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PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2010 1:28 pm 

Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2003 3:34 pm
Posts: 8
Location: Plano
This question might be better served in a blueberry-growing forum, but here goes:

One of my neighbors has a huge bald cypress at the border of his yard. Of course, at the moment it's truly bald. I've been scooping up the needles/leaves and putting them on my veggie beds as protection against the recent freezing temps. (They work great, btw.)

My questions: can I eventually either compost or grind these needles up and use them as part of a low-pH container potting mix for blueberries? Are they a good source of acidity? I bought two small bb shrubs recently ('Premier' and 'Climax') and would like to resist using the oft-advised peat moss mix for them to raise the soil's acidity.

If this IS a good idea, is composting them first better than just mixing the needles into the rest of the soil? I'm planning on using composted pine bark mulch and expanded shale in large half whiskey barrels at this point. Any advice is appreciated...thanks!

PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2010 2:37 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jul 02, 2003 8:09 pm
Posts: 1881
Location: Fort Worth,TEXAS
I grew up in the Pacific Northwest with wild blueberries and huckleberries. They like well-drained acid soil, and they come into disturbed areas (like after forest fires) where there is still duff on the ground. I think the bald cypress, while not found in the PNW, might be a good contributor here. I would mix in pine needles as well.

What I understood about the acid soil in the Northwest is that the ground cover (duff, composed of a lot of types of evergreen needles) is slow to break down, but as it does, the carbon dioxide generated from the slow breakdown makes carbonic acid (like in soda pop) and filters into the soil. I'm sure this is way simplified, and I suspect that there is a lot of material that would work to increase the acidity of the soil. Be sure the blueberries don't have wet feet. As much as they like a lot of moisture, they won't want to stand and rot in it.

I think rule of thumb to follow would be that whatever soil azaleas like, blueberries are also going to like.


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