Blueberry bush suggestions.

Discussion in 'Fruit and Veg Gardening' started by daisybeans, Mar 3, 2010.

  1. daisybeans

    daisybeans Hardy Maple

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    Hello everyone!
    This weekend is supposed to be sunny with temps around 49 F (9 C)! Like a lot of us, we've had nothing but cold, dreary, drizzling, rainy, or snowy weather for months. I'm tired of looking at the leftover snow piles... TIRED of it, I tell you! I hope by Sunday I can report that the last of it is gone from my yard (maybe not the iris bed as it still has about 8 inches worth).

    Anyway, I'm going to be out tidying up things. :-D :-D

    The snow has melted away from the area where I plan to put some blueberry bushes so I want to start readying that spot. It's a space beneath and adjacent to a large pine tree. It gets decent sun. Last year I had some toms, broccoli, and some other veggies there.

    Ground is not workable yet. For now, I thought I'd pile a good bit of compost on top and dig it in later. Sjoerd's reco'd azaelea soil -- now, should I pile that on top now too, or wait until closer to planting time? Anything else I should do to make a nice home for some new blueberries?

    Next.... what type of blueberries? Has anyone ever purchased them online? Next weekend I'm going to a garden show at a large garden center so I can also look at what they've got, if they have anything. I recall folks saying it is good to have several different types of bushes.

    I'm pretty excited about this -- it's one of my "new" things to try this year.

    Thanks for the input!!
     
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  3. eileen

    eileen Resident Taxonomist Staff Member Moderator Plants Contributor

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    We have someone who could tell you all about blueberries - Sjoerd. :-D Let's hope he reads your post Daisy. He can also tell you how to make THE most scruptious jam from blueberries - I know 'cause I've been lucky enough to taste it. :drool:
     
  4. daisybeans

    daisybeans Hardy Maple

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    Yes, I'm waiting for Sjoerd's response too Eileen! He's the guy for the job. I've got some old posts in my favorite list already.

    Hello, Sjoerd??
     
  5. Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Mighty Oak

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    Hiyah miss...I'm coming, I'm coming...but I have to find the names of the best performers. I shall come back as soon as I locate my notes from the past.
    I am not ignoring you, I promise. :)
     



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  6. daisybeans

    daisybeans Hardy Maple

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    Ha ha. I knew you'd come through, Sjoerd. Thank you. And take your time.
     
  7. Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Mighty Oak

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    [​IMG]

    Found it!

    Ok, I know that you can't use the info that you see in my little black book, but I just included it for the entertainment factor. The foto makes it look huge, but it is only as big as a hand.

    Anyway--down to business:
    First things first--

    The compost and Azalea soil:
    First I would dig the ground now where you plan on planting your bushes. You can mix the compost and some Azalea soil in and turn it all over a few times so that it is good and mixed and just let it stand until planting time.

    --Next, when it's time to plant you dig holes to plant the bushes in at least twice the diameter of the root clump. This is where you want to use the Azalea soil primarily.
    Put some in the hole and then place the plant in and back-fill with more of the Azalea soil, all the way up onto the stem so that the plant is sitting a couple of fingers deeper than it was in the pot originally. This will stimulate more branch growth from below thew spoil level.

    --I don't fertilize my plants very much, but you can sprinkle a bit of bone meal around the base (under the mulch layer). I know that not everyone would do this, but using the bone meal is a personal call and not 100% necessary...I just thought that I'd mention it. It's something that I do with planting of bushes and trees...but as I said--it's a personal preference.

    --Apply a nice, thick layer of pine bark mulch on top after watering thoroughly.

    Type of blueberries:
    It is known that having several types of blueberry bushes together in the same plot gives one a better harvest.

    --The types that work best for me are:
    1). 'Myrtilles gross fruit' Vaccinium myrtillus, technically not a blueberry proper, but in the family. Blueberries proper are known by the Latin name of, "Vaccinium corymbosum" I think that I have heard this referred to as a "bilberry" before.
    2). 'Patriot'
    3). 'Goldtraub'
    4). 'Northland'

    These four types yielded 10 kilos of fruit last year. I was wéll chuffed.
    As you can see on the piccy, I had "Early Blue", but they did not do well at all for me, so I lifted them and they now sit in another allotmenteer's garden.

    I have bought blueberry bushes online, but I prefer to handle the bushes-- remove them from their pots and look at the root system, check their habitus (going for plants with the most useable branches), looking at what I will have to prune and finally checking for disease or things that I don't like the looks of.
    I'm a nut like that.

