Boise Blueberry Conundrum

A cousin of the huckleberry, which is my most favorite berry, is the blueberry. But as a master gardener, I advise against growing them here in the Treasure Valley. I also grow blueberries in my yard. In Boise. What?!

I have three blueberry plants, all different varieties that bear fruit at slightly different times. I get maybe four cups of blueberries total. Just enough for snacking, adding to pancakes and topping salads.

Here’s why growing blueberries is not easy in most of the Boise Valley.

Blueberry plants like acidic, sandy soils, and most of the soils in the Treasure Valley are alkaline and clay-based. Elemental sulfur can be added to the soil to raise the acidity. Acid potting mix in pots is another option. The acidity doesn’t “stay,” in either scenario. It washes away, PLUS, our water tends to be slightly alkaline. More undoing of the special treatment.

I spent years trying to make the conditions better. I gave up about five years ago and told the plants I was going to pull them out in the spring. It seems the threat helped. Ever since, I’ve consistently harvested blueberries without adding anything to the soil. I can’t explain this.

~Debbie

 

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