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blueberries

 
Brenda Groth
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well the mail order blueberies that I put in didn't do so well..only one has leaves on it..i know the soil is good and is acid..just think they are crappy plants..

well today I went to a store and they had huge blueberry plants on sale for $5.00 each..so i got 4..don't want to get too many as i will be replacing the ones that didn't grow here ..asap..but i planted these between the stubs of the ones that SHOULD be growing..and one even has a few little baby green berries on it.

these were all different "names" than the ones i had bought..so if i get mine replaced or growing..i'll have great crosspollination..they were Duke, Earliblue, Dawson and one didn't have a name..just Blueberry.

they were a couple feet tall and wide already..in good sized pots..so i think they'll take right off and do well..

still have to replace some other things from mail order that died..and a few locals that didn't make it either..but today i also replaced my waterlilies..they were good about replacing them and even opened the packages to make sure they were growing this time..

one more step in the right direction..also put 3 new baby evergreens in my cove and transplanted 3 maple and 1 ash seedling..

I LOVE SUMMER
 
paul wheaton
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I think there is a lot to be said for some varieties will do better in your area than others. 

At the same time, it seems that if you are babying them, there should be a way ... 

Were the old ones from a local nursery that was propagated locally?  Or was it possibly trucked in from far, far away?
 
Susan Monroe
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I have mail ordered plants in the past, and just the difference in climate seemed to be too much for them.  North Carolina to Washington State.

But some places just send crappy plants or plants in poor condition.  One big offender was Mellinger's.  Most of their plants arrived in soil that was absolutely BONE DRY dust.  Some of their plants came as dead, dry sticks.  Even a tree came "pre-killed".  I complained about that, and they did replace it... with the ugliest, most distorted, twisted thing I've ever seen, again in dry soil, but it did survive.  Ugly, but alive... such an improvement.

There is a site called Garden Watchdog (at Dave's Garden:  http://davesgarden.com/products/gwd/ ) [free] that rates 6,851 garden-based mail order companies.

But locally grown plants are usually best.  Big Box stores tend to be poor.

Sue

 
Brenda Groth
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the mail order ones were "mailed" in of course..and only one got leaves at all..i have written for replacements..didn't know about Daves..page..on mail order garden centers.

Sometiems I have good success with things I buy mail order..the local garden center here went out of business..that grew things locally..the other closest ones are a long way away.

the blueberries that I did find on sale that were growing well WERE big box..they were at Walmart..hopefully they will do ok..

My cousin does own a local nursery..but it is very small..and doesn't carry much in the way of edibles..mostly edibles are annuals like tomatoes or fruit trees..and that is about it..and his fruit trees run $40 and up each..which is kinda high price..not the best selections either..the only way to get the selections you want here in N MICH is to mail order or go without
 
Leah Sattler
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I am really hesitant to mail order anything. I like to put my hands on everthing and do my own inspection before forking over any money. the big box stores seem to have healthier plants and more variety than the nurseries here! even then I tend to be very picky. And as sue pointed out the climate change can really get them.

brenda - sorry about your blueberries is it possible they just went dormant as a protective measure and maybe they will come back from the roots?

I ahve been putting off mail ordering an aisan pear. its the only way though, I'm certainly not going to find one of those around here! I get so annoyed. it seems like there are so many useless, weak, stinky, bradford pears for sale and so few really usefull trees.
 
Brenda Groth
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it is so sad to see the few local nurseries we have going out of business..most of them are just older people that are tired of doing it any more and want out..my cousin went through the last two years of reconstructive surgery after losing his wife in a car accident on the way home from work..so his nursery business is also suffering..he'll be lucky to keep it open a few more years..he can barely move.

but even the nursery businesses that remain have to limit what they carry..with the bad economy ..so they carry "name brands" that sell..rather than the antiques and old fashioned plants that I prefer..

so in order to get a varitety i HAVE to mail order..or drive a several hundreds of miles..
 