    I hope this has been helpful. I'm excited about this too...and it isn't even MY project. hahaha. Enthusiasm is infectious, isn't it?
     
  8. daisybeans

    daisybeans Hardy Maple

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    Thank you, thank you, Sjoerd! This is helpful and just plain exciting. I have some questions...

    Today I called a couple of local garden centers who didn't know of any specific Azalea Soil... hmmm... I can't remember seeing such a thing either. This will be one of the things I will check for these next two weekends at the garden shows I'm attending. What sets Azalea soil apart from "regular" garden soil? I may have to create my own.

    Meanwhile, my local garden center carries something called LeafGro, a commercially available compost/soil conditioner, so that is good. I can buy it bagged or in bulk (if I can borrow my brother's truck to pick it up). I have lots of places where my gardens need to be amended. Here is a link, just FYI, in case you're wondering about LeafGro.

    http://www.menv.com/leafgro.shtml

    Now for the blueberries. :D

    I had a long chat with "Dottie" the garden center lady, who coincidentally has been experimenting with blueberries for a couple of years. She brought some good performing plants down from Pennsylvania and they have done very poorly here in Maryland. She's now trying some that have been grown in this area. She gave me a list of blueberries that will be available from the local growers to the nurseries in the area.

    Chandler
    Patriot (one of your recos Sjoerd, very excited about that)
    Misty
    Blue Ray
    Berkeley
    Blue Crop
    Early Blue (not a great performer for her either, btw.)
    Jersey
    Pink Lemonade
    Sunshine Blue
    Tophat
    Northland (possibly)

    Sjoerd, or anyone else -- Have you heard of or tried any of these? I was glad to see Patriot on the list especially because Sjoerd's book says they are "easy" with "big berries!" The one called Jersey sounds interesting to me because the most wonderful blueberries grow in South Jersey...

    I'm inclined to want to buy my plants from a nursery instead of a catalog too, for the same reasons you stated, Sjoerd. A bit ago, a friend told me that he saw a good selection of blueberries at Lowes today...

    So yeah, I'm excited about my new project. Now, what about size of the bushes... the sizes seem to be ranged from 3or 4 feet all the way to 7 feet. I may have to dig out a larger plot than I expected. (uh oh, I foresee a lot of digging in my future). I may have to limit to just two bushes. Maybe three. Sjoerd, you got 10 kilos from 4 bushes? Is the size of the bush corelated with the size and yield of berries?

    Thanks again!!! And if you have any insight about that list of blueberry bushes, I am all ears!
     
  9. Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Mighty Oak

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    Hiyah Daisy--
    Look, I just read your posting and I shall answer it tomorrow morning.
    It is 02:55 here now and I need to go on one ear.

    Very exciting this. I shall need to have a look at the leafgro site. The name makes me think of a high nitrogen soil, since nitrogen makes plants produce foliage. This is not what you want. I will look tomorrow, oké?

    Seeyah in the mawnin'.
     
  10. daisybeans

    daisybeans Hardy Maple

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    Thanks! yes, check out LeafGro -- I will be interested in your opinion(s).
    Wishing you sweet blueberry dreams!
     
  11. MuddyKnees

    MuddyKnees New Seed

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    Plenty of good advice there..

    I've been trying to get the soil pH down to ..well a lot lower than 6.8.. All our soil hereabouts is neutral.. handy in a way for most things, easy to adjust..but a long ways off blueberry levels.
    After trying oak leaves and garden sulphur (little, often) I noticed someone mention pine needles.. I went out and bagged some very old pine forest top soil/mulch and placed in a pot, watered well then checked pH a couple of days later.. At 4.5 it is nicely acidic and will therefore be used, along with other soil to repot ( larger ones). since working on the soil my plants are looking a lot healthier.. I just have to prune away the fruit (hard to do) to better the growth for, a while.

    [​IMG]
    compact bush type. ( photo / image / picture from MuddyKnees's Garden )





    [​IMG]
    Late Spring photos. ( photo / image / picture from MuddyKnees's Garden )



    [/img]
     
  12. Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Mighty Oak

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    Good Morning Miss Daisy,
    Well, I had a read over at the LeafGro link that you sent. I saw what was written, but the two things that I was looking for was not listed, namely the N-P-K and pH levels. I wrote them an e-mail asking what they are. No answer as of yet.
    You want to see on the bag of soil that the pH is between 5-6. A little more acidic would not be bad though (4.5).
    In this instance the NPK is not as important to me as the pH.
    Azalea/rhododendron/camelia soils should be available there somewhere. Perhaps you could visit that local garden center and look closely on the LeafGrow bag--front, back and sides to try and find the pH of the contents. If it falls within the good range, then you should be able to use it, I should imagine.

