I understand that my blueberry bush loves acidic soil and that it is best to water with rain water as opposed to tap water which has too much lime and rasies the pH of the soil (which should be low for acidic conditions). Especially in London where we have “hard” water i.e. high in lime.
Unfortunately, it’s not too easy for me to obtain rainwater from my balcony as it doesn’t get much rain due to the balcony sheltering it above. Plus, what if it doesn’t rain that much during the summer!
I’ve heard that you can add things to tap water to make it more acidic such as vinegar. I was wondering if anyone knows about this or already does it and if so, how successful have you found it? How much should I add to water? Should I add a specific type of vinegar? Is there any other substance I can buy to add to my tap water to acidify it?
I don’t know about adding anything to your tap water, but garden sulfur will increase the acidity of your soil. There’s a discussion of garden sulfur in this thread.
Mulching with pine needles would also help lower (acidify) pH; I’m sure there are other organic mulches that would do this but none spring to mind.
Your tap water may be hard but are you sure that your soil is non-acidic? I live in the Pacific Northwest, which gets a lot of rain — about as much as parts of England, I hear — our climates are very similar. Lots of annual rain make soil acidic because the water leaches out the nutrients (lime and so on)….there are other factors, of course; most of the stone that eroded to make the “dirt” portion of our soil is basaltic rock rather than sedimentary limestone.
Hi Ves – my blueberry bush is actually in a pot of ericaceous soil, so the soil level should be ok. I’m just worried that watering it with tap water will start to neutralise the pH. Unfortunately, the balcony all my plants are on don’t receive that much rain (if any!) as there is a balcony above sheltering it.
Farmette – I’m off to a local nursery tomorrow so I might see what products they’ve got to keep the acid in my soil high.
Thanks for the comments guys :)
Used coffee grounds adds acid to the soil, as do oak leaves. My grandfather used to tell me to put them in with my azalea bushes for that reason.
I bought a special organic fertilizer for acid-loving plants and gave that to my blueberries as a top-dressing. Now I just need to find some pine needles that aren’t redwood so I can mulch them. We have mostly redwoods on our property, and apparently they have something in their pine needles that inhibits growth, that’s how they reduce competition. So I need to find someone with a bunch of pine trees and no redwoods so I can come steal some mulch!
I water them with spring water from a spring box that’s situated in a ravine on our property. I should test its pH, I never realized the water could be such an issue. The blueberries seem to be thriving though, so I guess they can’t be too unhappy!