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Blueberry Tip

We’ve been without rain for almost 4 weeks.  There may have been a shower or two at various places, but believe me it’s dry. I’m not set up to water things, but my gardens withstand drought better than most because of the way the beds were originally prepared, the organic matter in the soil, and the mulch.

Everything has done well except for the plants I started late, and even those look pretty good but are not producing as heavily as they normally would.

I mentioned to someone today that I have been picking blueberries everyday since June 12th. I have more than 3 gallons in the freezer for winter and have made pies with another gallon and I’m still picking. They were amazed because someone else they knew who had blueberry bushes said all their berries dried on the bush.

I didn’t think to ask, but I wonder how the ground was prepared for those blueberry bushes. If a hole was dug and the bush planted and that’s it ——then no wonder the berries dried on the bush at the first sign of stress.

If you are thinking of planting blueberries be sure you prepare your soil deeply and add plenty of organic matter.

And in the fall give your the bushes a deep mulch of straw and leaves to feed them.  I mulch them almost a foot deep and all but about 1/2 inch disappears by the early summer. They seem to love the leaves as nourishment.

Blueberries are well suited for the home gardener.  They just require a little attention and they will pay you back with an abundance of fruit and hardiness in times of drought.

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8 comments to Blueberry Tip

  • Gail

    What varieties have you found that work well here in VA? We have clay soil, and though we prepared our beds well with lots of organic material, some of our blueberries have not done well. We had them within 60 feet of a large walnut tree; that may have been the main problem. We moved 5 of the bushes last month, and after a period of “settling in” they are putting out new growth. We want to plant more and are starting the soil prep this summer into fall for planting next spring. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    Peace

    Gail

  • Beppy White

    Hi,
    I am really enjoying your garden hints and info. My blueberries are also doing wonderfully and we have gallons in the freezer from only 4 bushes. Could you give some information on pruning? Mine grow so tall and then droop over with the weight of the berries. Can I prune now after they finish bearing? If not, when is the best time to prune?
    Thanks for any help.
    Beppy

  • Theresa

    Hi Gail —

    Sure was good to see your name in my comments section this A.M. I enjoy hearing from you.

    For the 12 years that I’ve had blueberries I’ve grown the dwarf variety (4 feet x 4 feet) called Sunshine. I ordered from Park Seed.

    Somewhere I read Park was going out of business, but I checked their website before writing this answer and it shows that they still have this variety for sale. They call them Dwarf Blueberry Sunshine Blue.

    Park states in their description that this bush is more tolerant than most of high ph.

    Because of the organic matter I add to my soil the ph is about 6.8 and as I’m sure you have read ——blueberries are not suppose to like that. I’ve always had great berries —— so based on that, Park is right on target.

    I think you would definitely find them worth a try. I’m thinking of getting 4 more of the Sunshine to put in next spring —- just for backup.

    Bet you’ve been getting tomatoes since June! Somebody has to do it Gail!

    I have lots on the vine, but have yet to be near picking. First time I remember that I did not have tomatoes at least by July 4th.

    Best regards,
    Theresa

  • Theresa

    Dear Beppy,

    Sure glad you are enjoying my posts and I am so pleased to have you as a subscriber to TendingMyGarden.

    The best time to do any major pruning is winter. I’m going to cut some small twiggy branches from mine after they finish producing, but any big/older crowns that I want to take out I will wait until mid or late February.

    Must be 20 years ago that I read something about the sap of trees being at its lowest in February. I’ve always assumed this could go for bushes as well. The bottom line is ——I think the tree or bush has a better chance of not sustaining damage if big limbs, branches, or crowns are removed in late winter. I’ve had success with pruning a lot of things this way.

    I’m planning a detailed post on pruning blueberry bushes soon, because I think many folks will want to prune immediately after the fruit is finished and that is just not the best time.

    By the way, Beppy, what state are you in?
    Somehow I get the feeling you are in Virginia or Maryland.

    Glad to hear your blueberries are doing wonderfully and that you have gallons in the freezer from your 4 bushes. It’s a good feeling isn’t it?

    Those pies are going to taste mighty good when the cold winds are blowing.

    Thanks again for your comments and your questions.

    Best wishes,
    Theresa

  • Beppy White

    I am in Madison, VA. Thanks for your quick reply. I look forward to your pruning tips.
    I don’t remember what I planted but they are definitely not dwarf. They would grow 10 feet tall if I let them. I use lots of pine needles to mulch mine and every few years put on horse manure.

  • Theresa

    Hi again Beppy,

    Thanks for letting me know your location.

    You are so fortunate to have access to pine needles. I always loved them as mulch, but no longer can get them.

    Bet those bushes of yours thrive with pine needles and manure.

    My new berries that I planted this year are the high bush varieties, so I know they will get very tall if allowed.
    I’m looking forward to making the comparison.

    Have a great weekend!

    Theresa

  • Sandra

    Those are the most attractive blueberry bushes, I’ve ever seen. No leggy growth at all. Beautiful.

  • Theresa

    Thank you Sandra!

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