On 11 Feb 2005 05:18:56 -0800, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
To get a good yields there are several things to consider. The soil
must be acidic. I use cottonseed meal in the spring, but that was not
enough so I use two (double-diluted) applications of Miracid during
the growing season. They have a delicate shallow root system that
should be mulched with rotted sawdust. Do not use fresh sawdust. I
heap the sawdust on the ground, let it rot for 10 months, then use it.
The mulch will help retain moisture and reduce watering needs. You
will need some bird netting when the berries form. Plant at least
three varieties for better yields and longer season. Plant 6-8 feet
apart in part sunny locations. In my opinion, they are not exactly a
landscaping "beauty" plant, but the berries are wonderful.
As for being landscape beauties or not, I rather feel they are, or can be.
An older blueberry shrub can fairly often have interesting twig structure
for a winter presence, when the twigs turns bright yellow or red. The
leaves have glorious autumn colors. And the dangly flowers are stunning.
If compared to more shrubs that build up more substance because not
needing the pruning (evergreen rhodies or large deciduous azaleas for
instance) then I agree blueberry bushes have trouble competing in the
beauty department in all seasons. But some shrubs despite their popularity
are either bland (such as boxes) or go through long periods of mediocrity
or disarray (many of the spireas) or are mediocre most of the year yet way
overused anyway (photonia). In comparison to those, I think the seasonal
changes of blueberries make them much more interesting with a considerable
measure of beauty equal to or greater than some ornamental shrubs the
popularity of which I don't always understand (like I don't know why
anyone would plant boxes when very similar-looking shrubs can be had which
add impressive flowers &/or decorative berries to that tiny-leaf evergreen
-paghat the ratgirl
Get your Paghat the Ratgirl T-Shirt here:
lots of care. I have acid soil, and still, I never had luck with them.
If you really insist on making a fence of edible berries (a good idea,
in principle) there are many more small fruits that you could consider,
depending on soil and location. Look at ediblelandscaping.com, then
perhaps call them, describe soil and location and they will give you
something. Or just look at what grows around your area. In my case, the
blackberries and five of my eight Concord vines were wolunteers.
I think they make lovely landscape plants. If you do not live in a region
with naturally acidic soil, however, you'll have to ammend the soil BEFORE
planting blueberries, & they will do well until the native soil has
succeeded in reclaiming the area, & ammending it a second time will not
work for root-sensitive blueberries. If you DO live in an acidic-soil
region like mine, which usually means a place with lots of rainfall &
heavily organic soils due to presence of lots of woodlands, then
blueberries can be SOMEwhat low-maintanence. But if I didn't live in a
naturally acidic soil region I wouldn't have planted them.
Now I've only this past autumn planted my first blueberry patch. So I will
be learning about them myself in months to come. But the book-learnin'
part that led up to planting them encourages my belief that there are good
reasons some people find them difficult, while others find them easy, &
I'm going to find them easy (knock on woody shrubs). Full sun, good
watering schedule, highly organic soil, it should work out. They do
require regular watering in well-draining soil.
They are sensitive to chemicals of all kinds so organic methods will be
more rewarding. Fertilizing can be tricky, as on the one hand they won't
fruit so well if not fertilized, but they evolved in nutrient-poor peety
environments so are easily harmed by over fertilizing. I'm going with
slow-release evergreen fertilizer despite that they're deciduous, as that
seems closest to their needs. Not much fertilizer at winter's end & again
not much fertilizer later in spring, I'm banking on that being enough each
year. I'm mulching with half-composted woodchips to hold in moisture &
maintain soil acidity.
The other thing that ruins them for ornamental value (or any other value)
is us gardeners' overweaning desire to see them fruit even their first
year. Ideally for the first year (& for small bare-root starts, for the
first two years), the flowers are cut off before they go to fruit, to
encourage maximum vegetative growth. Without that, they will never be such
pleasing shrubs, as the fruit production on young shrubs will pretty much
stop vegetative growth the rest of the year & they'll start their second
year scarsely any bigger than their first year. I cannot bare not to see
any fruit the first year so I'm only going to remove the flowers from
two-thirds of the shrubs this year, the other third of the shrubs I will
probably remove some but not all the flowers for limited fruiting hoping
they'll still develop vegetatively even if more slowly than the ones I
won't let fruit right away. But if I were "stronger" I'd cut off the
flowers of all of them this year, & reassess next year whether it needs to
be done then too. The future rewards will be far greater if this is done.
I fear most gardeners can't bring themselves to do it, so they forever
possess feeble blueberry shrubs.
Pruning will also be a learning curve for me. They fruit on second-year
wood, yet minimal pruning is required, & it is possible to get them to
develop a good woody heart. Old limbs that stop producing are cut off near
the ground, but only tip-pruning for winter damage for the rest of the
shrub. But two to four central "trunks" can be kept for ornamental shape &
form & solid woodiness, & a central trunk need only be removed to the
ground if it stops producing young limbs.
If you let blueberry bushes go "wild" & thick & woody, they'd have fewer &
fewer flowers & fruits over time, but they could still be beautiful shrubs
with the shiny green leaves of spring turning bright burning-bush colors
-paghat the ratgirl
Get your Paghat the Ratgirl T-Shirt here:
I planted a few along my backyard fence last year. They grew well
with minimal intervention and turned a beautiful red in the fall.
I've been told that they might get a little spindly and not be
all that pretty in the late winter as they get big; this year
the winter was mild enough that they didn't even lose all their
I'm not all that concerned with harvesting them -- I'm growing
them for the wildfowl and critters. If I can grab a handful for
myself when I'm out in the yard sometime, I'll be happy.
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