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. Here 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.
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.
Fortunately 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. They 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.
Two weeks ago, I was out in my garden or what is left of it as winter approaches and I saw a few luscious raspberries left on the vines. They had not frozen in the recent frosts. So there I was eating raspberries in December! And they were truly delicious! One big plus is that as I checked them there was no evidence of insect damage from the the Spotted Wing Drosophila fruit fly. I am guessing that it has been too cold for it to be here. Believe it or not the picture above was taken December 6th.
How Is It Possible to be Eating Raspberries in December
One reason that I would be able to be eating raspberries in December is because we have had a beautiful warm autumn. I think our first night freeze was in the last four weeks near the end of November. And it wasn’t a very bad frost or we wouldn’t still be getting raspberries!
I planted these raspberries 20 years ago. I got them from my Dad who still has raspberries growing in his garden and he is almost 86 years old. He doesn’t remember the name of them or where he got them. They are ever-bearing raspberries. That means that they bloom in the spring with the fruit ripening in the early summer. Then they bloom again in the fall for a second crop. My father commented that he has given a away a lot of these to friends and acquaintances. These raspberries are growing in many gardens as a result of my father sharing. Of course that is one of the fun things about gardening, sharing cuttings or seeds of unique plants that you have planted in your garden.