Author Topic: Blueberries in buried containers (kid's pool) = isolated acidic?  (Read 4620 times)

Offline Kerosene

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I'm considering planting some blueberries in buried containers.

Although I've got the space to create an isolated acidic area far away from everything else in my garden, I'd ideally like to plant them amongst my fruit trees (on a drip system) AND still be able to manage the pH without it affecting nearby plants.

Blueberries have shallow and wide roots - how about a drilled out/well drained clam shell kid's pool buried up to the lip?
Maybe some gravel thrown in the bottom of it.
Anyone done this?
It would allow me to keep the soil acidic, yet not have it affect nearby plants. AND I wouldn't have to worry about watering an above ground container in summer since it would be on my drip system.

On the other hand...
If I were to plant blueberries directly into the ground, and acidify the soil, how far with the acidity leach? Enough to negatively affect my fruit trees?
I have 1-2 feet of topsoil, then light clay.
This is where I'm considering planting them - either in containers or not...

 

Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: Blueberries in buried containers (kid's pool) = isolated acidic?
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2015, 06:20:01 AM »
 :popcorn:


watching.  but I might suggest one of the slightly deeper kids pools.

Bonnieblue2A

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Re: Blueberries in buried containers (kid's pool) = isolated acidic?
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2015, 12:04:49 PM »
I acidified the soil for my blueberries by planting them in peat moss per the instruction of the producer from whom I  purchased the bushes.  This past year I've been adding shed needles from my spruce trees around them for mulch.

I have seen no negative affects from the attempts to acidify otherwise clay soil to the cherry, peach and fig tree planted in the same immediate space as those blueberry bushes.  In face I also have some annuals planted among them as well including:  tomato, cucumber, and watermelon.

If you watch Paul Guachi's Back to Eden documentary or YouTube tour snippets his blueberries do well without acidic soil.  I am beginning to believe with blueberries it is most important to build good soil, keep well watered, and keep them mulched.  Just my experience in year #4.  YMMV

Offline PorcupineKate

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Re: Blueberries in buried containers (kid's pool) = isolated acidic?
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2015, 10:30:38 PM »
Blueberries will tolerate acidic soil but they will be very happy in more neutral soil.  As long as the soil isn't very alkaline the blueberries won't care. 
 

Offline Skunkeye

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Re: Blueberries in buried containers (kid's pool) = isolated acidic?
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2015, 11:34:48 PM »
One thing to check before putting blueberries on your drip irrigation system is what the pH of your water is.  It can often be surprisingly alkaline, and over time will shift your soil pH in that direction.  I water my blueberries with rainwater for this reason, as our city water has a pH around 9.7, which would neutralize the acidic soil mix I'm using.

Offline Kerosene

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Re: Blueberries in buried containers (kid's pool) = isolated acidic?
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2015, 06:22:16 AM »
One thing to check before putting blueberries on your drip irrigation system is what the pH of your water is.
No city water here. Just rainwater tanks for the house, and open channel reservoir water for stock and garden.
The only thing added to our irrigation water is the occasional dead kangaroo or sheep that misjudged the jump over the channel. Lovely stuff  ;)

I have seen no negative affects from the attempts to acidify otherwise clay soil to the cherry, peach and fig tree planted in the same immediate space as those blueberry bushes. 
How close are your cherries and peaches from your blueberries?

Offline Skunkeye

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Re: Blueberries in buried containers (kid's pool) = isolated acidic?
« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2015, 09:49:12 PM »
I wouldn't be too worried about leaching.  Stone fruits like peaches, plums, cherries, etc, prefer slightly acidic soil anyway, in the 6-7 pH range.  And if your blueberry beds aren't directly under the trees, like right up to the trunks, it shouldn't be an issue.  Most leaching occurs vertically in the soil column, and won't spread out to the sides much (assuming the land is generally flat), and the tree roots will tend to find their way in the soil to areas that have preferable conditions.  So if the blueberry soil is too acidic for the, your cherry and peach trees just won't send roots into it, and will grow their roots in other directions. 

Offline Kerosene

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Re: Blueberries in buried containers (kid's pool) = isolated acidic?
« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2015, 06:06:04 AM »
Thanks for the replies everyone. Having never grown blueberries before, I'm probably over thinking things  ::)
I ended up planting a Brigitta (Australian hybrid) in a buried 24" pot with one third each of azalea potting mix, peat moss, and surrounding soil.
Also planted a Bluecrop straight into the soil with a few handfuls of peat moss.
We'll see how it goes.

Offline I.L.W.

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Re: Blueberries in buried containers (kid's pool) = isolated acidic?
« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2015, 10:57:19 AM »
Soil pH is important, but you really have very little influence over it, even utilizing containers. The pH scale is a measurement of ions, and they are always lost by neutralization. You need a very wide area of effect to make any lasting changes. That's why Lime is brought in on fields and applied by the dump-truck per acre every year or two. You can nudge the pH temporarily, but it will level out, even in containment.

In nature, blueberries live in valleys and ditches where they receive run-of "rock compost". That is highly mineralized leaf compost from trees growing in rock rich in minerals and metals, or where glacial deposits of these minerals are abundant. They grow in areas where the run-off recharges the soil frequently, and the area of effect is huge.

Pine needles are neutral when used as mulch. It doesn't hurt anything, but the positive effects are the added much, not a significant change in acidity.

What you need is a light, airy soil. Air pockets don't allow for ion-exchange as readily as wet soil laden with minerals. That's why peat moss helps. It's an insulating layer which moderates the swings in pH.

Water with slightly acidic water. Compost teas are usually a lower PH.

