries failed when his are doing well. Perhaps he fertilized with something or added something to increase the acidity I truly don't know.

Queenie Hankinson wrote:Simply put, if you ignore the pH requirements of your plants they will not thrive and may even die--you will be starving them to death. Blue berries can unlock the nutrients in soil at around 4 to 5 pH BUT they STARVE at higher pHs because they do not have the combination to unlock the nutrients at higher levels.

KNOW YOUR pH...... for sustainability, it is a MUST as is knowing your soil composition and nutritive value (what minerals are in it and at what levels)


Good point. I don't know the specific pH of my soil.
 
Susan Pruitt
Posts: 88
Location: North Carolina, USA Zone 7b
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
You said it Queenie! That's THE most important thing I've learned since starting vegetable gardening. My soil is primarily clay and averages between 6 and 6.5, which is considered acid, but not enough for blueberries. I've been trying for 3 years to get that down around 4.5 but my berry shrubs are still puny. It wasn't until I transplanted them into raised beds, filling with lots of peat moss and well rotted pine compost, that they're looking healthier and some have lots of berries this year. But that requires ongoing amendments so I'm looking for a solution that's more sustainable than adding expensive acidifiers and iron. I read an article (can't remember where) about a guy who grows blueberries commercially and he said he's still amending the soil after 20 years! But then there's Paul of Back to Eden who says we don't need to worry about pH as long as the soil is nourished by the trees......hmmm

I've seen a number of posts here that adding acidic organic material does not make an appreciable difference (also my experience) so I've been wondering why some soil is naturally acidic and some not - it's the rock which created the soil! check this out:

http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/plants/other/soils/hgic1650.html

So I'm thinking you folks who have naturally acidic soil (where is that? Michigan?) could make a bundle selling bags of dirt from your property to those of us who are naturally more alkaline - lol!
 
Queenie Hankinson
Posts: 37
7
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Tina: If it weren't for the fact that the "Lord of the Manor" who's property wraps around mine has blueberries growing along the property line not 12 feet away from where I planted mine, I'd think that perhaps the area I planted in was less acidic due to decades of being used as a vegetable garden. He and I have both done the same thing -- mulched heavily with pine needles (also plentiful here in the South even though my property is thankfully Southern Pine free). I'm really not sure why my blueberries failed when his are doing well. Perhaps he fertilized with something or added something to increase the acidity I truly don't know. "

Ahhh so if acidity is not the problem or not all of the problem (pine needles should indeed help a lot) then we have to consider the other needs of blueberry shrubs.

Moisture--blueberry bushes grow well in places where there is continual moisture but not waterlogged conditions which is why they are often on the shores of lakes and ponds in coniferous forests--are you ensuring continual moisture for the bllue berry soil ( sandy loam that is a bit damp at all times but will still clump into a knob of soil)

Shade--blueberries are naturally an understory shrub or tree--they do best in partial shade instead of full sun--but this is misleading--in the North they like full sun BUT the further south you go, the less likely they can stand the amount of sun and heavy humidity. If your neighbor can grow the bushes but you can't--are you perhaps trying to grow yours with no protection from the sun?

A great way to grow them is as an understory tree to a deciduous or conifer with light shade? Blueberries also tend to like growing near raspberry bushes. It may be worth while to move your blueberry bush to a limbed up conifer or deciduous tree with nice dappled sunlight and see that it gets morning sun and not too much afternoon or western sun. If you must give it western sun, make sure the roots stay moist at all times (but not wet) This will decrease the stress on the plant, you may try a berm of conifers with the blueberry nestled at the center (try 3 of them, they like company) and see what happens, also, if you are downhill of your neighbor's property, be sure he is not spraying and that is affecting your bush --if the acidity is transient, then make sure to check the pH and ensure that the soil drains well enough.

A. Good acidic soil
B. adequate and continual moisture
C. dappled shade and shielding from too much western or afternoon sun in the South

Maybe this will help--

D. companion planting with raspberries or another plant to enhance the soil for the benefit of the blueberries. Also, pine is great for blueberries but some may not like juniper bush needles ...
 
Tina Paxton
Posts: 283
Location: coastal southeast North Carolina
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Queenie Hankinson wrote:Ahhh so if acidity is not the problem or not all of the problem (pine needles should indeed help a lot) then we have to consider the other needs of blueberry shrubs.


I will be testing to see if acidity is a contributing factor -- Neighbor may have or be adding supplements to acidify the soil...not sure. But in addition...

