Preparing The Soil For Blueberries
You need to make sure your soil will support blueberries BEFORE you plant your blueberries. We strongly suggest setting up a raised bed two to three feet wide and as long as your berry bushes will require when spaced properly. You should amend the soil in the raised bed with Canadian sphagnum peat moss, compost, and some chopped leaves if you have them
Finely shredded pine bark is also good.
If the pH of the soil is between 5.5 and 7.0, and the texture is sandy to sandy loam, the addition of acidic peat is all that will be needed to prepare the soil. If the soil is clay then you need to double the amount of organic matter you add. Mix 4 to 6 inches of Canadian sphagnum peat moss (not peat sedge called Michigan peat) and compost into the top 6 to 8 inches of soil. In addition to acidifying the soil, the peat increases the soil organic matter content.
With the possible exception of the first year to get started, we don’t recommend trying to reduce your soil’s pH with chemicals such as garden sulfur; it is a complicated process and your blueberries need to have good acidic soil for 50 years; soil treated chemically has to be treated every year.
Blueberries grow best in a sunny location. Full sun is desirable but up to 50% shade is usually acceptable. However, yield is reduced with increasing shade, so plant in a sunny location to achieve maximum yield.
Plant young 2 to 3 year old blueberry bushes in late April or early May, spacing them 3 to 4 feet apart. Dig the holes in your raised bed large enough to accommodate all the roots and deep enough so you can cover the uppermost roots with 3 to 4 inches of soil. Do not place any fertilizer in the planting hole.
Pack the soil firmly around the roots, then mulch the planting with 2 to 4 inches of chopped leaves, aged sawdust, finely shredded pine bark, or straw. Surface mulch helps maintain uniform soil moisture and good soil structure, it reduces soil temperature in the summer, and most important it feeds the critters below the soil in the soil food web. Replenish the mulch as needed to keep the bed covered 365 days a year.
Three to four weeks after planting, apply a half cup of a granular organic fertilizer (e.g. 10-10-10) around the base of the plant. Organic equivalents, such as bloodmeal or composted manure, may also be used. Apply the fertilizer in a circle 10 to 12 inches from the base of the plant.