I live in riverton and want to plant triple crown blackberries and dwarf northblue blueberries. Do you have any suggestions or help?



Riverton, typically, has heavy clay soil. Many areas there also have high salt accumulations due to poor drainage (and a history of flood irrigation). However, there are some pockets of sandy soil in some places. Before buying plants, I recommend you collect a representative soil sample and send it to the USU Analytical Lab for a "routine" soil test ($14 fee). You can read instructions about how to collect the sample and download a soil test order form from www.usual.usu.edu. Test results will be sent directly to you and also to our office; if you have questions about the recommendations I will be happy to answer them for you.

Blackberries are much more tolerant of Utah soil than blueberries, but if you are determined to grow blueberries, it can be done. Here is a good website with links to reliable information on growing berries: http://www.hort.usu.edu/html/fruits/berries.htm.

If your soil is typical Riverton soil (heavy clay, low organic matter, poorly drained, high pH, possibly high in salts) I would recommend you build a raised bed to grow your berry crops. A raised bed of about 12 to 18 inches above normal soil grade, amended with high-quality, low-salt compost, will provide the proper drainage both crops prefer. In the blueberry bed, add elemental sulfur to lower the pH. You will need to continue acidifying the soil in the blueberry bed year after year, because Utah soil is high in calcium carbonate and buffers the acidification; the pH will rise back to previous levels within one or two months. Read more about soil pH at http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/soils2n.pdf.

After you build the blueberry bed and incorporate soil amendments, send in another soil sample and specify that you intend to grow blueberries. Then add sulfur according to the test result recommendations so that the pH of the soil will be more suitable.

I hope this helps you get started towards berry success!
Good gardening!

Posted on 28 Mar 2008

Maggie Wolf
Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

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