The last few days I have been working on a garden bed for two future high bush blueberry plants. This was the toughest project so far, in terms of physical stamina. I was following the guideline of Michael Phillips in the Holistic Orchard. His first step is to dig a bed one foot deep and 3-4 feet in diameter per plant, (so for me that meant about 7-8 feet long and 3-4 feet wide).
Once I had dug the hole, I came upon bittersweet roots, so then spent some time strategizing about what to do for that. I eventually decided to clip them off where they emerged, and then line the sides of the hole with cardboard. Since I was also making paths around the bed, I bent the cardboard so that it covered the path as well.
Then, the next steps are to fill the hole with 50% peat moss, 40% soil from that you had taken out, and 10% compost. Peat moss is somewhat controversial (because of environmental questions raised about its extraction), but I did some reading and learned that the percent of peat moss taken in Canada is very tiny compared to the amount of peat moss bogs they have–so in that context it might be considered renewable. I had to go back to the store to get more stuff, because it was hard to estimate how much I would need.
And it is a lot of work to dig out a hole, then fill it with other stuff, and then “stir” it around, which really means turn the soil over and over. I am glad I only have to do it once. So I would do what digging I could, and then stop and rest for most of the day, and return to it in the evening if I could. After the peat moss, soil, & compost mix was in, I added 2 cups elemental sulfur, 4 cups green sand, and 2 cups rock phosphate, all organic nutrients. This whole mix is meant to create the type of soil that blueberries love, with an acid leaning ph, and the nutrients they need. (You may notice that I purchased more composted manure, because we used up our big pile.)
I topped it off with a few inches of pine bark mulch that is also good for blueberries, and then some pine needles that Margy had collected last year. After that, I hauled the rest of the unused sandy soil over to our materials area, and did the paths around the bed with more cardboard and hardwood mulch. And watered all of it well. Now it is all ready to do its own thing for several months: the plan is to plant blueberries in the spring.