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Over story for Blue Berries/ Blue berry polyculture  RSS feed

 
Ken LaVere
Posts: 35
Location: Southern Kentucky near Glasgow
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books food preservation forest garden hunting solar trees
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Does any one have any experience with Blue Berries? They grow great here and there is a real market for them but I hate to mono-crop them like everyone does around here. Any ideas?
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
Posts: 1363
Location: northern California
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I grew and marketed many blueberries in GA in the 90's. I had "inherited" a monocrop patch, but I had pretty good results planting winter squash and sweet potatoes between/under the bushes. If I had more reliable irrigation these intercrops would have done even better. Brambles, privet, and weed trees coming up in the middles of the bushes were about the biggest problem....they needed at least an annual cleanout. I also helped harvest at a blueberry farm in N. FL where they let the occasional oak grow up among the bushes. It was noted that those blueberries in the shade of the trees produced somewhat less than those in the open, but that the ripening was delayed by up to several weeks, so the season ended up being quite usefully extended. Their plan was to cut the oaks before they got too large for shiitake logs, and let them coppice.... Seems like other scattered trees could be grown likewise, provided they don't compete too much.....
 
Mary Lou McFarland
Posts: 17
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I have been giving this a lot of thought. I was watching a hugel kultur video where a fella said that the fruit grown on the east and the north of the hugel was far sweeter, tastier, etc. Made me wonder if it would be the way to go if you made your hugels running north/south and planted strawberries or asparagus on the east and the blueberries on the west. I know there would be some shade issues but to be honest it was so incredibly flippin' hot in Iowa this summer the only things that did well were plants that got shade. Anyway, it is something I would like to try. also thinking of doing some of the hugels with elderberries on the west. And was amazed to see a picture of huckleberries on a thread here the other day. so they didn't just invent huckleberries for Huckleberry Hound!!

Do you guys think this would work out okay?
 
Dan Cruickshank
Posts: 59
Location: Virginia
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According to a document I found on silviculture, at http://na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/Volume_1/vol1_Table_of_contents.htm, blueberries natively grow near certain pine trees: Alaska cedar, Stika spruce, Western red cedar, White cedar, White spruce, Black spruce, Red spruce, Jack pine, Spruce pine, Longleaf pine, Sand pine, Table mountain pine, Red pine, and pitch pine. I've also read that pitch pine forests are common in the Eastern US where we are at, or perhaps even pitch-pine/oak forests. Further, our extension agent recommends pitch pines as not tolerant of shade, fire tolerant, grows slow, intermediate lifespan, and very tolerant of poor aeration due to saturated soils. Hemlock also grows near/around blueberries natively, but I know very little about it.

I would like to suggest a guild supporting blueberries and pitch pines and perhaps even oak trees, although the guide above suggests many other pine trees would be possible for the guild. I'm still missing other elements to this guild, such as a nitrogen fixer. Any ideas?

Further, other discussions have suggested that blueberries will grow well over waterlogged soils, just not in waterlogged soils themselves. Perhaps the reference to pitch pines ability to grow in waterlogged soils is a hint at something?

I don't have any experience in any of the above, so please take these thoughts with a grain of salt.

Anyone out there tried raising blueberries with pitch pines?
 
Shawn Harper
Posts: 360
Location: Portlandia, Oregon
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I don't understand why more people don't plant blueberries and pines together it seems like the most obvious of things.
 
Craig Dobbson
master steward
Posts: 1724
Location: Maine (zone 5)
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I have a patch of low bush blueberries about an acre in size. Amongst them there are lots of small apple, cherry, ash and hawthorn trees.
 
Mary Lou McFarland
Posts: 17
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If pines will work well, I wonder if stone pines would fit the bill. Then you could get some value added with the pine nuts.

Craig, I don't know about some of the trees you mentioned, but the ash has pretty much been locked down here because of the emerald ash borer. It hasn't gotten to the state yet but is getting very close, so ashes are no longer available at garden centers the state nursery, etc.

If oaks do well with blueberries then I wonder if other nuts would do well. I am interested in hazelnuts. Talked to a nurseryman in Canada who told me that my area is perfect for them.

Seems I read this last spring that nasturtiums would fix nitrogen..... I'm not sure though. It has been awhile since I was researching that, though I do remember that the same article said that apples and mushrooms love each other.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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any interplanting with blueberries would require the same type of soil..highly acidic. I have tried a few things with my blueberries, and actually the blueberries seem to do best somewhat alone..but in t he wild they grow in swampy woodsy areas where there are a lot of rotting logs and moss..so it would seem that would work well in the garden as well..seems the rotting logs hold the moisture same as what hugel would only these logs are on TOP of the soil rather than buried..best wild blueberries found by these..also wild mushrooms
 
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