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Low pH (corrected from low acid) food forest for Blueberries

 
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Hi,

Wondering about a low acid food forest for blueberries on a small commercial scale.  I have the following questions:

- Is this a good idea, our would they be better planted in a woodchip garden bed where they are not competing for soil and can be netted easily.

- Would it be best for them to be the highest plant, or do they prefer partial shade?

- What plants would also go well in a low acid environment?  It doesn't have to be edible.  We also have need for a windbreak, and anything that would be good for animal fodder, fire wood or untreated fence posts that don't rot would also be a useful plant in this.  I have also considered growing a small crop of Christmas trees, so that is one that could go together with the blueberries.

We are in New Zealand, by the beach, so frosts down to -2-3C often in winter, but never more than -4C on record.  We also have summers that average 22C high, and never more than about 30C on record.  VERY temperature zone!
 
gardener
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Hi Annie, I have some blueberry bushes and I think I can help with your first two questions. Blueberries grow better and produce more & higher quality fruit under full sun and if you have an area to plant them where they can be in the blazing sun all day long, they'll do better than in an area competing for the suns energy. I have several varieties of blueberries planted in their own area where I can monitor the blueberries soil and amend or adjust it separately from other soils that I grow edibles in.

It's not much, but I hope this helps you out. :)
 
pollinator
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Annie Hope wrote:
- Is this a good idea, our would they be better planted in a woodchip garden bed where they are not competing for soil and can be netted easily.


Not a good idea. They love acidic soil and easier for them to absorb iron from an acidic soil. If the acidity is low (high pH) you will notice chlorosis on leaves and eventually loosing all leaves. It happened to me before I knew nothing about them. Bought some sulfur and added to their soil which fixed the problem and they are happy and fruiting right now. Mine are in pots and I cover them otherwise they are bird food.


Annie Hope wrote:
- Would it be best for them to be the highest plant, or do they prefer partial shade?


Full sun if they are fruiting, partial would be okay till they get to fruiting age.

Annie Hope wrote:
- What plants would also go well in a low acid environment?  It doesn't have to be edible.  We also have need for a windbreak, and anything that would be good for animal fodder, fire wood or untreated fence posts that don't rot would also be a useful plant in this.  I have also considered growing a small crop of Christmas trees, so that is one that could go together with the blueberries.


Not low acid but high acid, Hydrangeas would be a good indicator of acidity. You can have a test of  "at what color of hydrangea, you get the best blueberries?" Alpine Strawberry, Aronia melonacarpa, Arbutus unedo, Mespilus germanica and may be even goji berry would go well in a blue berry forest garden.

Annie Hope wrote:
We are in New Zealand, by the beach, so frosts down to -2-3C often in winter, but never more than -4C on record.  We also have summers that average 22C high, and never more than about 30C on record.  VERY temperature zone!


I am in Canberra, winter is -7C min and summer is 40C max and my blueberries are still alive after 3 years. They flower end of winter.
 
Annie Hope
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Thanks for the hydrangea tip.

Sorry - my science terminology went a bit wrong - I meant a low PH garden, not low acid.

what application of sulphur do you use to make your soil more acidic (e.g. what form and how much and how often)?


Annie
 
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Hi Anne, great question!  I'm wondering the same thing.  I will plant about 100 more shrubs/trees in my forest this spring and I don't know how to make the blueberry locations lower in pH.  I'm currently at a 6.0 but I think lower would be better.
 
Gurkan Yeniceri
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I used this from bunnings. I applied 2 tbsp. per 40L pot mixed in with soil and coffee grounds. This product does not dissolve with water easily.

I also bought Yates liquid sulfur thinking that once the pots are established I can use this as top dressing when required.

Of course, a pH measurement test is necessary before/after each application.

Edit: I measure the acidity once a year and top up sulfur if required
 
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