Category Archives: Gardening

Planting Blueberries

Planting blueberries will give you blueberries for years to come.  Here are a few tips that I have learned about for healthy blueberries.  A real plus for blueberries is that they are native plants.  Of course, after you read my previous post about protect blueberries from birds, you will understand why they are native plants.  Native plants feed the local wildlife whether they are insects, birds or small animals.  Blueberries definitely feed the birds if you don’t take measures to protect them for yourself!!

Planting Blueberries from Herring Run Nursery

Herring Run Nursery is a native plant nursery in the Baltimore area.  They carry several types of blueberries.  They are open on weekends or by appointment during the week.  They carry lots of native plants, shrubs and trees.  The workers at Herring Run can give you advice on what you might like to plant in your garden to attract native pollinators, birds or small animals.  Look up native plant nurseries where you live for the best in native plants.

When planting blueberry bushes it is best to plant at least two different types for the best pollination results.  Blueberry bushes are self-pollinating but do better and create larger fruits through cross pollination with different type bushes.

Blueberries Like Acidic Soil

When I dug the holes to plant my blueberry plants, I added a lot of peat moss to the soil to make the soil more acidic.  Blueberries grow best in acidic soil.  Then I mulched them with pine bark mulch which is also acidic.  You could also use pine needles as mulch if you have those available.

Protecting Blueberries in the Winter

I started with just one blueberry bush a few years ago.  This bush kept its leaves through the winter.  Since we now have deer in our neighborhood, I wanted to protect the blueberry from being eaten.  I put deer netting around the bush.  I read that the deer don’t like the feel of the netting so they won’t eat whatever it is covering.  In the meantime, the leaves were not eaten during the winter.   Planting BlueberriesHere is a picture of the blueberries growing within the netting.  It is clear that the netting would not protect these berries from the birds.  I imagine that the bird could just pluck off a blueberry through the netting.  So I covered my plant with row cover material.

Protect Blueberries From Birds

If you are growing blueberries, your main focus should be to protect blueberries from birds. You might not realize this in the beginning but it is very important to protect blueberries from birds if you want to eat any yourself.

Blueberry Bush US National ArboretumFortunately I learned this lesson the easy way.  I didn’t lose all my blueberries to the birds.  I only lost about half of them.  Here is the story:  Last June I spent a lovely afternoon at the US National Arboretum.  I highly recommend visiting the US National Arboretum if you have the chance.  The gardens are absolutely beautiful. There are meandering paths with choice places to sit and relax and enjoy the flowers and landscaping.  Here is a picture of the place I chose to sit and have lunch.  You can see the US Capitol in the background and the bush in front of the tree trunk is a blueberry bush!  As you can see I found a shady spot where I could eat my lunch!

How I Learned to Protect Blueberries From Birds

I was eating my lunch and relaxing.  I noticed that birds kept alighting on the bushes and pecking on something.  As I looked closer I realized that there were several blueberry bushes in front of me.  The birds were have a great lunch also!!  The thing that really surprised me was that the blueberries weren’t even close to being ripe.  They were just starting to get a purplish-bluish tinge to them!  The birds didn’t care if they were ripe.  Protect Blueberries From BirdsThey were taking the berries before they even had a chance to get ripe for us!  They must like them that way.  This was a great learning lesson for me. You need to protect blueberries from birds before they are even ripe.  Here is a closeup of one of the blueberry bushes and you can see that a lot of the berries have been eaten!

One Idea to Protect Blueberries From Birds

I posted a few years ago on protecting berries from the birds using row covers.  These row covers work very well to save your berries!  Just make sure you get them on early enough before the birds start eating the berries.


Deer Eating Sunflowers

This is becoming a big problem:  deer eating sunflowers!  Here we are again this year with this problem.  I didn’t think I would ever have to deal with this problem of deer eating sunflowers because I live in a city neighborhood.  I haven’t actually seen the deer this year but my neighbors have.  I did see the sunflowers eaten in my son’s garden in Cleveland.  I saw the tops eaten right off.  There are deer all over the place in his neighborhood even a fawn looking in his sliding glass door.

What to Do?  Deer Eating Sunflowers

Sunflower Leaves Eaten by DeerI had this beautiful volunteer sunflower growing.  It grew 2-3 feet tall already.  We went away for a few days and something had eaten 3-4 leaves.  Something had also chomped off some baby sunflower plants, in a different part of the garden,  You can see a few of the stems in this picture.  Apparently the something eating these plants is deer. Burdock is growing in the background.  The deer ate one or two bites out of those huge leaves but not so much.  Apparently the deer don’t like burdock so much!

In the past the deer ate my green beans.  I put a plastic fence around the green beans which protected them quite well.  It is just a pain when you want to pick green beans.  But it is better to move the fence and have green beans to pick then to have the deer eat them. I will put a fence around my baby sunflowers but when they get larger I am not sure what to do Deer Eats Sunfloweryet.  Here is a pic of one of the baby plants eaten off.

The plant looks quite large but it was only about 10 inches high.  The large burdock leaf in the background makes the sunflower look bigger.  Last year we tried garlic repellent around the plants.  They deer still ate them.  I don’t know if it would have been worse without the garlic??  Also I have put out vinegar in milk jugs to protect my raspberries from the drosophilia fruit fly.  I am wondering if vinegar is a repellent because we didn’t have so much deer damage when we kept up with the vinegar.

Now All the Leaves Are Eaten

Deer Eating SunflowersWhen I went out this morning my beautiful big sunflower which you see in the top picture was gone.  Here is a picture of the damage.  All the sunflower leaves are gone.  Alas!  I just gotta get those sunflowers big enough so the deer can’t reach the leaves!

Today I searched the internet for a solution to the deer problem.  I will post when I have any good news.  At the moment I am using plastic fencing and vinegar in milk bottles.  Check out this link for keeping deer out of your garden.