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Blueberry planting and possible freezing

 
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I haven't yet seen an answer to this, despite reading for several hours today... Rabbitholes, I can get sucked down them, "ooh, hey, peach trees!"

I impulse bought blueberries yesterday (At Walmart, I know....) I think they are bare root, they all have a few leaves. Can I put them out now, knowing I still have some more freezing, and possibly snow again? If not, I'll dig their holes and add peat moss and all that, and pot the bushes till they get in their holes.

it's currently March 4, and although it warmed up 2 days ago, I'm not thinking it's spring quite yet. I'm expecting it to chill back down once this front moves through. Zone 6 right on the A/B line in southern Missouri
 
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I'm not sure specifically about blueberries other than to say that mine have budded out through some light freezes with no damage.

I bought a lot of bareroot stuff this year (grapes, pomegranate, goumi berry, blackberry, nanking cherry). I opted to pot them up and put them in a cold frame (shut on cold nights, open during the day). They are doing very well. I did plant some directly,  which did get hit with light freezes, but don't know yet how they did.
 
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Pearl,

I don’t suppose you know the variety do you?  The variety makes a big difference.  If I had to guess, my bet would be bluecrop.  That is a common commercial variety and as a rule does well in cold climates.  It will likely work for you as well if you take care of it as I am sure you will.

Eric
 
Pearl Sutton
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One each: Misty, Legacy, Patriot, Blue Ray, Blue Crop
 
Eric Hanson
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Nice little mix.  Not at all surprised blue crop was in the mix.  Around me, Southern Illinois, zone 6, we are regularly told that winter is actually the very best time to plant.  Our winters are typically mild (certainly this one) and the ground does not freeze to any significant degree.

If you live in a similar zone I would say go for it.  True, the foliage might not do much but much more important is the root system.  If your ground is thawed, the roots should be able to begin to get established.  And winter is a great time as the plant won’t be trying to waste any energy on its foliage while getting the roots rooting into the ground.

By the time spring comes around the roots will be at least partially established and your blueberries should be healthier than waiting and planting in springtime.

Good Luck,

Eric
 
Pearl Sutton
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Eric: thank you for helping me, I have never done blueberries, I'm from the desert, zone 8/9B... HOT and DRY. Never wasted money on berries. Did you see that they all have a few leaves showing? I wanted to be sure the ones I bought were alive... Does that change it?
I just dug out 5 pots in case I'm potting them tomorrow. If I pot them, it'll be so they have a dirtball that moves with them intact.

And yeah, it was a nice little mix! That's why I said "oooh!!!" and snagged them. A display that was 5.00 each or 10 if there were two types in a bag. I got a good spread of fruiting times.
 
Eric Hanson
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Pearl,

No problem!  Just so I understand, will these be living in pots or in the ground?  If they will live in pots, then you can pretty much do as you please as you can always move pots around (though the bigger ones will get plenty heavy.  If they are going to live in the ground, they can get all goodness that only the earth can give.

You might need to alter the Ph of the soil but that is perfectly doable.  Once you have the Ph to your liking you should be in pretty good shape.  Regarding the foliage on your plants, I probably would also have picked them just because they looked healthy.  I don’t think having leaves already is going to hurt things.  But getting that root ball healthy is critical.  I would try to get as much ph appropriate compost as possible on, above, near, etc. that root mass as possible.

Let me know if you have any questions,

Eric
 
Pearl Sutton
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These will be living in the ground. And leaves was the only way I could tell if they were healthy, stuff at Walmart is always iffy. It's not the best place to buy plants.  Planning to add peat moss etc to the soil, it's decent already, but since it's wet enough to amend, I will. Some of my plants at other times were planted when the ground was so hard they hardly got enough root space, I couldn't dig. These will have root room and amendments because I can dig right now.

If it freezes again (which I'm pretty sure it will) and the leaves drop will they survive?
 
Eric Hanson
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Pearl,

BTW, getting a harvesting spread from your mix is/was a great idea!  Ideally you could possibly get a continuous blueberry harvest throughout the growing season.

I have some blueberries of several varieties, including some of the varieties you mentioned.  Unfortunately, after I got them established I got struck with some health issues and tending to my fruit patch was low on the list of priorities.  Most of my blueberries survived to today and are doing well but have a single problem—trees nearby (mostly honey locust) are shading the blueberries and they are growing crooked looking for light.

But if I just get my butt in gear the remaining bushes should do just fine.