Ken Peavey
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You can take cuttings from blueberry plants, they will take root and grow to be clones of the parent.  Find a branch with at least 6 inches of new growth-the stem will be green, not woody.  Strip off the lower inch of leaves, shove it in a pot filled with topsoil, compost, vermiculite, perlite, whatever you use.  Keep the cuttings in a well lit spot out of direct sunlight.  Keep the soil moist but not wet-like a wring out sponge.  If you have a spray jug, mist the plants frequently for the first week.  If the plants survive for a month they have taken root.  Transplant anytime up to a month before the first frost.

Same method works with all bramble fruit, rosemary, thyme, oregano.  I'm still finding out what will work this way.
 
                              
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kpeavey wrote:
You can take cuttings from blueberry plants, they will take root and grow to be clones of the parent.  Find a branch with at least 6 inches of new growth-the stem will be green, not woody.  Strip off the lower inch of leaves, shove it in a pot filled with topsoil, compost, vermiculite, perlite, whatever you use.  Keep the cuttings in a well lit spot out of direct sunlight.  Keep the soil moist but not wet-like a wring out sponge.  If you have a spray jug, mist the plants frequently for the first week.  If the plants survive for a month they have taken root.  Transplant anytime up to a month before the first frost.

Same method works with all bramble fruit, rosemary, thyme, oregano.  I'm still finding out what will work this way.


I have not tried this with blueberries yet.  I have tried it with rosemary, wasn't all that successful.  I've been far more successful layering rosemary to get the buried stem to root and then cut that off already rooted and plant elsewhere.
I've used the aquaponics system for rooting cuttings of meyer lemon and bamboo, that has been quite successful.

I just got a bunch of blueberry plants from a local place (they have blueberry fields and sell produce and blueberries and occasionally have plants to sell.)  It is rather nice to be able to buy plants from a place growing them commercially near by so I can get pretty accurate advice for growing the varieties they are selling in my climate.

I have not been happy most of the times I break down and buy plants from mail order companies.  Most of them have warranty or return policies but it is just a pain to deal with, I'd rather get plants that survive in the first place.
 
Brenda Groth
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wow this was an old post resurrected..i ended up finding a great source for nice blueberry plants and i put several of them in last summer..they really grew well..and i expect maybe a small crop this next summer off of them.

i mulched them well with composted manure, bark, pine needles, wood chips and shreeded cardboard..

we'll see how they fare next year..
 
Ken Peavey
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Pine needles will do well for blueberries.  They love acid soil.
 
                              
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The local grower where we got our plants said oak leaves were great mulch for them too and they recommend azalea fertilizer for them (if you were going to buy bagged fertilizer that is) But basically saying what is good for azaleas is apparently good for blueberries.
 
Ken Peavey
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I've got azaleas all around this house, a big oak in the corner.  I've chopped down the azaleas to stumps, they've grown right back.  I had 2 blueberry plants but when I came back from NY, I discovered that someone else must have needed those plants more than I did.  I'll have to get some more and start over.

 
                              
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The guy where I got my blueberries said plant in Full sun.  He also mentioned to plant them away from foundations and any other concrete since they like acid soil and the concrete affects the pH too high for too long.

I've had people complain about their blueberries never thriving and how they can't keep the soil acid enough for them and never even realize that it was the sidewalk, foundation or driveway that was actually giving them the problem.

The Mother in laws blueberries don't do all that much but they are planted in the shade so a few hand fulls of berries is all she expects from them a year.
 
Brenda Groth
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fortunately i live in a high acid soil area and we don't have a lot of concrete or rubble in our area..we also make sure that the plants where we have acid soil do not get any of the wood ash or char that we sprad on the garden..or any lime or gypsum..

also our berries are in full sun..but we do have some small nut and fruit trees planted north of them..which will provide them some windbreak in the future when they grow..(apple, wild plum, paw paw, sweet chestnut, and hardy pecan)..

this will be the first year for the blueberries as they all went in in the summer time here..there is also a patch of horseradish that i hope doesn't take over the blueberries..it accidentally got "tilled" by  my son the year before..i told him not to till that section but oh well he did.

horseradish is invasive from root bits

 
paul wheaton
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How acid is the soil?

