Want to beat the winter’s blues? No need to drop & do forty (pushups)… instead – Shop for Blueberries!
Although it might be cold outside it’s time for a gardeners’ workout – Shop, Amend, Plant! What could be better.
Part of shopping for me is researching… a little goes along way and keeps the brain active and endorphins flowing.
Time to think about Blueberries. A welcome addition to any garden zone 3-10. What’s not to love… three season’s of interest and fruit to boot (and EAT!)
In the Piedmont (North Carolina zone 7) recommended planting is February to March… Check your local county extension for the best planting time & recommended varieties in your area. Do a little research to find which berries are self-pollinating or which need friends to produce a delicious crop. Consider planting a few varieties for your area that extend the season – and the harvest – with early, mid and late season fruit.
Plan a patch or just one – if a self pollinating variety – for three seasons of interest. Blueberries can easily work as part of an ornamental border -so get outside and find a place in the sun.
Research in hand – head to your farmer’s market or local nursery to shop for Blueberries! Look for 2 to 3 year old plants and ask questions.
Grab your shovel find a spot in sun and dig in … add amendments for your soil type. Blueberries prefer acidic soil (pH 4.0 – 5.5) well drained soils. When preparing my patch in heavy clay – I rototilled in 3 cu. ft of pine bark.
Young plants are sensitive to fertilizers. One Tablespoon of 10-10-10, or one handful of cottonseed meal spread thinly over the root zone several times during the first growing season will usually be beneficial. The second year this is doubled per plant.
Next I wove a soaker hose through my patch, so in case we didn’t get the required 1-inch per week rainfall, I could easily hook up my hose and give them a drink. (note to self… take photos of our soaker system to share…)
After planting I mulched with pine bark chips, but pine straw, aged pine sawdust or rye straw are also recommended choices.
If you don’t like to share your berries with deer or birds, you might want to use wire cages or netting when the fruits start to set….
In my research I attended a lecture by Dr. Jim Ballington – a researcher and developer of blueberries at North Carolina State University. Dr. Ballington specializes in developing new varieties of small fruit crops and has released 32 blueberry cultivars.
Here are some links to Dr. Ballington’s handouts and tips about pruning – (this is the time of year to prune!) and where to purchase plants online.
Before you know it – It’s Red, White and Blueberry Time – in the NC Piedmont! | EntwinedLife.
Enjoy – living the EntwinedLife