Eric
 
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I bought these blueberries from Walmart as well (mine were Climax, Legacy and one other) We are in zone 7, so I’m guessing a bit late to get them sold because they were $2.50 a piece! But, I’m well aware that they probably won’t survive 😅 I potted mine in 5 gallon buckets. Potting soil/compost/peat moss blend. I put them on the slope where they will eventually be planted, should they survive. I also read to prune them by 1/3 on each node and get rid of any leaves or buds. So I did that. That part was scary. I hope we both have great success with our Walmart bargain berries!
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Cookie White
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Pearl,
How have your berries gotten along?
 
Pearl Sutton
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Hi Cookie! Welcome to Permies!
Mine are still in pots, doing well. Freeze warning again tonight. I take them out in the sun every day I can. Their planting location plans have changedwith the CV, they'll be in the garden I'm putting in at this rental for the year, worry about moving them next year.

Did you drill holes in those buckets? They need to drain....

Hope we all have berries! Mine keep blooming, but dropping them. they want to produce :D
 
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I did drill holes. I have transplanted mine into a Ruth Stout style hedgerow. They still look alive so, here’s hoping 🤞🏼
 
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I've had bad luck with blueberries. Here's the two things that killed mine:

A) They need *well* draining soil, but simultaneously love damp soil (I had mine on drip irrigation), and are very shallowly rooted (so they can't get water from down deep). I dug huge holes (3' deep, 2' wide) in my claylike soil, and planted them in great soil, but they'd drown because it'd basically become a clay bowl of water in heavy rains.

B) My next batch I mounded the dirt up more, to keep their roots above the water level in heavy rains, but they also need *very* acidic soil, and mine's way too alkaline. I tried supplementing their soil with acidifiers, but even my *water* is too alkaline.

However, I haven't given up hope! I intend to really focus more on acidifying my soil in the future, in a dedicated garden bed instead of planting them in the ground. I hear apple mash is great for them, as it's slightly acidic and also Blueberries love organic matter. My apple trees are just reaching old enough to fruit, this will be their second fruiting year, so I intend to try blueberries again in the fall.
 
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Those black buckets may get too hot this summer. I used black feed tubs one year, and my plants didn’t do well at all.
 
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Ken W Wilson wrote:Those black buckets may get too hot this summer. I used black feed tubs one year, and my plants didn’t do well at all.



Thanks Ken,
I have transplanted them into the soil now, I was just using the buckets as an emergency starting container when I found them on sale.
 
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Jamin Grey wrote:t even my *water* is too alkaline.



You should use rain water in this case.

Also if they are drowning, a frensh drain is the way to go,
maybe even putting coarse gravel underneath the plants.
 
Jamin Grey
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R. Han wrote:

Jamin Grey wrote:even my *water* is too alkaline.


You should use rain water in this case.



I don't get enough rain consistently to water things on it's own (I get a decent amount, but concentrated at specific times of the year).
If I store rain in a barrel or even just in an open-topped bucket, long-term (say five months), does it lose it's acidity?
 
Pearl Sutton
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Jamin Grey wrote:

R. Han wrote:

Jamin Grey wrote:even my *water* is too alkaline.


You should use rain water in this case.



I don't get enough rain consistently to water things on it's own (I get a decent amount, but concentrated at specific times of the year).
If I store rain in a barrel or even just in an open-topped bucket, long-term (say five months), does it lose it's acidity?


No, it does not change pH if it's stored. (Unless something is leeching out of the container.)

There are other fruits that are not so acid dependent. Might be worth looking them up, seeing if you like any of them. Depends on your climate too. In New Mexico, incredibly alkaline soil, very high heat, I could do goji berries.
 
Pearl Sutton
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The blueberries went in a bit over a week ago, the leaves are turning red, burgundy, actually. Is this normal?
The peat moss I put in there may not have rotted down yet...

Strawberries by them look normal.
 
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Hmm...  That happens in the fall...

...I hope it rests itself to real time. I had a mistreated apple bloom in early fall when I planted it. Come spring it behaved as normal.

 
Pearl Sutton
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As far as I can tell, otherwise they look healthy, growing and all. Strawberries look fine.

 
And now I present magical permaculture hypno cards. The idea is to give them to people that think all your permaculture babble is crazy talk. And be amazed as they apologize for the past derision, and beg you for your permaculture wisdom. If only there were some sort of consumer based event coming where you could have an excuse to slip them a deck ... richsoil.com/cards
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