Type your question here!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Blueberries Won't Grow in the Hot Desert. So... Let's Give it a Try!

Q. I am interested in planting various fruits in my backyard. One that I am curious about is growing blueberries in our region. Do you know how they do here? Would you have any recommendations? I did not realize the varieties of blueberry plants that are out there! In my search I also came across pink lemonade blueberries, I am definitely interested, but I do not want to put forth the effort if they will not be a productive plant in our area.

A. This is the case where your gardening skills are going to be challenged. They are definitely not suited to our climate and definitely not suited to our soils. So let’s give it a try!

This means we have to modify the climate they are in as much as possible and also the soils. Pick a microclimate in your landscape that will be as cool as possible yet still provide 6 to 8 hours of sunlight every day and out of the way of strong winds. This would most likely be an east or north side of a landscape that avoids late afternoon direct sunlight. Find a location or create a location that is protected from prevailing strong winds.

Next, modify the soil. Blend anywhere from half to 2/3 of the existing soil with a good quality compost. To this mix and sulfur that is as finely ground as you can find or in a liquid form. If you are not opposed to it, aluminum sulfate can help lower the alkalinity. It is not used much any more and may be hard to find.

Water the soil thoroughly and let it drain several times before planting. Use only southern high bush blueberries in the planting holes and space them according to the directions. Stake the plants securely in the soil the first season of growth.

You will need pollenizers so make sure you get the correct blueberries together for good fruit set. Drip irrigation can be used or you can flood the area with water from bubblers. Cover the planting area with 3 to 4 inches of wood mulch, keeping the mulch away about 6 inches from stems that enter the soil.

Grow them for one season and see how they do. If you see signs of leaf scorching on the edges you might want to put 30% shade cloth over the top of them to help them a bit from intense sunlight. Every year you should be adding compost and acidifying the soil with finely ground sulfur or aluminum sulfate plus a good fertilizer and a soil applied iron chelate containing EDDHA. This is done in the spring before you see new growth. This should help get you started.

No comments:

Post a Comment