Blueberries

Does anyone here grow blueberries? If so, what sort of conditions do they like please?
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On 6/15/2014 1:37 AM, Fran Farmer wrote:

Acidic soil, good bit of water, really nice soil. We're losing one of the four we planted last year, haven't found the reason for it dying yet.
We mulch our blueberries with pine needles to help the acidity and, sometimes, add a little dusting of acidity minerals. They do like sunshine and need lots of water when berries are growing, not enough to drown the plant but you will catch on quickly.
Our blueberries were blooming when a late frost hit us this year, no berries. We ended up at a you-pick-em berry farm at US$3.00 a lb.
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On Sun, 15 Jun 2014 16:37:58 +1000, Fran Farmer

*raises hand* :)
Sun: they need several hours daily of full sun. Morning sun suits our plants nicely since they are lightly shaded in the hot afternoon.
Soil & watering: they like well-drained acid soil (PH between 4.5 to 5.0 is ideal). Peat moss added to the soil, unless the area is already acidic, is good. You can add coffee grounds to some compost, let it "cook" a few weeks, and they love it. Top dress with some good rotted compost and pine needles and mulch heavily. They like lots of organic material. If your soil is very sandy or heavy clay, you'll need to amend with organic loam. Also, we've had good luck hilling the dirt around the base. Ours are raised up a bit, maybe 6 to 8 inches, from the surrounding soil. They're planted in a slanted area so are never sitting in water. However, we don't want all water to immediately wash downhill, so we made a shallow moat of rocks on the downhill side to trap some water, letting the excess run off. Blueberries don't like "wet feet" at all. They're shallow rooted so they like frequent deep watering by hose if the rains don't cooperate.
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On Sunday, June 15, 2014 2:37:58 AM UTC-4, Fran Farmer wrote:

I've got about 700 plants including 2 species and 11 different varieties. B lueberries are very shallow rooted and thus require lots of water. a heavy mulch really helps with water retention. Blueberries require acid soil (pH 4.5-5.2) in order to metabolize the nutrients the require. Plants often sur vive in higher pH conditions, but they don't flourish.
I'm in USDA zone 7a at about 2000 feet above sea level. In this area the ra bbiteye types (V. asheii) far out perform other species. I also have highbu sh (V. corymbosum). They are earlier and perhaps a bit better flavored, but don't produce nearly as well.
There are more than 40 species wild in N. America. The 2 mentioned above ar e the most common commercially grown. There is a cross between the 2 called Southern highbush that is commercially grown in pine bark medium in the mo st southerly areas of the blueberry range (mid Florida).
There is lots of information online. Look at state university websites (NC, VA, GA, OR) for information. NC State U has a very good one.
Hope this helps, Steve
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On 16/06/2014 2:43 AM, Steve Peek wrote:

I assume that is a commercial planting?
(snip)

I'm feeling quite proud of myself as I managed to figure out what all of those abbreviations for those States meant as I did my googling. That may not seem much to you but it's an achievement for a furriner.
And those Unis have lots of great information! Thank you - printed out and about to be put in my garden folder.

It did, thank you Steve - good reading for me for this overcast, cold, winter's day by my fire.
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On Sunday, June 15, 2014 9:59:57 PM UTC-4, Fran Farmer wrote:

s.

(NC, VA, GA, OR) for information. NC State U has a very good one.



Yep, it's semi-commercial, a little retirement income ya know.
Sorry, we usasians tend to think everyone understands our abbreviations. Th ere are other state websites as well. I only mentioned the ones I have used as a resource. I'm in mountainous Western North Carolina, so the best bet for me was NC State. I worked directly with the states' blueberry guru from the soil test through the planting. I've found him and others there to be extremely helpful. The best bit of advise for getting started was "... if y ou can't irrigate as needed for the first couple of years, don't even try.. .". In my experience a blueberry plant that wilts is a dead blueberry plant .
Best of luck and if I can help let me know, Steve
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Seriously acid, good sun, don't feed too heavily (they burn easily from overly fresh compost, fertilizer, etc.)
In the 43-45N latitude belt and northeast portion of the US, anyway, the major truly natural habitat is up above treeline on mountains, where they are essentially growing in little pockets of soil formed in largely exposed rocks, and have no shading from trees. They are also found under acid-loving trees (pine, oak etc.), but rarely fruit there unless one comes down and makes a hole for some sun to get on them, or a forest fire takes many trees out.
The commercial barrens are more of a lowland/boggy environment, again with few trees (thus, "barrens") and have been managed (primarily with fire) for several thousand years.
I keep mine mulched with pine needles, and occasionally toss some sulfur on there to help maintain the low pH. You may need to give them a bit more water than your tarragon to keep them happy if your area is as dry as I think it is from your postings.
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Thank you one and all for your responses. I might have got some of my planting right. In about mid summer, I began by planting in an area where we removed 8 huge old pine trees a couple of years ago. The unplanted remainder live in the nursery for potted plants that are waiting to be planted.
It's well drained where I planted then and they get full sun until later afternoon as it's in the highest corner of my veg area and I've actually managed to be better at watering the ones I have planted by putting a sprinkler on them once a week. I'll check out the Uni web sites and bookmark them until growth starts here again come Spring.
Thanks again.
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On Mon, 16 Jun 2014 11:40:06 +1000, Fran Farmer

That sounds like an ideal site, Fran. Ya done good. :D How many blueberry bushes do you have in all?

Good luck! You'll have more blueberries than you know what to do with in no time at all. I was amazed at how quickly our bushes bounced back from being transplanted. Yours will too, I'm sure. :)
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