Friday, January 12, 2007

Soil pH for Blueberries

Brian of Glenville writes:
I will be planting some blueberry bushes this spring. The Cornell site says it needs to be acid soil. Can I test the soil now (January)? What's the best/cheapest way to test?
In most cases the soil in the Northeast is acid in nature due to the lack of limestone in the ground. But there are always exceptions to the rule. You can take a soil test anytime the soil is not frozen. Simply dig down about four inches and scoop a couple tablespoons of soil into a plastic baggie. You can test the pH of the soil yourself with a soil test kit you can buy at your favorite lawn and garden center or buy online. Or, you can take your soil, even mail it in many cases, to your county cooperative extension office. In New York, that is Cornell Cooperative Extension of Albany County or Dutchess County, for instance. They will test the soil for you and probably charge a nominal fee of a few dollars. Often times they will tell you how to amend the soil in case the pH is not where it should be for what you want to plant. Call ahead to make sure they can handle your request.
Good luck with your blueberry bushes!


annie said...

I'd like to put blueberries in - how soon should I do it? Also, there is a coffee shop down the street that gives away organic grounds. I've been planning to work that in about 10 gallons of it into the soil for each bush and then top dress with it. I don't really have any idea how much I should use. I definitely don't have very acidic soil. Could I be in danger of over-doing the coffee grounds for blueberries (or strawberries or that matter)?

Larry Sombke said...

Annie: Now is a good time to plant blueberry bushes. Anytime in spring is good. Before you add anything, get a soil test done at your cooperative extension office. Coffee grounds are a good way to add organic matter to the soil and change the soil ph level. Here is a good bulletin to read before you plant blueberries.
Also this one,