    You asked what set the Azalea soil apart from the other soils--it's the pH primarily and to a lesser degree the NPK.

    The types od bushes that your Garden center lady mentioned: Yes I have heard of some of these, but have only grown the ones that I mentioned. So I do not have any first-hand experience with the others on that list.
    The Patriot bush was planted last year and had some berries on it when the 'weejuns came down for a look-see. Those little girls ate all the ripe berries that were on that bush at the time. hahaha. I guess that that is a testimony on the flavour of the fruits of that particular bush, eh? It didn't matter that the bush was cleaned, because the other bushes inside the cage were absolutely loaded. They were so cute kneeling down outside the fruit cage reaching their little arms through the fence and picking what they could reach. If I had only taken a pic.

    Bush size: Well all of the bushes I have are generally slightly taller than my knees, but not all of them. (I am 6'3"--to pre-empt a wise acre comment). ;)
    I do not think that you will have to dig out a larger plot than you had planned at all. The most of the bush types are low by nature.

    The size of the bush is not directly correlated with the size of the yield, but rather the type of the bush in my experience. Naturally the more branches you leave on your bush, the more place there is for berries to grow.
    To illustrate--if you have a two-twigged bush that is 10 inches tall there will be less berries on that than one that is two feet tall with ten twigs on it. That's logical.
    I have had some blueberry bushes that were as tall and wide as their neighbours but had less one tenth the amount of berries on them.

    Thanks for the "sweet blueberry dreams" wish last night. it is lunch time here now...so I think that I will make myself some blueberry jam sarnies now.

    I hope that this helps. Be sure to check out Lowes. I have ordered bushes through the mail and had 50-50 success.

    Looking for and deciding what bushes to get is sort of like choosing strawberry plants. There are alot and they are all different in their own way. The only thing that I can suggest is to think what is important to you in a bush...and then search them out and read about the idiosyncracies of them and then select the ones that fill your bill.
     
  13. daisybeans

    daisybeans Hardy Maple

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    Thanks for showing your blueberries, Muddy. I will be planting beneath and near a big pine tree. I think the blueberries will like it there.

    Sjoerd, I'll reply more later, gotta run off to work and I'm already late.

    I'll take the telephone number to work with me and see if I can call LeafGro today re: ph and NPK.
     
  14. Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Mighty Oak

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    Hello Muddy Knees,

    Those potted plants of yours truly do look healthy. Digging up pine forest topsoil and needles was a good move and gave you quick results.
    I also noticed that in Oz one can buy comercially bagged Azalia/Camelia soil (Brunnings). I suspect that their soil will also be of an acceptable pH should you wish to ammend what you already have.
     
  15. Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Mighty Oak

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    Hello Daisy--
    An update from LeafGrow just in--- I will copy and paste:

    "Morning Sjoerd, Since Leafgro is not produced in a lab, the N-P-K and pH fluctuate somewhat, but the range is always very close. Last month's analysis had the N-P-K at 1.6-4-and the pH was 7.44. Nancy

    -----Original Message-----
    Sent: Friday, March 05, 2010 6:40 AM
    To: Nancy Faulkner
    Subject: LeafGro compost"

    Daisy, I find that pH waaay too high for blueberries. I am willing to bet that your soil already has a lower pH than that!
     
  16. daisybeans

    daisybeans Hardy Maple

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    I had a nice chat on the phone with Nancy from LeafGro this a.m. too. She's very nice and it was a treat to talk to a garden-y type person. She also told me where to buy a ph tester for the soil so that was helpful and I think I will find it interesting.

    Yes, I'm sure the ph is lower too, Sjoerd, especially in the "blueberry area" since it's under the pine tree. So. Keeping in mind that the spot had veggies there last year, is a little on the low side and tends to puddle when it rains, what should I be doing? When preparing soil, how does one go about adding nutrients and bulk AND proper ph?

    It's been a long time since high school science but, if I add amendment with a neutral ph to soil with a lower ph, what happens to the ph of the mix? Does it stay the same or average between the two?
     

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