Now we need to understand why blueberries like acid. Simple, they need lots of iron. Acid dissolves the iron. It must be chelated for the plant to use it, so it's the interaction with the iron and the soil, facilitated by an acidic environment which allows this to happen. You could simply add chelated iron to your compost tea and water with that, ignoring the pH all together. And this will not harm your plants which prefer alkaline soils. This is a better solution than trying to continually balance soil pH.

Try adding granulated magnetite to the soil. One-time application is all you need when planting. You can buy it from lab supply companies, in bulk on amazon. If you only need a little, talk to this guy:



Yep, that black stuff in wooly willy's beard is magnetite, aka Iron III Oxide or Fe2O3.

You can also make your own iron amendments easily. Though not the same chemically as the above, a similar function can be gained with a simple DIY chemistry experiment. Get some iron (old cast iron pan for example, bailing wire etc). Nothing galvanized, just raw iron, the rustier, the better. Now get some hydrogen Peroxide from the pharmacy. Set the iron in a plastic container, submerge it in the hydrogen peroxide, and let it sit for a few weeks, occasionally scraping the surface of the iron off, back into the peroxide solution. Eventually, the peroxide and water will evaporate , and you'll have iron particles at the bottom of the bucket which can be added to your soil. Use sparingly, you only need about a teaspoon per 10²ft. 

pH is more important when dealing with hydroponics, aeroponics and aquaponics. In soil, on a large scale, it's cheaper for farmers to amend the pH to change the form of and better utilize the minerals already existing in the soil than it is to add them in the right form. But for a few blueberry plants, sulfering every year, or even just growing in containers will cost more than adding the correct nutrients from the start.

There are a few scholarly papers on the use of magnetite in soils, and some not so scholarly... Do your research, and question some of the sources. Call me old-fashioned, but I like to believe the guy with the PhD, not the the old hippie lady advocating well-being with ferrous mineral ennemas (yes, you'll see that is you dig into this topic, lol).  But I can attest to it's observable benefits (the soil ammendment, not the ennemas). Google it, do you research, try it in a test bed, arrive at your own conclusions.

Edit:
Seriously, there's a lot of crazy hippie bullshit about the health benefits of magnets these days. Don't eat, drink, wear, or insert rectally any strong magnet.

https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:-MsZMpZUB8MJ:www.aensiweb.com/old/rjabs/rjabs/2012/411-419.pdf+&cd=6&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

http://www.sciencepub.net/nature/ns1106/007_18140ns1106_46_61.pdf

https://pure.ltu.se/portal/files/60491117/LTU-EX-2013-44143171.pdf
« Last Edit: July 14, 2015, 11:14:16 AM by I.L.W. »

Bonnieblue2A

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Re: Blueberries in buried containers (kid's pool) = isolated acidic?
« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2015, 11:45:41 AM »


Pine needles are neutral when used as mulch. It doesn't hurt anything, but the positive effects are the added much, not a significant change in acidity.


Do you have a research link to back this up?   The University of Missouri Horticultural Research Center is heavily pushing the planting of a specific loblolly x pitch pine cross species for agroforestry uses and the benefits of harvesting bales of pine needles for sale of retail mulch for acid loving plants.

Offline LvsChant

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Re: Blueberries in buried containers (kid's pool) = isolated acidic?
« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2015, 12:14:42 PM »
I like your graphic, kerosene... keep us posted on your progress...

Offline I.L.W.

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Re: Blueberries in buried containers (kid's pool) = isolated acidic?
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2015, 12:43:23 PM »
Quote
Do you have a research link to back this up?   The University of Missouri Horticultural Research Center is heavily pushing the planting of a specific loblolly x pitch pine cross species for agroforestry uses and the benefits of harvesting bales of pine needles for sale of retail mulch for acid loving plants.

You can find many links on the Alberta Urban Gardner website. I don't always agree with his findings, but he's very good at citing resources, both on his main site and youTube channel. He also has a good reputation for explaining things in plain and easy to understand terms, and is open to "Internet Peer review" whereby one who questions his methods will have their position thoughtfully examined and he's willing to admit errors if he makes them or re-test any experiments as needed for confirmation.

So not the most scholarly source, but in my eyes, fairly credible. See his page for links.
http://www.albertaurbangarden.ca/2014/09/14/do-pine-needles-make-soil-more-acidic-truth-or-gardening-myth/

I don't agree with his reasoning fully, (he's correct, but I think he glossed over another key reason in the explanation of why pine forests tend to be acidic, chiefly, mycorrhizal exudates).

The needles themselves are acidic, but the ion exchange happens slowly, in the presence of oxygen and doesn't transfer to the surrounding soil in any meaningful way.

As for why research is ongoing in the cultivation of pine-needles as mulch, they're a popular, slow to degrade mulch. Consumers have viewed them as being for Acid-loving plants, and it's easier to capitalize on that myth commercially than launch a public education campaign to dispel it, potentially reducing the demand for the very product they are promoting. There are economic motives. Likewise, it's a cottage industry which promotes long-term stands of pine forests which are otherwise being depleted. That creates habitat for species currently being displaced, adding ecological and political motives to the research. Not claiming "conspiracy" here... they're just picking the arguments which suit their objectives as everyone (academia included) naturally does.

Personally, I like pine mulch, and a larger scale cultivation of pine needles benefits us ecologically and economically, so I support any efforts to commercialize it. However, it's function as a soil acidifier has little merit. That doesn't mean it's without it's uses, just that soil pH ammendment isn't one of them.

Offline PermacultureTrees

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Re: Blueberries in buried containers (kid's pool) = isolated acidic?
« Reply #12 on: November 18, 2015, 07:17:06 AM »
We test out soil every 2 years. Pine needles do not acidify soil, but the living trees clearly do. Why? Don't know for sure..