Friday, May 29, 2009

Blueberry Bushes

This post with pictures of our blueberry bushes is a bit over-due. A blog reader asked a while ago if I would post some pictures of our bushes so he could compare them with some neglected ones that he's trying to reclaim on property he purchased.

Problem is there's not much to see right now. The bushes are just barely starting to leaf out and with my heavy mulch of peat moss for a background, the nearly bare branches of the bushes don't show up very well.

We bought about twenty bushes of a mixed variety ten years ago and they are all ones that should do well in our northern climate. They're a cross between low bush and high bush blueberries. I think we may have stunted their growth in the beginning because it seems to me they're not nearly as large or robust as they should be.

As homesteaders eager to get our plantings going on a new piece of land, we were a wee bit premature in ordering them. The spring they came, we had already noticed the abundance of deer we had on the property. Until we could get our garden area fenced (a necessity), we planted them in large plastic buckets and put them in a chain link dog kennel enclosure for protection. Then (blast and dang) circumstances prevented us from getting them planted in the ground the next spring, too. So they ended up spending their first two years with us in the buckets. In the dog kennel. Not good.

When we finally got them planted in the ground, I truly believe for the next two years, they got smaller. (Couldn't be, could it?) We wondered if they were perhaps not getting enough sun as the woods on the east prevented the morning sun from getting to them for the first several hours of each day. I thought we had done enough to make the ground adequately acidic, but that could have been a problem, too. (Gosh, this is sounding like a long, sad story, isn't it?)

The books say you should take any forming berries off the bushes for the first three or four years to give the bush time to develop. Then when the bushes are about five years old, they should start to produce a good harvest. Ours have now had eight years of growing in the ground (I'm discounting the two years in the cramped buckets) and last year was the first year that we had what I would call a really good harvest.

About a week ago we visited an acquaintance 100 miles south of us who makes her living selling raspberries and blueberries. She must have a couple hundred blueberry bushes (crosses like ours) and they were tall (about four feet high) and a good three feet across. Wow. Lovely. I just stood with my mouth open in awe of her blueberry bushes. I don't know how old hers are (I should have asked), but it made me want to give up on ours. Small, puny, under-developed . . . but starting to bear. I think. I hope.

And . . . hey, I can grow great raspberries! Anybody wanna see my raspberries? Look how tall they are. Have you ever seen such tall raspberries? No, please, don't look at my blueberries. Please.


RuthieJ said...

I've got my 3 little blueberry bushes planted in pots on my deck (the garden catalog I bought them from said it could be done that way) I'll be curious to see how they do this year.
My neighbors have theirs planted in the ground in their garden and theirs don't look much bigger than yours either.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting those! I was the requestor. Here's a link showing my old bushes.

They're at least 20 years old, and haven't been maintained for maybe 10 years. I haven't lived here long enough to see if they bear, but I'm hopeful! BTW, I'm JOrdan, female, 43 yo and in upstate NY.

Mama Pea said...

Hey, Jordan! You live in a gorgeous area, so beautifully rural. Isn't it amazing how fast land will revert back to the wild when left alone? BUT looks to me, girl, like you're gonna have some blueberries to pick this year. Whenever I'm in my blueberry patch I'll be thinking of you and your restoration. I'm betting you can do it.

Do you have a blog? I'd love to follow it if you do. You could e-mail me if you care to share.

Mama Pea said...

Hi, Ruthie - Glad to hear somebody else is growing pygmy blueberry bushes! I shouldn't complain as the harvest last year was really good. They're not far enough along this year to tell how many flower buds there are but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Anonymous said...

I don't have a blog, but some other people have mentioned it - I'm beginning to seriously consider it! I'll let you know when I do...