The Making of a Blueberry Field
So after many hours of augering the field was ready for peat moss. The peat moss created an acidic environment, provided organic matter, and was a good water retainer in times of low moisture. Our then ten year old son was very helpful in opening bags of peat moss while we poured a quarter of each bag into every hole. After the peat moss was distributed we dumped the moss into the holes and then rototilled the strips once again. And finally we were ready for planting. It took us over a week to plant all the blueberries by hand. After a week of nice rain we filled up the ol' dump truck and mulched the field with 1-2 year old wood chips.
By May of 2009, all of the blueberries were fully leafed out and some were flowering. The flowers were painstakingly removed to allow all the energy of the plant to go into root establishment their first year. In 2010, the plants were allowed to bloom and bear fruit. We picked approximately 300 pounds of blueberries our first year!
After much reading, planning, and decision making, we ordered our blueberry plants in the fall of 2007. We ordered 1200 two year old dry root plants that were approximately 18-24 inches tall. They arrived on Easter morning in 2009. But prior to their arrival much preparation needed to be done.
The field where we planted our blueberries was an old alfalfa and grass field. But blueberries are not like alfalfa. Blueberries require a very acidic soil environment. In fact, blueberries thrive in a soil pH of less than 5.0 (preferably 4.5). Alfalfa thrives at a pH of 6.0. That doesn't sound like much of a difference but for each number on the pH scale there is a ten-fold difference in acidity. That means blueberries like a pH ten times more acidic than alfalfa does. So we had to change the pH prior to our plants' arrival.
As soon as we could enter the field in the spring of 2009 we measured and laid out our rows. We used our John Deere 2210 with the JD 450 rototiller to make four foot strips every nine feet and approximately 200 feet long. We then marked the rows at four foot intervals so that the 16 inch auger would accurately drill out the planting holes.