Do you have a pH meter?

 
Brenda Groth
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this post was from early last year..i now have 9 very healthy thriving blueberries growing in a perfect mulch of oak, pine needles and other goodies..some are blooming now (which probably isn't good as it will freeze many times before summer yet)

the problem was defective plants that arrived by mail order last year in June..since then i have bought good local plants in pots and they were just fine..and now i have a lovely hedge of them growing well
 
                              
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I always thought gypsum was what you were supposed to add to soil when it needed calcium but you wanted to avoid raising the pH?
 
Aljaz Plankl
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Dr. William Albrecht

http://www.pacificcalcium.com/info/albrecht.html

The pH Bugaboo - Another major finding of Albrecht and colleagues is that pH (level of acidity or alkalinity) is relatively unimportant in growing plants. Rather, what is important is supplying enough calcium and getting the magnesium, potassium, etc. in the right ratios. What is critical to proper growth is the balance of nutrients, not the degree of acidity.

From the standpoint of producing edible and nutritious crops, high acidity simply denotes minerally impoverished soils. Plant roots actually don’t mind moderately high acidity if they get their minerals.

Supplying The Right Minerals - (as with the calcium in lime) in the right ratios actually brings about a “desired” pH of 6.2 to 6.5 in most situations. Keeping the soil slightly acidic however, is important for availability of trace elements and long-term recharge of exchanged minerals from non-clay soil particles. Nevertheless, you can have the “right” pH and get poor crops for lack of the right combination of minerals. You can also have the “wrong” pH and grow fine plants by supplying the right combination of nutrient elements.

You Won’t Like This - Rhododendrons are not “Acid Lovers”, nor “Lime Haters”and they don’t always have an aversion for calcium. This illustrates perfectly the pH bugaboo.

Rhododendrons, blueberries, and other “acid lovers” simply evolved to take advantage of soils lacking in calcium. Albrecht pointed out that Scottish researchers were able to grow rhodies at a pH of 8 (alkaline) using magnesium carbonate. Albrecht showed these plants need high magnesium. The “acid lovers” also need iron, manganese, copper and boron which are chemically locked-up at high (alkaline) pH or in the absence of a humus buffer (See Acres U.S.A., pp. 155 & 185). Lee Fryer (see The Bio-Gardener’s Bible, pp 126-7)) was able to grow happy rhodies at pH 9 with weekly feedings of lime water plus “lethal” doses of boron and other minerals including chelated iron.
 
tel jetson
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I have found the quote Plankl posted to be true.  our blueberries do just fine in dirt with neutral pH.  there's plenty of organic matter and humic acid in there to buffer things and keep ions in solution, though.
 
Paul Cereghino
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I just read part of a book from the Albrecht/ACREs USA diaspora.  Something thay say struck me... The author suggested that just becasue a plant tolerates low pH, does not mean that low pH is what maximizes plant vigor and yield. 

I assume the blueberry's preferences suggest that it is tolerant of the nutrient inavailability associated wtih low pH (Mo, P, Ca, Mg), while intolerant of the nutrient deficiencies of high pH (Fe Mn).  However, most every plant we eat grows best in a well structured, deep, organically rich soil, moist but well drained soil.  However by playing the tolerances of plants, we can get yield from places where that can only be achieved with unacceptable or unsustainable effort.

Therefore if you cultivate the soil for general fertility, and avoid heavy liming or spreading a bunch of wood ash around, or pouring new concrete in the vicinity you should be OK.

I seem to remember that lots of ericaceous plants are strong mycorrhizal assocaites.  And we have lots of wild blueberry relatives growing around here that love growing in rotting wood.  I wonder if blueberries are a natural forsome variation on hugelculture?
 
