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and what to help my blueberries?  RSS feed

 
Amanda Wheaton
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They were planted last year. (2012) Some of them have a little organic material and some of them I planted them in sand. I feel kind of dumb for not preparing the area with a little organic mulch first but such is life. I want to make sure they are given the best chance now. They are the farthest spot away from my house so I want to say they are maybe.... 300 feet away so the water pressure is low. I mulch them with pine needles this year but.. I think I could do better. Is it beneficial for me if I put top soil down and planted grass in between the rows? Or should I just extend out a little with more mulch and if I am lucky, can run a soaker hose out there that will work? I know I cannot use manure on them lest I turn my soil more neutral. I plan on dumping whey and coffee grounds out there. But what can I do to keep them hydrated? very very very poor water retention right now.. I think there is about 30-40 plants up there. All say "Northern Highbush" I would like to dump my blueberry patch if i could figure out how to properly water and mulch the area. Some reason I am drawing blanks and this remains my most trying area of the yard.
 
Chris Kott
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Location: Toronto, Ontario
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Last season was the third since planting my half-dozen blueberry bushes. I have a mix of cultivars, at least a couple of which are Highbush.

They yielded poorly the second season, with fruit about the size of wild ones (these are the jumbo sized ones). This last season they were the right size and a lot of them.

All I did was gather Christmas trees from the neighbourhood and chop them to mulch. I also dumped used coffee grounds in the area, and an organic shellfish/peat compost.

I think the key is to water through the acidic mulch and topdressing, so that it leaches into the ground actually holding the plants.

I also added fresh human urine when possible, which would have offset any nitrogen drawdown, although as the mulch was largely ramial (needle, twig, and bark), there wasn't much chance of that in the first place.

I am pretty sure that the individual plants' root systems need to be in physical contact to fruit. I don't remember why that was supposed to have been.

-CK
 
Amanda Wheaton
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how did you keep yours watered? i have had zero berries and only 2ish inches of growth at most. i think theyre dehydrated too often
 
Chris Kott
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I am in an urban backyard, but all I did was plant under a drip zone and mulch heavily with chopped - up Christmas tree.

-CK
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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I don't have a lot of experience with sandy soil but I do have experience with blueberries. An old farmer once told me that blueberries love a lot of mulch and that their roots are relatively shallow. I put a good 6-12 inches of wood chip mulch around mine every year, leaving a bowl shape around the base.the chickens live to dig in the mulch. I have a nice mowed orchard meadow mix around them (red and white clover, orchard grass, bedstraw, wild strawberry mostly) I didn't plant this orchard originally, I.wouldn't have designed it quite like this with so much grass but it works ok.

What are your plans for the in between area if you don't plant grass?

I wouldn't plant grass because it will compete with the bushes. A mowable mix of fast growing plants/nitrogen fixers/dynamic accumulators could help build topsoil. Have you considered hugelkultur for this spot?
 
Amanda Wheaton
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Matu Collins wrote:I don't have a lot of experience with sandy soil but I do have experience with blueberries. An old farmer once told me that blueberries love a lot of mulch and that their roots are relatively shallow. I put a good 6-12 inches of wood chip mulch around mine every year, leaving a bowl shape around the base.the chickens live to dig in the mulch. I have a nice mowed orchard meadow mix around them (red and white clover, orchard grass, bedstraw, wild strawberry mostly) I didn't plant this orchard originally, I.wouldn't have designed it quite like this with so much grass but it works ok.

What are your plans for the in between area if you don't plant grass?

I wouldn't plant grass because it will compete with the bushes. A mowable mix of fast growing plants/nitrogen fixers/dynamic accumulators could help build topsoil. Have you considered hugelkultur for this spot?


I have a lot of ideas... But probably clover or grass. I know the grass would compete but at the same time if i had top soil the grass might help keep the moisture in the area. Right now the sand just wicks it away. Anyways first off, mulching I am also thining of using a soaker hose and plastic mulch, then covering the whole area. We get enough rain here in Michigan that once they are established it won't be so bad. It sjust getting it to that point...
 
Chris Kott
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Just say no to plastic. Besides, right now you can get a virtually unlimited free supply of conifer mulch if you just take the time to collect discarded Christmas trees and chop them up. They will retain moisture and provide acidic soil conditions that your berries need.

I did this last winter and the difference between two seasons ago and last season was the difference between tiny wild berries and grape - sized ones these these ones are supposed to bear. They looked like bunches of grapes on the plants, had amazing flavor, and I never watered.

-CK
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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I agree with Chris, plastic will halt any soil building.

 
John Merrifield
Posts: 92
Location: West Virginia 6a Avgerage Rainfall 54" est. Average snowfall 36"
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In the background, I see quite a row of spruce that looks as if it could use pruning. Is that on your land?
 
Cj Sloane
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Amanda Wheaton wrote:But what can I do to keep them hydrated? very very very poor water retention right now..


Blueberries love water! I have 2 bushes right next to my pond which yielded 25 lbs this year. I planted them 20 years ago and then ignored them.

My suggestion is to dig out a cigar shaped "pond" in between your rows of BB. Maybe 18" deep or deeper if you can. Then fill it up with grass clippings and then fill with water. This should create "gley" which is like green glue and should seal the water in.
 
Alex Ames
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You have what I would call a cosmetic application of mulch. I would recommend
getting that whole area mulched in as soon as you can find organic material to do
it with. Matu uses 6 to 12 inches he says. He is fighting bind weed and I think 3"
to 6" after it has settled is probably enough and will improve things a good bit. I
would not be overly concerned with acidity/alkalinity until you have an area that will
grow healthy plants.
 
