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Don Kinzler, Published March 14 2014

Fielding questions: Sulfur can help raise soil acidity

Q. How would you suggest using coffee grounds to improve the soil for my blueberry bushes? They are newer bushes that haven’t produced more than a few berries so far.

– Butch Fangsrud, Moorhead

A. As you know, blueberries require acid soil, and most area soils are the opposite – alkaline. Theoretically we should get a soil test to determine the pH and then treat accordingly.

To acidify the soil, quantities of organic matter should be dug in at planting time. Compost, peat moss and coffee grounds give a base to start the acidifying process.

Organic matter by itself usually won’t lower acidity enough to make blueberries happy but should be used in combination with sulfur, which is available at garden centers.

Attempting to convert prairie soil to acid is an ongoing process. Our alkaline soil “eats up” the acidity and neutralizes it over time.

For your established blueberries, scatter coffee grounds around the plants and work them into the soil. Coffee grounds vary in acidity but are a good source of organics along with continued use of acidifying sulfur.

Q. From reading your columns, I know you are concerned about the decline in bee populations, and we hope you can join us at Honey Happenings from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Plains Art Museum in Fargo.

– Amy Richardson, Fargo

A. Thanks for sending information about an interesting program, and I’m looking forward to attending.

Honey Happenings is a forum featuring pollinator experts, honey product sampling, bee-inspired art projects and other fun related activities.

Area beekeepers, extension agents and others will discuss ideas to support the revival of pollinator populations and provide insight into beekeeping, local honey production, and bee-friendly gardens.

Museum staff will introduce plans for adding pollinator gardens on the museum grounds.

It’s free and open to the public. Plains Art Museum is located at 704 1st Avenue North, Fargo. And no, I won’t come dressed as a honeybee.


If you have a gardening or lawn care question, email Don Kinzler at ForumGrowingTogether@hotmail.com. Questions with broad appeal may be published, so please include your name, city and state for appropriate advice.