I finally planted my own blueberry bushes!
If you know me, you probably know that I’m obsessed with blueberries (on pretty much the same level on which I’m obsessed with chipotle peppers). So obsessed that one of the things I was most excited about buying a house was that we’d have a yard – so I could plant blueberry bushes! I grew up with blueberry bushes at my mom’s house and would spend hours in late june – july picking berries to freeze. Since I’ve moved away, I would still try to get home during the season so I could pick some because I was always worried that mom would drop the ball and not pick enough before they went bad. This year I was home on June 9 and there were some berries that were ready, which was at least 2-3 weeks early because of the weather! There weren’t really enough to pick to freeze, but I definitely snacked on some.
I pretty much always have frozen blueberries in the freezer for recipes, oatmeal, or yogurt – whether I picked them, stole them from mom, or bought them in a store when they were in season. I get a little panicky when I am running low!
I’m shocked that I didn’t plant them the first weekend that we lived there, but I wanted to wait to see how the sun fell, get a feel for the yard and what we wanted to do with it, do some research, and test the soil. I finally planted 3 bushed in mid-June along our back fence. They say the best time to plant blueberry bushes is 10 years ago…I know I won’t see much fruit for the first few years, but I’m encouraged that one of the bushes that I picked already had a few berries when I bought it. I’m struggling with the fact that I ONLY planted 3. Yes, I’m worried that won’t be “enough” – even though my mom only had 3 for years. But what if I don’t like the varieties that I planted or one dies?!
On the other hand, I don’t want to plant more in an area where I’ll regret or will need for something else later on. I think I’ll try to resist buying any more this year and will see how things shake out with the yard next year. I have a few places that I think would work well, but one of them requires removing a big ugly bush, which may be more effort than we’re going for this year. Since you are supposed to plant more than one variety together for cross-pollination, I have to allow for enough space for that many.
To plant these, I took a couple of weekend days to scout out the full sun areas that would be out of the way. I wanted to allow about 3-4 feet between the bushes and about 4-5 feet between the row and the fence. When we bought the plants (Chandler and Elliot varieties), I also bought a soil ph tester for about $7. Apparently that was unnecessary because pretty much all soil and the water in our area is too alkaline, whereas the blueberries prefer acidic. I went back to the store to buy peat moss and pine bark mulch to help add acid, and also picked up Dr. Earth Organic Acid Fertilizer, at the suggestions of the salesman.
Lo dug the holes about 2 feet down like a man while I mixed lots of compost and some of the fertilizer in with our clay-y soil and put the plants in the ground. I added pine bark mulch around the top to add acid, keep moisture in, and keep grass/weeds to a minimum. So far they look great and I can tell that they are growing some – I should take a picture standing beside them so I can compare each year. In 5 years, I hope to have a great crop!
They look tinier in this picture than they are – our grass was out of control and I had the camera angled down.
I can’t wait to see how they grow! After writing this, I’m anxious to plant more varieties so I have some that fruit earlier in the season, as these are July and August. I can just consider any others that I plant as “bonus” and if they don’t make it or we have to move them, it’s okay! I can’t help it, I have blueberry fever!