In Knoxville you should be able to to use the Northern type
Blueberries. They do need an acidic soil. Lots of limestine in East
Tennesee, so that may be a problem. You may have to acidify your soil
each year. In a climate where the ground freezes, I prefer to plant in
the fall. However if you use potted plants, Spring planting is ok, but
you have to baby them the first year.
I'm near Knoxville and have done countless soil testing for several
properties--all very acidic. I also do a lot of mountain hiking and
there are many wild blueberries. Out soil is generally clay.
Blueberry bushes can be purchase in late winter in local stores. Mix
cotton meal into the soil and mulch with old partially rotted sawdust
or peat moss. Watch for loss of green in the leaves ("anemia") then
feed with an acidic fertilizer at half strength, and then only when
the plant has been established (about a year). Blueberry roots are
very tender. Plant 3 or 4 varieties 4 feet apart for improved yields.
You will have to use plastic bird netting.
Emery, you are exactly right.
Lots of folks think " wood ash for blueberries", because they see acres and
acres of blueberry barrens burned over in the spring.
Not thinking that the burning is to keep down competing weed, brush, and
insect pests, they think " ashes are good for blueberries, after all look
at all that burned over territory".
it is thinking, but not necessarily "right on" thinking. I'll give them
the benefit of the doubt.
Mostly, when people understand that burning the blueberry barrens is to make
manual harvest easier by eliminating other vegetation ( weeds and brush that
contaminate the harvest), killing weed seed on top of the ground,
controlling insect populations that may irrupt.... both insects that may
harm the harvest by their own damage AND insects that may attract a heavy
bird predation to the harvest area... Burning over a blueberry field also
eliminates some flowering weeds that could reduce the pollination of
blueberries by the leased bee hives.
Once folks know WHY the acreages are burned, they understand the
different cultural practices between " commercial/wild" and " backyard".
Yeah I know someone is gonna jump me for even giving credence to the
"commercial/wild" blueberry industry. So just go here
http://tinyurl.com/7f9l3 and send your feedback to the industry, not to
In one's backyard.... plant in acidic, lean, sandy or good draining soil,
mulch with leaves and wood chips to keep down weeds, consider netting
against deer and birds, and pray for good weather at blooming time so the
bees can do their work.
Blueberries bloom early ( here in Maine z5, in late May). If there is
cold, rain ( or even snow) after the spring thaw when blueberries are wont
to bloom, pollination will be affected if the bees aren't active Not a
thing you can do about it except keep good cultural practice and hope for
better weather next year.
The Vaccinium sp are quite fussy customers in cultivation, and I've found
that its more work to make them happy where they don't want to grow, then to
go find them when ripe where they are happy. For me, thats a really short
Here is a link that might help. This is where I'm buying mine from
this year. I have tried multiple varieties and soil ammendments in
Memphis with little success. These guys seem to have a pretty good
system (At least on paper).
I hope this helps: www.watersblueberryfarm.com
Best of Luck,
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