And the garden gets bigger…Planting Blueberries

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One good thing about starting out your homestead with a clean slate, is you get to plan where you want things.  We have been here almost a year now and its just now starting to look different with each new addition.  The one bad thing about starting a homestead out of nothing, is all the HARD WORK!  Good thing we have a few helpers :)   We have a black berry patch we put in last fall and a strawberry patch we put in last spring and we have been enjoying the “fruits” of our labour in the form of jam all summer.  We thought we needed to expand on this venture a little further with a blueberry row and grapes in our garden.  More about grapes another day.

First a little about blueberries…

Choosing Cultivars

Choose a variety recommended for your hardiness zone!!!

Site/Soil

Blueberry bushes grow best in a sunny location, but will tolerate partial shade. Blueberries like  loose, well-drained soil.They require acidic soil conditions. A pH reading of 5.0 is optimal. In heavy clay soils plant in a raised bed.

Planting

Plant 3 to 4 feet on center, with a 36 inch buffer on each side of the plant to allow for mulching. Plants should be at the same level that they were in the container.

Mulching

Mulch will significantly increase blueberry bush growth and yield. Decomposing mulch not only helps improve soil structure, but also aids in the nutrient uptake of a blueberry bushes root system. Mulching maintains uniform soil moisture, reduces soil temperature, and control weeds. Always keep mulch around 4 to 5 inches away from the plant itself at least until the plant is rooted well.

Pruning

A good-sized, healthy canopy is needed to support the growth of fruit. Pruning encourages production of large, high-quality fruit, and encourages earlier blooming. Fruit is produced on one-year-old wood. The largest berries are produced on the most vigorous wood, so a good supply of strong, one-year-old wood is desirable. When pruning shape the bush by removing dead and diseased wood. Pruning new bushes is recommended to increase ” production area” of the plants. Shape  of the top of the bush should remind umbrella.  You can do it easily pruning plants in about 2 weeks after picking last berry. Find the tallest wooden branch, measure about 8 inches of the green part of the branch and prune the whole plant flat on this level. Prune the bushes annually. You can stop pruning after You plants are over 7-8 years old, then you just prune dead or damaged branches.

Fertilization

Generally one application in the spring of an acid-producing fertilizer each year will be sufficient. Do not fertilize after the blooming period, late fertilizing will encourage late growth in the fall, which in turn can cause winter injury. Nitrogen usually gives blueberries the greatest growth response. Nitrogen fertilizer requirements increase as the bushes grow older and yields increase.

Watering/Irrigation

Water the blueberry bush frequently enough to keep the soil moist but not saturated. Blueberry bushes need at least 1 to 2 inches of water per week, do not apply water after early September unless soil is very dry. Mulching will help reduce the frequency of watering.

 

Now that you are an expert and excited about putting in you own blueberries, here’s what we did!

These supplies are needed for a 30 ft row of blueberries:

2 bags of Peat Moss

Hoe and Shovel

6 Blueberry plants

1 Bale of hay

1 25 ft. soaker hose.

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Work your ground so it is loose and free of weeds.
  2. Dig your trench 30 ft long and about 2 1/2 foot wide.
  3. Dump out and spread evenly your peat moss.
  4. Cover your peat moss with the dirt you pulled out of the trench.
  5. Evenly space your berry plants and plant them.
  6. Cover with the straw mulch.
  7. Hook up your soaker hose and turn it on!!!
  8. Next June you will be rewarded for all your hard work :)

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