Brenda Groth
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exactly what i was thinking..i have been using a lot of buried wood bark and sawdust in my gardens to try to increase the fertility..and the areas that have had this or bark mulch on it seem to be really gaining in fertility over the years..of course most of our soil is pretty fertile anyway..i am working on a garden area that is really low fertility and badly spent soil from years of gardening on it in the latter part of last century..

i'm attempting to reclaim that area..it was a garden many many years ago but also had been used after that as an area to burn piles of brush and wood..so there is a very badly damaged and alkaline area in one corner of that property..and i've been building it up with rotting wood (aspen) as well as compost and bark..and it seems to be gradually growing in fertility.

this year the entire 40 x 48 area is being reclaimed..the least alkalinie area is being used as a blueberry hedge and they are now doing quite well..but the more alkaline area is thick with rotten wood and compost and now some dairy doo..and is being used for cole crops and lettuces thisyear.

hopefully  it will come backinto fertility with some years of tending..

there were ancient asparagus beds on this area that were heavily congested with sod, quackgras and wild oregano..i am having to dug up everything that is in the area and replantinig the asparagus and other plants (rhubarb andmany others)..to reclaim it..and the soil doens't appear to be very healthy..so it is getting a heavy amount of doo and some char (not the alkalaine are or the blueberries)as well as as much other humus i can add to the soil

by the end of this next month i hope to have the entire 40 x 48 area dug, and rebuilt up and ready to plant or planted..when i do i'll post some photos
 
Susanna de Villareal-Quintela
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I purchased several dozen mature blueberry bushes (rescued from being a casualty of development).  Now that I have their roots carefully covered with my compost, I have the pleasure of preparing their the soil for planting.   

Our small Michigan farm has 2.5 - 3 feet of good topsoil with underlying clay and higher water table.  Although I'm not skilled at interpretting the results, I did have a soil test completed (I forgot the micronutrient test).  Our soil test indicates we have a soil pH of 6.8.   I have been concerned about what recommendation to follow: high acid soil or simply healthy soil.

Honestly, I don't want to fuss at trying to induce more acidity into the soil when I have spent the past 7 years building it up!  I would prefer to mix the existing topsoil with our good compost (horse manure, grass clippings, and leaves) to  provide adequate organic matter, microbial activity and to encourage wormy-activity.  After planting, I intend to mulch heavily with pine shavings. 

Is anyone willing to offer an opinion?

 
tel jetson
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sounds like your dirt is in pretty good shape.  I really doubt you'll kill the blueberries planting in that dirt as is.  if, after a couple of years, they aren't producing the way you want them to, you might want to explore some other soil amendment.  I think chances are good that they'll be just fine, though.  just don't go liming them.
 
                                  
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We have had very good success with plants mail ordered from Blueberrycroft.com.  They have a wide selection of both northern and southern varieties listed according to their growing zone and at very good prices.  I have found one of the advantages of mail ordering is I get a wider selection of plan varieties from which to choose. 
 
Brenda Groth
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well all of the blueberries did really well that I got, finally ..and my neighbor gave me another bush..so now i have a nice row of blueberries of all sorts of kinds..only a few doubles..so i'm very happy with them..they are growing well and had they not froze with 3 20 degree nights in mid May, then i would likely even have berries as they were loaded with blossoms when they froze
 
Jennifer Smith
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Brenda Groth wrote:
horseradish is invasive from root bits

How invasive?  I want more and only have a little bit.  I bought one root from the grocery and now have like 3 little clumps.  I wonder how thin I can spread it around. 
 
tel jetson
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Jennifer Smith wrote:
How invasive?


I had some horseradish growing in a small pot for about a year then lost interest and let it die.  it didn't get any water for over a year and was crispy and crumbly dry.  it was clear to me that there was no life left in it.  I reused the dirt from the pot and was surprised to see horseradish sprouting shortly thereafter.  maybe not the toughest stuff in the world, but not far from it.

I don't think it will spread too fast, it's just hard to get rid of it entirely.  chances are good that you'll always miss a piece of root and that will sprout a new plant.  plant it some place where that won't be a big deal.
 
