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  • New BB grower zone 6b

    I'm new to growing BB and would like some recommendations on picking a few varieties. I'm looking for some bushes that's cold hardy to zone 6b, good tasting, and productive. I live in eastern Kentucky and was wondering where would be the best place to buy these BB bushes. Would it be best to plant in the fall and let the roots get set in good or wait until spring so they have time to grow and get set before winter. How far do you plant these apart form eachother. Thanks
    Kentucky Zone 6b

  • #2
    One of the northern folks has to have a recommendation?
    Cutting sales start Nov 1 at 9PM eastern time as always at willsfigs.com

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    • #3
      I don't live up north Erick, but from all the reading I've done it seems waiting until spring will take all the guesswork out. If you fertilize and water correctly, the plants will grow fast anyway. Concerning spacing, if you are looking for hedges, then 3 feet spacing works. Otherwise, 6 feet is good. Some plants grow upright and some don't so take that into consideration.

      Here is a link that may help you further. You can find specifics for your zone:
      Houston, TX Zone 9a

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      • #4
        One breeder of NHB likes Cara's Choice.

        I think the real question is NHB or SHB. I'd try Sweetcrisp for home use just because it's the clear quality standard for all blueberries.
        Alpine, Texas 4500ft elevation Zone 7
        http://growingfruit.org/

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        • #5
          I've had good success with Northern High Bush cultivars, http://www.fallcreeknursery.com/gard...thern_highbush and 2 Southern High Bush cultivars, O'neal and Misty, http://www.fallcreeknursery.com/gard...thern_highbush This blueberry ripening Chart lists many of the more readily available NHB cultivars, http://www.fallcreeknursery.com/asse...Chart-2013.jpg

          I've spaced my Northern High Bush 4' apart and planted the Southern High Bush in pots that remain outside in winter, http://www.fallcreeknursery.com/gard...gardeners_tips

          Most were purchased from Lowes in the Springtime. Good Luck.
          Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

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          • #6
            Hi Erick. This is my 5th year growing BB's in ground. I have Chandler, Reka, Elliot, Blue Ray, Blue Crop, Blue Gold, a half high I can't remember the name of at the moment (which doesn't do that great), Northland, a couple others unidentified which came from an old blueberry farm, and Duke. My favorite? is Duke. It is a nice looking plant, but the flavor of the blueberries is the best to my taste buds. It just has that taste that I think every other blueberry is trying to be. A lot of people cringe at the idea that a commercial cultivar is the best taste, but for me it is. I am in zone 7A. in south Jersey.

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            • #7
              Thanks for all of the great information and links. I'm going to read up on everything and get some plants either this fall or next spring. But either way I'm going to wait until next spring before putting them in the ground. Thanks everyone..
              Kentucky Zone 6b

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              • #8
                Erick, the single most important thing for me was the PH of the soil. I knew that from the outset and it still was what delayed success. You should work on that now to whatever extent possible. For high bush you want between 4.5 and 4.8. If you get that PH everything else will come easy.

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                • #9
                  Ok what did you find was the best way to bring your PH down that low and keep it there. I think that was the biggest problem the last time I tried growing BB's..
                  Kentucky Zone 6b

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                  • #10
                    Well, where I live I have the advantage of naturally having access to leaf mold which contributes organic matter to the soil and also is naturally acidic. Also, my soil is naturally acidic and all around me in my woods grow wild blueberries naturally. Also I have well water which is naturally acidic and generally lacking minerals other than iron. Unfortunately where I decided to grow blueberries was formerly my lawn which I had been liming aggressively for years. So I had to reverse it.

                    Your situation may be entirely different. Many people use sulfuric acid. I don't need to use that so maybe some of these folks can advise you on that. The most important this is know what your soil ph is. Test it. then try to condition it and get it at least down to 5.5 before putting blueberries in it. If you try to do it suddenly though, as in a couple weeks before planting your blueberries, it won't work well. If you get the PH down around 5.5 with good organic content the plant can survive while you continue to drop the ph further. Ammonium sulfate as a source of nitrogen will help drive the ph down further. You can buy that on ebay. Oh yeah, and your water source, you need to understand it well also. Rainwater is best unless your water is naturally acidic.

                    The thing is whatever your soil PH is naturally it will tend to revert to. So, the only way to keep it more acidic is by constantly conditioning it with something acidic. That is why so many people plant blueberries in containers where they use peat moss mixture and they can control things better.

                    Good luck!

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                    • #11
                      The zone info only tells you how cold it gets but says nothing about how hot. I am in your zone but in Texas high plains.Every northern blueberry I have tried has failed except one, bluecrop. They couldn't take the dry heat in summer. I have had no winter death so far on any rabbit eye or southern highbush although they shouldn't grow here. I have lost a powder blue and an ozark blue for no apparent reason in the summer, but have had good success with a wide range of shb and re types. The challenge is finding those that don't bloom too early. I don't know if your summers are closer to zn 7 New Jersey or to mine.

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                      • #12
                        I have had great luck with "Legacy". They are fairly big at maturity, though. I would probably give that variety 5-6 ft. It is hugely productive and does not lose its leaves in the winter. I have used chicken manure and wood shavings on our blueberries, and they are extremely healthy.

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                        • #13
                          Ok thanks for all of the information. This will help me out alot. I guess the biggest problem I see right now is finding out the PH of my soil. I seen a PH meter at lowes the last time I was in there and I should have got it. It was the type of tester that you just stick in the dirt and it has a meter on top. Is this what you all us? Where I am just getting started with bb do you think it would be better for me to start off growing in pots. I seen a video online where he used a type of potting mix that was perfect right out of the bag for bb. Any feed back would be great. Thanks everyone.
                          Kentucky Zone 6b

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                          • #14
                            I never really worried about PH. I planted the young bushes in peat/manure ammended soil and mulched with shavings every year.

