If you are a passionate gardener who loves to grow different types of fruits and vegetables at home for a more natural and healthy living, one of the most important things you need to ensure for a healthy and sustainable yield of your crop is to give it the right nutrition in the most natural of manners; manure, mulch, etc. are the best alternatives for the same. In the following sections, we shall discover the best mulch for blueberries.
- Why Buy Mulch?
- Types of Mulch And Deciding The Right Ingredients
- Tips To Grow The Best Blueberries
- Best Mulch for Blueberries
Why Buy Mulch?
The very first question that surely pops in the mind of every gardener is why should mulch be used, which is difficult to prepare and has less nutritional value, as compared to the readily available fertilizers with significantly higher amounts of nutrients.
Keep in mind that fertilizers are by no means the wrong choice for providing nutrition, but it takes a professional to know and understand the desired quantity for every crop; otherwise the yield is just going to be damaged alongside the environment.
Mulch, on the other hand, being completely natural, carries no such risks with it. Also, remember that you are gardening to have a yield for yourself that is completely natural. So why use chemical and artificial substances! All that aside, mulch offers numerous benefits such as:
- Erosion Control: Mulch can bind the soil and keep it together in one place much better than fertilizers, thus allowing the roots to have a firm grip and derive the maximum nutrients from it.
- Weed Reduction: By blocking light, mulch does not allow weeds to grow at all. If, however, some weeds do sprout somehow, then mulch impairs their growth in a certain manner.
- Moisture retention: Mulch is great at reducing moisture getting escaped through evaporation.
Types of Mulch And Deciding The Right Ingredients
A lot of people have wrong notions about mulch. They just assume or picture it as some kind of manure or something natural that we can use as a source of nutrition or something for the plants.
This assumption is quite fair and accurate but is not completely correct. It does serve as a source of nutrition for crops, but not in a direct manner.
Mulch is a layer of some material applied on bare soil and around plants for improving soil quality and all of the points highlighted before. It is strictly NOT a source of nutrition, but ensures that the same is offered in the best manner possible.
Manure and compost can also be used as mulch, but even still, nutrition is ensured only through the soil. All mulch does is retain and improve soil quality for optimum nutrition.
Having understood what mulch exactly is, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when you get to know that mulch may be both organic as well as inorganic in nature!
Organic mulch, as the name suggests, is composed completely of natural ingredients and thus decays over time. As they break down and decompose, they enrich the soil around them and after some time need to be replaced.
The constituents of the mulch you are planning for your crop depends on factors such as the type of nutrition it needs, the frequency at which it needs the nutrition, the types of weeds associated with its growing, the scent that your mulch exhibits, the weight of the mulch, etc.
In a very general manner, compost may be regarded as the best mulch; however, its rich nutrients give weeds the chance to bloom and blossom and thus creates more problems for you! Some good options to consider as part of your organic mulch are:
- Pine needles
- Cedar blends
- Peat moss
- Bark chips
- Salt hay
Inorganic mulch does not provide any sort of nutrients to the soil but is primarily in charge of keeping the topsoil away from elements that can be harmful to the soil or the crops-elements such as sunlight, wind, excess wind, etc.
Such examples of mulch are man-made and have no need of being replaced or replenished in any manner. They are also available in a bunch of textures and colors, thus giving a more appealing look to your crops.
You may consider using some of the following items as constituents as part of your inorganic mulch:
- Marble Nuggets
- Plastic Sheeting
Tips To Grow The Best Blueberries
Blueberries grow the best in pots and containers. So here are some pointers to help you achieve the best yield of the juiciest and sweetest blueberries you could ask for:
- Blueberries thrive in sandy soils instead of heavy clay soils. Given the fact that they are not drought-tolerant and have poor internal drainage, clay soils cause the roots to decline.
- Blueberries are relatively low maintenance, especially in terms of fertilizers. Opt for fertilizers with nitrogen broken down in the form of urea or ammonium rather than solid nitrogen and apply the same just 2-3 times in a year.
- Blueberries need mulch for healthy growth. It is absolutely vital for them because mulch helps acidify the soil, control weeds, conserve moisture and moderate soil temperature- factors all responsible for healthy growth. You may opt to use any kind of mulch, but just refrain from using barnyard manure because of its high salt content.
Best Mulch for Blueberries
Having understood the importance of mulch for a sustainable yield of blueberries, let us now take quick glances at some of the best mulch alternatives that you should definitely consider to incorporate as part of your growing process:
1. Pine Mulch – 14″long – 200 Sqft
Blueberry bushes thrive in the acidic environment that pine needles are capable of providing.