Jennifer Smith
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So I dug up a little root today, I can cut it in half or quarters and replant?  what time of year might be ideal for this?
 
tel jetson
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ideal would probably be winter, but I really don't think it will matter much.
 
Jennifer Smith
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Thnk you so much Tel.  For most new plants, how would you cut up a root to replant? 
 
tel jetson
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the larger the piece of root, the more resources the new plant will have at its disposal and the faster it will be able to grow.  since it's a fairly vigorous plant, one inch pieces ought to be large enough.
 
Jennifer Smith
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ok, so I will cut my little root into 3 pieces, plus part stayed where I dug it from.  I had put it in a pot with a fig by mistake but it is doing fine and so is the fig, but where the horses ate the fig of course. 

So from one root, 3 then each of thse maybe 3... Cool.  Oh better yet there is some in another pot with a cherry where it belongs.  I may dig it up and divide it too, back around the same tree. Prolific.

Like all things I would like to work it well this year then let it do it's thing without help from me.
 
Brenda Groth
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Jenn, I don't think you can kill horseradish no matter what you do to it..the smallest pieces will sprout..i have a lot of it.
 
Jennifer Smith
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Good to hear Brenda, I want to give it a try, thick around cherry trees.  Read where it can make a big difference in the cherry tree's health.  I know just keeping the mower and weed whacker away will help.
 
Lisa Paulson
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This thread reminded me to save the needles I clean out of the gutters on the buildings to mulch my 8 blueberries planted this year.  I bought 50lbs of blueberries for my freezer and am drinking a blueberry smoothie at the moment.  I can hardly wait for them to mature, at another home i had 8  mature plants that yielded even more than I could eat and were havested by countless family and friends.  I use to use clothespegs to attach sheer curtains from the thrift shops to keep the birds out of ripening berries. 
 
Jennifer Smith
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Synergy wrote:
This thread reminded me to save the needles I clean out of the gutters on the buildings to mulch my 8 blueberries planted this year. 
  I use to use clothespegs to attach sheer curtains from the thrift shops to keep the birds out of ripening berries. 

Great info thanks
 
                              
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It seems that Camellia Sinensis (Chinese tea) might be a good companion to blueberries as they also like acid soil.  I know that blueberries have very shallow oriented roots.  I couldn't find much information about tea plant roots though.
 
Matthew Fallon
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I'm itching to get some new Blueberry plants. we had lots over the years,only 2 remain.
will put in at least 9. 

can anyone recommend favorite varieties? I'm in long island.zone 6/7ish.coastal,acidic soil.
perhaps a favorite grower too ? or possibly plant/goods swaps ? 

found this gentleman on Ebay, seems like a decent deal. 3 plants @ $22 shipped. 2nd year.but cut back to 5"for shipping. i may pickup 6 from them.
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=150387192882&ssPageName=ADME:X:RTQ:US:1123

i'd also like to try propagating clippings from my bushes ,saw that honey can be used for rooting,interesting!
 
Lisa Paulson
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I have no recommendations  but I took the plunge and bought 75 bushes straight off the farmer to form a hedge with and I am still digging them in .    I bought Elliot, Brigitta, Chippewa, North Blue, Blue Gold, North Country, Bluecrop and  Duke .  They were $2 each for 3 year old bushes in gallon pots about 3 feet high   . 

The hedge will edge each side of a 25 foot wide corridor that will run up between two small grass pastures which I keep a stallion in each side of.  Also I will use the corridor to set up horse show jumps for training in dry weather and who knows maybe rotate other animals like geese but I don't have any yet. 
 
Matthew Fallon
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hey that sounds beautiful' .man if your farmer ships he/she'd have all my business for sure,and then some,that's a steal!.i'd probably end up with a yard full of em' .
hope to see it when you're done

i picked up 3 today, duke/elliot/bluecrop .
also took some cuttings off my 2 out back,we'll see how they do.
just read about using honey for rooting starter,neat eh?

looking into what other berries to get in...may go dig some autumn-olive.there is a huge stand of them near a local park.
 
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