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                            • #15

                              save your money on the tester. It wont be accurate anyway. I have had good luck growing in straight peat and mulching with six inches of pine bark chips. Even then I have to topdress with elemental sulphur every year because of pH of water.

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                              • #16
                                Ericaceous compost is lime-free and more acidic than most composts. Plants such as azaleas, heathers, blueberries and camellias cannot tolerate lime and need an acidic soil. Traditionally ericaceous compost was peat-based but peat is damaging to wetlands so I advise using a bark or a bracken-based mix.

                                This is the type of soil that I was looking at getting. Maybe where peat is neutral I could mix it 50/50 or something along those lines.. Thanks
                                Kentucky Zone 6b

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                                • #17
                                  You are planting them in the ground right?
                                  I would dig a little bit to mix the soil at the planting site and send in a sample to your local Ag Extension office for testing.

                                  http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/agr/agr16/agr16.pdf

                                  http://soils.rs.uky.edu/index.php

                                  If you need to add acidifier to your soil, I recommend Espoma Garden Acidifier. It works great here where my native soil is around 6.8 give or take site variance. I like it best because it is ground and then pelletized so it will work into your soil faster.

                                  Ten bucks at HomeDepot.

                                  If you need to lower your planting area pH, follow directions on bag. In addition to the acidifier I like to mix/till into the planting area at least a wheel barrow per bush if I have it of duff raked up from under pine trees along with whatever bog mix you prefer, half a bag of small pine bark chip, and any other soil supplements you like. Then top with a 3-4" layer of small pine bark chips with an additional layer of large pine bark chunks enough to cover the planting area. It would be optimal to do the soil amending this fall, but honestly I've been lucky to do it a month or two before planting every time I have done this. When you go to plant, dig out an area about twice the size and depth of the container or root area of your plant and back-fill with either pure peat(or similar) or a mix of 75%peat/25%amended soil from your planting area. I think the back filling allows the soil to do it's thing before the roots grow beyond the back fill zone and into the soil. I water mine with rain water I collect from rain barrels, unless I'm out of town..then they get Denver's finest until I return. About once a year the leaves may start to look a bit of chlorosis affected, if I see the start of it I sprinkle a handful of acidifier around the drip zone and water in with some organic fertilizer if it's not too late in the growing season, if so just use water to water-in the acidifier. It seems like a lot to do, but it's what works for me in a an area where BB will not grow otherwise.

                                  I have Patriot and Spartan that are 5+ yrs. The Patriot bears more fruit but the Spartan fruit quality is outstanding, I think Spartan would like your zone a bit more than my 5B. I added Elizabeth and another New Jersey variety which the exact name escapes me at the moment. Both grew very well this year despite being planted much later than should have been. We will see how they fair the winter. I will be moving them all to my new place this spring and adding a few more. I think it would be good to have around 6 ft between bushes at a minimum. My older ones I planted 4' apart and they are crowding each other.
                                  Last edited by cis4elk; 12-11-2015, 03:06 PM.
                                  Calvin, Wish list is to finish working on the new house, someday.
                                  Bored? Grab a rake, paint roller, or a cordless drill and come over!

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                                  • #18
                                    Thanks Calvin,
                                    I definitely want to plant them in ground but I wanted to have a plan to lower the PH in the soil before doing so. Because of what you just said, about the process to get your soil PH lower. This is definitely the type of information I was looking for before planting them in ground so it would give them the best chance to be healthy. I planted some at my moms a few years ago and they are not doing well. This is part of the reason I knew I would have to come up with something..
                                    Kentucky Zone 6b

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                                    • #19
                                      Erick, what is the normal PH of your soil without trying to modify it?

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                                      • #20
                                        That's the thing, I haven't had it tested yet.
                                        Kentucky Zone 6b

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                                        • #21
                                          I'm in PA zone 6b, have a smattering of the common HB varieties. Honestly never really noticed a huge difference between them. Some have larger berries, some have smaller, all are good!

                                          Plant them in pretty much pure peat moss, water with rain or distilled water as much as possible, and mulch heavily! And invest in netting if you want eat any of them.
                                          https://www.figbid.com/Listing/Browse?Seller=Kelby
                                          SE PA
                                          Zone 6

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                                          • #22
                                            Erick I'm in SE MI and our soil has a pH of 6.5. Even though slightly acidic keeping it low I found too hard. Even if you amend soil, soon it composts and it's kinda like throwing a ton of salt in Lake Michigan. You're not going to make Lake Michigan salty. I went with raised beds and found that works very well. I mixed peat moss with pine bark fines sold as soil conditioner at a local private nursery. Independent nurseries are the best place to find hard to get items like pine bark fines. I mulch with more pine bark and add sulfur once a year. I use sulfuric acid in tap water or rain water to water. I have had great success. I like to use Holly-tone organic acidic fertilizer and once a month April thru August hit with one teaspoon per gallon of water of Ammonium sulfate. Here is my Chandler plant in raised bed surrounded by strawberries. Fall colors are showing. Photo taken in Sept. 2015
                                            You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 1 photos.

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                                            • #23
                                              Thanks. That's probably what I'm going to do. I was thinking about making small boxes about three feet square and add in what type of soil that would be best. Same as what your talking about but just separating them some. Spring I'm going to get started on clearing some land behind my house and make a orchard with all kinds of different trees. Thanks for everyone's help.😀
                                              Kentucky Zone 6b

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                                              • #24
                                                Mine are 4x4 but 3x3 would work fine. I went 12 inches up. Good luck!

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