Chris Kott
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Except for that last bit, which I think is a silly thing to suggest, I agree.

You definitely need to mulch heavily, and I have suggested chopped up Christmas trees because they should be free and easy to find now.

But it's imperative when adding that much anything to an area that you have an idea of what the pH is and what kind of effect it is likely to have.

By the way, if you wanted to add to your diversity, potatoes like pine straw too, and buckwheat can handle acidity, sprouts early, and fixes nitrogen.

-CK
 
Johnny Niamert
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I've always been warned that some(most?) farmed Christmas trees are heavily sprayed, as they are ornamental and are usually seen as a quick cash-crop.

Personally I would avoid X-mas trees, if possible.
 
Chris Kott
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Good point. I have always cut my own, but I have that luxury. Perhaps discretion, and prunings of the conifers in the background.

-CK
 
Alex Ames
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Location: Georgia
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It may seem silly to not "be overly worried about" ph but it is a complicated matter
in which things that are applied in an acidic state change as they break down. I am
sure good organic matter would help the situation. I also think plants have enough
"sense" to find the nutrients they need if you give them a chance.
 
Angelika Maier
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Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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For me the blueberries are planted very far apart, but I tend to plant very close. I would maybe consider to prepare a completely new site with lots of organic matter and then transplant them. I found that blueberries take transplanting. I am in Australia so I don't know, but it seems to me that blueberries like the vicinity of trees. And in full sun you will need a lot of water.
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
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I don't disagree about mulch but water may be more important to get them flourishing.

Here's a pic of the 2 bushes I mentioned before and you can see I don't worry too much about mulching:


Of course, behind those phragmites is a nice big pond!
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
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Actually, I take back what I said about mulch. Here a different pic, post harvest (notice the chicken in the middle of the pic):


There is tons of living mulch around those blueberries! Every now and then I'd chop and drop some comfrey and what every weeds annoyed me.

Polyculture helps! You may need to take out some of those blueberries - it's a little too monocropy. Too easy for pests to find.

The one experiment that was totally stupid of me this year was to plant Blue Hubbard squash in with the blueberries. I'm lucky those bushes bent instead of snapping with the weight of the squash (10lbs+).
 
Alex Ames
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Location: Georgia
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If you want lots of blueberries you need to have more than one variety. You don't
need equal quantities but just some different varieties mixed in for pollination.
IMG_1675.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_1675.JPG]
 
Amanda Wheaton
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There is actually about 5 different varieties of blueberries... and I will probably steal quite a few of them for my orchards in the creating of my "permaculture orchard" I need to grow a lot of things around my blueberries my mind is churning like crazy today!
 
Alex Ames
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Amanda Wheaton wrote:There is actually about 5 different varieties of blueberries... and I will probably steal quite a few of them for my orchards in the creating of my "permaculture orchard" I need to grow a lot of things around my blueberries my mind is churning like crazy today!


Just making sure they weren't all the same! Fill it in. Mulch it in. Have fun with it. We had a couple
of years of drought here in Georgia and my bushes stayed compact during that time. Then this year
we had an abundance of rain and they doubled in size. The less you do to baby them the better
off they will be, within reason.
 
Amanda Wheaton
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Alex Ames wrote:
Amanda Wheaton wrote:There is actually about 5 different varieties of blueberries... and I will probably steal quite a few of them for my orchards in the creating of my "permaculture orchard" I need to grow a lot of things around my blueberries my mind is churning like crazy today!


Just making sure they weren't all the same! Fill it in. Mulch it in. Have fun with it. We had a couple
of years of drought here in Georgia and my bushes stayed compact during that time. Then this year
we had an abundance of rain and they doubled in size. The less you do to baby them the better
off they will be, within reason.


I didnt intentionally get a variety.... its just what happens when you spend 2-3 years gathering them and from different stores! lol.. and stores not even selling the same kind each year. I suppose they could just be working on their root system and this year or next they will start leaping but they arent' going to leap if i cant keep their roots happy with moisture. Hopefully this year I do better and in the next 2-3 years they grow by leaps and bounds and start to give me yummy berries
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
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I just looked at that 1st pic and I noticed the blueberries are totally in the shade on a sunny, fall day. So I wonder how many hours of sunlight this spot gets?
 
Amanda Wheaton
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Cj Verde wrote:I just looked at that 1st pic and I noticed the blueberries are totally in the shade on a sunny, fall day. So I wonder how many hours of sunlight this spot gets?[/]

Maybe 10.... They just have tall red pines to the south. They get first morning... then a break during hottest part and then full evening sun.
 
Carl Moore
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I recommend really learning the reproductive cycle of any plant you wish to get up to max health. You should hear the John Kempf Nutrition Confernce audio available here:

https://farmacyseeds.net/forums/showthread.php/58-Start-Here

There is so much awesome info right in that thread... and we are building a full and complete learning library.. hope this helps!

Rebootag




http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVelIupEdbo
 
Carl Moore
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On the John Kempf stuff... theres links to the mp3 audio files there in that page... get this one:

"a-01-31-2013-JohnKempf.mp3"

It's in the first post labeled "John Kempf - Part 1"



right around 32 minutes he speaks specifically about blueberries. I HIGHLY recommend listening to the entire series!

PS - attached a snapshot of the file I mean..
1-13-2014 12-42-26 AM.png
[Thumbnail for 1-13-2014 12-42-26 AM.png]
 
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