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  • Three new blueberries to join the first

    I was planning to wait to get another blueberry or two next year to join my first Sunshine blueberry from earlier this year, since the go-to nurseries were out of stock, but last weekend on a day trip to Half Moon Bay, unexpectedly came across some southern highbush varieties for sale at Half Moon Bay Nursery. They had mostly southern highbushes plus a few high-chill varieties, and grabbed the healthiest-looking plants each of Emerald, Jewel, and Star. I was planning to get a Southmoon to try too, but their selection for that looked pretty bad. The owner said Jewel and Star were two of his favorites, but hasn't been too impressed by Emerald. The one with top reviews, Sweetcrisp, wasn't available, but based on what the rest of you say, it's hard to come by in California.

    Despite my earlier resolution to not add to the already huge collection of fertilizers and potting soils lying around, I did end up getting some acidic potting mix, sulfur, fertilizer, and forest mulch. I potted them in 5-gal containers using about 1/3 each of Kellogg organic shade mix (forest chips and peat, looks like mostly peat) + peat moss + forest mulch, plus a handful of sulfur pellets and a little acid fertilizer per plant. They're topped with a few inches of forest mulch. Mulch at my local gardening stores is mostly listed by its color, specification of fir/pine/forest/etc. type doesn't seem to be their priority, so I grabbed one that at least mentioned the forest. The first blueberry I had, the Sunshine, is the bottom right one. The others look older and less compact. I think they're due for some pruning. These are my first blueberries, hoping they do well!
    You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 1 photos.
    Sarah
    Bay Area, CA (zone: 9B)

  • #2
    Congratulations on your new additions. I hope they prosper. Looks like they've already had some stress in their lives, but consistent good care should take care of that.
    SoCal, zone 10.
    www.ourfigs.com Invite your friends.

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    • #3
      Thanks, Gina. By stress are you referring to the leaves on the Emerald? None of them look as healthy as the Sunshine, but the Emerald looks the worst. Its leaves were reddish green in places, and I trimmed off some but not all of the dead branches.

      Hoping it's just a matter of food or pH that potting with fertilizer and sulfur will help, and not some scary disease that's hard to treat. If you have a good guess on what it could be, be glad to hear it. I'm shopping for a reliable pH meter too. Anyone recommend a good one, or do you use pH strips?
      Sarah
      Bay Area, CA (zone: 9B)

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      • #4
        It does not look like disease, but rather the nursery was not mindful of proper pH and most likely not consistent watering. (They look a lot like my local nursery's BB plants - and they are high quality place.) And at the wrong pH.. the plants cannot take up the necessary nutrients. I'd suggest just making sure you water with an adjusted pH and if you fertilize, go lightly at first till the plants are more acclimated to their new environment.

        I don't use a pH meter, but rather litmus paper. I depend on watering with lower pH water, adjusted to the proper level (5-ish) with acid. Sulfuric acid purchased as battery acid from an automotive store. Some use vinegar, others citric acid. Apparently pool acid (muriatic) works too, and would be quite easy to find, plus not be very expensive.
        SoCal, zone 10.
        www.ourfigs.com Invite your friends.

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        • #5
          I thought I saw a thread somewhere discussing how vinegar might not be the best option for perpetual use. It was probably yours.

          Anyway, I've got sulfuric acid, glass pipets, and pH strips on the way. If these blueberries die or do poorly, it won't because I didn't try...
          Sarah
          Bay Area, CA (zone: 9B)

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          • #6
            Originally posted by sarahkt View Post
            I thought I saw a thread somewhere discussing how vinegar might not be the best option for perpetual use. It was probably yours.

            Anyway, I've got sulfuric acid, glass pipets, and pH strips on the way. If these blueberries die or do poorly, it won't because I didn't try...
            You are right, vinegar is not the best. But it's better than nothing. The best is a natural low pH soil, but most of us don't have that, so sulfuric is an acceptable alternative. Some people don't like working with a strong acid, though at 30%, battery acid is already a weaker dilution, though care still needs to be taken.

            Good luck.

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

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            • #7
              Update: Two weeks of watering them with pH-adjusted water (sulfuric acid) and the reddish leaves of the Emerald have turned green or mostly green again. Aha! Sweet success. Taking this as a sign that I'm doing this correctly so far. Will start feeding them a dilute acid fertilizer every week or two now that they all seem settled in.
              Sarah
              Bay Area, CA (zone: 9B)

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              • #8
                Glad you are having success with the pH adjustment. Let the good health of your plants be your guide. I have noticed recently some fluctuations with pH levels in our local water supply. The drought is causing here some lowering of quality. My regular dilutions are not standard anymore, so I'm checking the pH with every acid watering. I use litmus paper.
                SoCal, zone 10.
                www.ourfigs.com Invite your friends.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Yep, I took a tip from you and use litmus paper to check the water's pH while adjusting with sulfuric acid each time I water. The pH meters I saw for sale either had varying reports of reliability or seemed expensive, or both. Two matchbook packets of the old reliable pH strips were only $3 on Amazon.

                  I've only had to water them 2 or 3 times so far due to the mulch. It was fairly simple once I had all the reagents, so the acid/pH checking/finicky blueberry care hasn't been the big deal that I thought it would be.
                  Sarah
                  Bay Area, CA (zone: 9B)

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