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I just ordered some blueberry bushes and wondered where I need to plant them in my garden.
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This is adapted from a similar question answered by Salt Lake County Extension Agent Maggie Wolf. Her answer can be accessed using the following URL: http://extension.usu.edu/htm/faq/faq_q=844
Blueberries are native to areas with acid soil, and that is what they need to thrive. Here in Utah, our soil is at the opposite end of the pH spectrum; we have alkaline soil. Not only that, but our soil has a high buffering capacity (the ability to stay at a relatively constant pH), so even if you add acidifying agents to it, the pH in the soil returns to where it started within a short period of time.
If you must have the freshest blueberries, you should build a raised bed at least six inches to a foot deep, and plant the blueberries in soil containing large amounts of composted organic matter amendments (at least 50% by volume). These are commonly found at local garden centers. Include some native soil in the raised bed soil mix to provide micro-nutrients. Fertilize regularly with an acidifying fertilizer as recommended by the package. These can be purchased from garden centers also. An alternative to acidyfing fertilizers would be to use ammonium sulfate (21-0-0 or 20.5-0-0). It is available in larger bags and sometimes more economical.
Blueberries are delicious, but growing them in Utah is a challenge. If they are grown here, it is by the serious gardening hobbyist who has the time, interest and resources to devote to them. Otherwise, it will be less expensive to buy them from the store and grow other berries more adapted to our climate. Good gardening!
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