We use to have a lot more access to pine needles where we use to live. I could use tons of them if I could still get them. Fortunately, for the last couple of years Bill has been able to find a place where he can get a small truck load of them. And that amount will probably be just enough for my blueberries inside the garden .
Replenish Organic Matter each Fall
It always amazes me how much organic material I pile around my blueberries every fall. A least a foot deep if not more. By late July or August — all but a thin 1/4 inch is gone. Oxidized — decayed — kaput —!
I’ve already put leaves around them this week and with this nice layer of pine straw to go over that —- my bushes will be well fed and happy. And as you know — I don’t water —- so I also need all this nice mulch and organic matter to help maintain the moisture level around the berries all year.
Example of Results
We had drought in April last year — which is rare. Then we had another 6 weeks of drought in mid-summer — which is usual. In spite of that, the berries still gave me a bumper crop — although at one point towards the end of the season — I thought they were going to quit on me about two weeks ahead of time. Fortunately, we had just enough rain to keep them going. (I pick blueberries for 7 to 8 weeks each year.)
As I have mentioned in previous posts, blueberries don’t like any competition —- even from the most simple of things —- like Arugula that has a strong tap root, a flower with roots like Rudbeckia, or invasive tree roots.
The roots of blueberries stay pretty close to the top of the soil. If you’re the kind who does a lot of cultivation around your plants (I don’t find this necessary at all) — be careful not to disturb the roots of your blueberry plants.
Worth Another Mention
I’ve mentioned this several times in the past, but it’s worth repeating.
You’ll read a lot online about how blueberries prefer acid soil and won’t grow in any other. I am sure that somewhere in the world that might be true, but fortunately no one ever told my blueberry bushes about it.
My soil ph is about 6.7 to 6.9 and has been since it was improved years ago. That is FAR from acid. Closer to neutral.
I’ve lost bushes to root competition — but never to improper soil ph. And I’ve grown blueberries for 14 years.
And NO — pine needles do not make the soil acid. Organic material that decays into organic matter raises the soil ph.
My Sunshine blueberries in the garden don’t need a lot of pruning but they do need some. Right after the berries finished at the end of July I cut out the dead wood and trimmed a few branches that needed it.
My old bushes are still doing great but I planted more backup bushes this spring. I’ll be anxious to see the growth this coming spring brings.
Blueberries are so easy and rewarding. Having blueberries in my freezer to get me through the dead of winter is big living in my book.
If you like blueberries and you don’t have a bush or two —- what are you waiting for?!
Organic Gardening is easy, effective, efficient —- and its a lot healthier.
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