Queenie Hankinson wrote:Moisture--blueberry bushes grow well in places where there is continual moisture but not waterlogged conditions which is why they are often on the shores of lakes and ponds in coniferous forests--are you ensuring continual moisture for the bllue berry soil ( sandy loam that is a bit damp at all times but will still clump into a knob of soil)


I have failed in this regard, I confess.

Queenie Hankinson wrote:Shade--blueberries are naturally an understory shrub or tree--they do best in partial shade instead of full sun--but this is misleading--in the North they like full sun BUT the further south you go, the less likely they can stand the amount of sun and heavy humidity. If your neighbor can grow the bushes but you can't--are you perhaps trying to grow yours with no protection from the sun?


His are actually more exposed than mine. Mine only come out of the shade late afternoon--to be hit with the hot western sun. His are sun saturated from perhaps before noon. But, if his is getting more water (he has an irrigation line for them) they may be handling the sun better than mine which were not getting as much water.

Queenie Hankinson wrote:A great way to grow them is as an understory tree to a deciduous or conifer with light shade? Blueberries also tend to like growing near raspberry bushes. It may be worth while to move your blueberry bush to a limbed up conifer or deciduous tree with nice dappled sunlight and see that it gets morning sun and not too much afternoon or western sun. If you must give it western sun, make sure the roots stay moist at all times (but not wet) This will decrease the stress on the plant, you may try a berm of conifers with the blueberry nestled at the center (try 3 of them, they like company) and see what happens, also, if you are downhill of your neighbor's property, be sure he is not spraying and that is affecting your bush --if the acidity is transient, then make sure to check the pH and ensure that the soil drains well enough.


The Lord of the Manor won't tell me what he uses on his plantings -- I asked, he became mute so I must presume he is not using organic practices. The property in that area appears flat but there may be a very slight slope.

I will do some review of my property and decide where might be a better place to move it to -- perhaps over to a berm I want to build along the dripline of a very large pecan tree.

Queenie Hankinson wrote:A. Good acidic soil
B. adequate and continual moisture
C. dappled shade and shielding from too much western or afternoon sun in the South

Maybe this will help--

D. companion planting with raspberries or another plant to enhance the soil for the benefit of the blueberries. Also, pine is great for blueberries but some may not like juniper bush needles ...


Thanks for the help! very good information that will help me very much.
 
Queenie Hankinson
Posts: 37
7
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Tina: all things being equal or optimal, check the minerals in your soil. Blueberries and most berries require a minimum amount of soil nitrogen (comfrey or pee can provide this) , a certain amount of potassium, and a certain amount of phospherus. Calcium is not a problem for blueberries unless there is too much, but don't just put stuff on the bush, check first to see if there is a nutritive deficiency.

In Southern climates--orientation of the sun is important--Eastern and/or Southern sun in the summer is best, West is worst and then North, exposure to wind will dessicate or remove moisture faster so protect your bushes with tree cover--be sure the bushes can get direct morning light--afternoon sun can be too harsh. If you can move the plant--it is not so much what you plant it beside as it is what kind of moisture, sun exposure and pH for this plant--not all plants are this picky but blueberries are ericaceous and so love (and NEED) conditions that would kill many other plants. If you continue to have trouble with blueberry bushes, the Juneberries (Amelanchier spp.) are believed by many to resemble and have similar flavor to blueberries.
 
John Elliott
pollinator
Posts: 2392
79
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I would think that late afternoon sun, when it is setting, would not be a big problem. Mine get sun only in the middle of the day; in the morning they are shaded by pine trees to the east, and in the afternoon they are shaded by pecans of the other neighbor to the west. I wasn't really thinking location when I put them in. It was more like "now what can I put along the back fence line?"

What has made the difference between night and day is how I mulched them. When I just threw some pine straw around them, they did all right, but I would lose one now and then. Now that I dig in rotting oak branches and then give them a heavy mulch of shredded pine cones, they are doing much better.

If they have made it through one complete growing season where they are, then it doesn't seem like a fatal location. Before I went through the trouble of moving them to another location, maybe better, maybe worse, I would try side dressing them with lots of rotting wood and piling on the shredded pine cone mulch.
 
I will suppress my every urge. But not this shameless plug:
Permaculture Playing Cards
https://permies.com/wiki/57503/digital-market/digital-market/Permaculture-Playing-Cards
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!