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  • BB questions from a newbie

    I've had several bushes (7) in ground for several years. I followed the most common online information - acidifying the soil with iron sulfate, fertilizing with ammonium sulfate. They have produced some, with lack luster growth. Please don't ask the varieties, although I bought them and there are different ones for cross pollination, I never labelled them.

    This year I am watering by hand with acidified water, and ammonium sulfate added once a week, hopefully to help them grow and produce.

    So the questions -
    How much water does each bush need? Some of them are small (2 ft, 3 branches) while others are "large" (3-4 ft tall, 2-3 ft across).
    How much fertilizer does each bush need? I've been giving each 1 Tbs ammonium sulfate per week.
    I've adjusted the pH of the water to 4.0 - 4.5... too low?

    Each bush gets some compost every year, as well as compost tea on occasion, and is well mulched. I have about 6" of good topsoil with dense clay under that. I assume most of the roots stay in the topsoil. Since they are really just starting this year, I cannot tell if the acidified water is helping.

    Thanks!
    Phil
    Zone 7A - Newark, DE; Zone 8A - Wilmington, NC;

  • #2
    What do you use to acidify your water? 4 to 4.5 seems low to me.
    SoCal, zone 10.
    www.ourfigs.com Invite your friends.

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    • drphil69
      drphil69 commented
      Editing a comment
      35% sulfuric acid. 5 drops brings my (so-called) 2 gallon watering can to that range.

  • #3
    Hi Phil, Sounds like you have everything right. I would top dress every year with pine bark mulch, preferably not the nuggets. Your answer for growth may be with Ericoid mycorrhiza. This specific group of fungi are necessary for the success of the family Ericaceae. I don't know a whole lot about it or a place to buy it. You supposedly can get some from root soil from blueberries growing in the wild or azaleas that have established colonies. Still researching this myself.
    PPP
    Eatonton, GA zone 7b/8a

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    • drphil69
      drphil69 commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks Pleamon. Please post what you find out about the fungi.

  • #4
    35% sulfuric acid. 5 drops brings my (so-called) 2 gallon watering can to that range.
    Sulfuric is the best option. I'd aim more for pH 5 however. Since you are using 'drops' of concentrated acid, even a small error can bring you too low.

    Also, if you are using only ammonium sulfate, perhaps your plants are missing a trace element of some sort. Periodically I like to add a fertilizer such as miracle gro, or Ironite (or whatever you can find locally) that contains trace elements. Hard to know what your compost tea might contain.

    Are your plants in full sun? If they've 'been in the ground for several years', do you prune them? With the clay beneath, do they drain well? Since you don't know what varieties you have, perhaps some of the ones you have are not best suited for your zone.

    Good luck.
    SoCal, zone 10.
    www.ourfigs.com Invite your friends.

    Comment


    • #5
      Thanks Gina. Yes they are in full sun and I prune every year. They are on a slight hillside so drainage is not an issue. I will add some ironite. I'm guessing the compost tea is mainly the good bugs/ bacteria. I make my own compost and what I use is well composted, and is aerated with a fish pump for several days until a foamy head forms. Then I dilute it about 5 parts water to 1 part tea. Figs and veggies seem to love it. When I bought them I used the zone guide from whatever nursery I purchased them from. I seem to recall one called Patriot, but I could be mistaken.
      Phil
      Zone 7A - Newark, DE; Zone 8A - Wilmington, NC;

      Comment


      • #6
        Gina- great points! My only other question would be what type of topsoil did you use for your raised bed and what was pH of it? I am thinking the topsoil you used may be too dense to allow good growth of your plants? But that is just a guess? I would recommend using mainly pinebark fines with some peatmoss mixed in near the plant. Hope this helps!

        Comment


        • drphil69
          drphil69 commented
          Editing a comment
          No raised bed, just natural Delaware topsoil. Adjusted with iron sulfate twice in 4 (5?) Years. It was around 5 but likely the
          clay was unaffected by adjustment.
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