Home gardeners these days are growing more than a few squash and tomatoes. If you wish to attempt growing fruit, blueberries may be your crop of choice. As with many specimens, getting the soil right before planting will result in a more bountiful crop.
Blueberries like their soil acidic, ideally between 4.5 and 5.2 on the pH scale. Fall is the best time to prepare the soil before putting your bushes in the ground in late winter to early spring here in Zone 7.
Since blueberries grow best in such acidic soil, amendments may be necessary to get the correct pH. However, if you are starting with red clay, your soil is likely already in a close range.
Find out for sure with a soil test. Send a sample through your County Extension Agent to determine which amendments you need to correct your soil pH. Some type of sulfur may be required or try peat moss which makes soils more acidic and improves drainage in clay. A peat/sand combination works best in some clay soils.
Successful growth requires well drained soil, so try to accomplish this when working on the site for your blueberry orchard. All amendments should be worked in thoroughly, as putting the bushes directly into this matter may result in unhappy bushes.
Wait about four months before planting. Another soil test will tell if your amendments have succeeded in lowering the pH. If not, additional sulfur can be applied sparingly at this time. Rapid adjustment of soil is not good for the bushes.
Necessary pH will also depend upon the type of bushes you are planting, which will, in part be determined by your location within the Zone. Local nurseries usually carry stock that is correct for your area, if in doubt ask your extension agent.
When choosing the location for your blueberry bushes or an entire orchard, try to site them in full sun. While they will produce in as little as four hours daily, this will decrease crop yield.
When your plants bear fruit, be sure to save some for a naturally sweet snack, and to use in muffins or cobblers. Freeze whatever is left, for use during holiday dinners, or whenever you get the urge for a healthy fruit of which you are now a grower!