As pine needles decompose, they provide blueberry bushes a root system that is excellent in quality and capable of extracting the most of the essentials from the soil that has been accentuated in all kinds of vitamins and minerals, thanks again to the pine needles.
Apart from strengthening the bushes and improving soil quality, pine needles are also an excellent choice for keeping all sorts of weeds at bay.
- Long pine needles that can cover a large portion of your pot in once
- An excellent choice for weed control
- Improves soil quality in the best manner possible
- Helps to ensure an excellent yield
- A little expensive
2. Wood-Hawk Aromatic Red Cedar Wood Shavings
Although sawdust/wood shavings are incapable of providing any kind of nutrition to the soil, it has nevertheless been a miracle worker for decades now when it comes to working alongside blueberries.
As discussed, nitrogen fertilizers should not be used with blueberries in its natural form; they can be used in the form of urea or ammonium.
However, at the end of the day, nitrogen is nitrogen and fertilizers being the advocate for enhanced growth, make the soil abundant in nitrogen which ultimately is not good for the blueberry plants.
As such, red cedar wood shavings are one of the best alternatives to pull out all the excess nitrogen in the soil and make it unavailable for use.
However, make sure that you do not allow wood shavings to decompose into the soil for when they do, they enhance its nitrogen content, bringing you back to square one.
- Excellent growth inhibitor
- High quality
- Also repels pests, moths, and other insects
- Available in a variety of quantities
- Look and smell is very fresh
- Even though the price is pretty low, these redwood shavings from Wood-Hawk are not a good value for money as the quantity per the price is quite less.
- The shavings are not pure redwood but some amount of regular wood shavings is also mixed with it.
3. Camerons Smoking Chips
For a moment, sawdust and wood shavings can prove to be a little harsh on the blueberry plants when they are still young due to the presence of tannins.
As such, wood chips are the next best thing to go for because blueberries have shallow roots and do best with mulch that can conserve moisture as well as build organic material at the same time.
Wood chips being continuously solid in nature can retain water better than shavings. Make sure though that the thickness of the wood chips does not go beyond 3 inches because even for all their prowess, wood chips, when decomposed, cause a nitrogen deficiency for the plants.
Either make sure that you replace mulch timely or use wood chips in quantities that don’t get in the way of healthy growth.
- Not harsh on young tenders and plants
- Can prevent the growth of a wide variety of weeds
- Though the branding states it is best suited for barbecues, when deployed as mulch, these wood chips get the work done
- High-quality pieces and splinters of wood
- Excellent quantity
- Value for money
- Susceptible to molds and fungi
4. Fiber Mulch (5 Quarts) Organic Potting Mulch + Hydrating Bag
This fiber mulch does all that is needed from a mulch at a really cost-effective price. It reduces soil compaction and rotting of the roots, thus keeping your plants healthy at all times.
It reduces evaporation to quite an extent, thus reducing the need of water and keeps a considerable amount of light away from soil thus reducing and sometimes eradicating weed growth. The color of the fiber is also quite shiny, so it enhances the look of your plants as well.
- Very lightweight
- Excellent quality
- Easy to hydrate
- Apart from doing the job, it also beautifies the topsoil
- Despite being affordable, not value for money (quantity is too small)
- Needs some weights and chains to balance the weight out
5. Rocky Mountain Tree Mulch Ring Weed Preventer
Having reviewed so many types of organic mulch, it is time we cover one inorganic mulch as well. Even after deploying the best preventive measures for weed control, weeds somehow still manage to find a way to grow.
These rubber rings are there to make sure that they don’t find those ways. A porous design allows water seepage to take place in a very controlled manner thus eradicating the chances of the plant getting spoiled by water.
The texture and material of the rubber also makes it easy to clean and mow. Bearing a considerable weight, it won’t get blown away by the winds and shall stick to where it is installed.
- Recycled rubber is used for manufacturing
- Keeps weeds away
- Considerable weight
- Easy to mow
- Easy to install
- Porous design for proper seepage of water
- Thick and strong
- Design is a bit wonky
- The fumes are a bit strong
And out of the 5 product we have listed, my vote goes for PINE MULCH – 14″LONG – 200 SQFT. It not only improves the quality of soil and gives strength to bushes, but it also keeps weeds away, which is very important for the growth of blueberries.
Pine much makes the soil acidic, which is perfect for the growth of blueberries.