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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bargain Blueberries

'Bluecrop' Blueberry Bush
As I indicated in my last post about the two camellias in one pot I'm always looking for ways to garden cheap.  Imagine my excitement when I stumbled across some 'Bluecrop' blueberries that are normally over $20 marked down to $5 each!  Of course I snatched two up (I might have gotten more had they had a second variety) for planting in my garden.  My kids love eating blueberries but they can get expensive in the stores, especially if you prefer the organic ones. The cheapest price I've seen blueberries for in the store was about $2 for an 8oz. package.  With a potential yield at maturity of 10-20 lbs. these two plants will pay for themselves many, many times over.

Blueberries typically enjoy acidic soil and if the soil isn't ideal it will need amended.  Getting a soil test to find out what the soil is like (I have to admit that I've never had my soil tested) from your local agricultural extension program is a good idea!


Here is my strategy for improving the soil for blueberries:

  1. Add aluminum sulfate and bonemeal to the soil prior to planting.  The aluminum sulfate is a common soil acidifier often used in to change the color of hydrangea blooms.  Bonemeal has a high phosphorus content which is good for promoting rooting.  I want the blueberries to have a great root system to start off with.
  2. Add organic matter to the soil area.  I'll scratch in compost periodically to the top layers of soil and allow the nutrients to soak down into the root system. Working in compost
  3. Water periodically with diluted coffee.  There's almost always a little bit of coffee at the end of the carafe when we're done with the coffee in the morning.  Unless of course one of the children kept us up in which case we'd be strongly considering brewing a second pot of coffee just to get through the day.  Diluted coffee has a low nitrogen level and is slightly acidic.  I'll also integrate the coffee grounds in and around the base of each plant on a semi-regular basis to improve the organic matter in the soil and improve the acidity.
  4. Mulch well!  Blueberries need moisture and a good organic mulch like pine needles is perfect. They will slightly (just a little) acidify the soil over time, allow water to move to the root system, and shade the ground to keep the root systems cool and moist. Blueberries like their moisture!
Most blueberries enjoy having a second variety somewhere nearby as a pollinator but 'Bluecrop' blueberries are reportedly self-fertile. Yields increase with better pollination provided by another variety that has overlapping bloom times. Fortunately I have two other varieties that should be cross pollination compatible with my new 'Bluecrop' blueberries called 'Reka' and 'Chippewa'.  My first blueberry cutting experiment didn't work out so well. The gardener let the cuttings dry out.  Better monitoring by the gardener will give be better results. I'll have to get onto him for his lapse in cutting care!

I'm looking forward to the fruits of spring and winter hasn't even begun yet!  

What fruits do you grow in your garden?


2 comments :

  1. We enjoy our blueberries right off the bush too..and in patries!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Blueberries bring me back to the times in Northern Mn as a child! Thanks for the post!!!


    :Minneapolis Landscape

    ReplyDelete

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