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hendi_alex
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Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 7:58 am
Location: Central Sand Hills South Carolina

Blueberries - one of the most rewarding easy care fruits

Various varieties are available that provide for a long picking season. Plants are generally categorized as early, midseason, and late. The midseason and late varieties almost never get caught by a late frost, therefore will produce fruit most every year. At my location the blueberries have never a any kind of serious pest. Birds and squirrels eat a few, but the bushes are so productive that plenty of berries remain for my family and for export. There are two types of blueberries: northern varieties and southern high bush varieties. Many of the southern varieties seems to be more productive and make larger berries here in zone 8, but the northern varieties do just fine as well. Enrich the planting spot with peat moss or other acid organic material, water a couple of times per week until plants are established, and then sit back and enjoy blueberries for years. The plants bear early, often the first year of purchase if you buy large two year or three year plants. Only prune to remove old, weak wood. After the plants are established watering is only necessary during severe drought, though extra water may be desireable as the fruit is ripening. Smaller fruited varieties are better for baking such as muffins, but the larger fruited, at least for my taste, are better for poping in the mouth fresh or using as a topper on some vanilla ice cream. Blueberries are loaded with beneficial nutrients, especially powerful antioxidants and are a great addition to a balanced diet.

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applestar
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Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Ha! I only have 5 bushes, and only 3 producing this year, so it's a CONSTANT battle with wildlife to win the ripe berries :roll: :lol:

When the berries were still green, I covered with bird netting supported with bamboo topped with soda bottles. The groundHOG ripped several HUGE holes near the ground and ate the best and the biggest 6 berries we were waiting for :evil: The rabbits got through the holes and tried to make a nest (fur-lined and all) in the pine straw mulch. Then the catbirds have been sneaking in (I keep finding small rips high up -- either the catbird is actually cutting the black plastic netting or maybe squirrels?) The other day, the silly catbird got trapped INSIDE and I had the RESCUE it. :? I'm starting to think I have to build a chicken-wire cage around the bushes.... :(

Now the catbirds are eating practically ALL the ripe blackberries we've been waiting for, but at least they're not bothering the blueberries. I keep telling them that they can have the blackberries at the BACK of the patch that I can't get to. Robins can have the berries trailing NEAR THE GROUND. The ones at the FRONT of the patch are SUPPOSED TO BE OURS. :wink:

I guess I need to plant MORE blueberries bushes. :idea: Can I ground-layer them? :idea:

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hendi_alex
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Posts: 3567
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 7:58 am
Location: Central Sand Hills South Carolina

We had a couple of cat birds take up residence last year. Was the first bird to really take ownership of the blueberry bushes. When the bushes were covered with netting, the experience was similar to yours, except our cat got the catbird when it got trapped behind the netting!

I planted two southern blue berry bushes in the back part of my yard about 15-20 years ago. those bushes have naturally spread and now make up a blueberry hedge of about 25 feet. I don't know if the newer plants came from seeds of dropped fruit or if they are simply offshoots from spreading roots. But that hedge most always produces a large amount of fruit and the birds only take a limited amount. It seems the squirrels like the berries better than is the case with most of our resident birds, and we have at least 25-30 different species of birds in the yard every year. The problem with the cat birds last year was limited to about half a dozen plants in containers that were moved to the deck while the berries were ripening. Had to place them on the deck so that our yellow lab, Maggie, wouldn't strip the berries. She was around 16 years old and died recently, but boy did she love fruit, vegetables, and anything food. We had a battle for years, trying to devise a way to keep her out of the compost pile where we toss kitchen scraps and leftovers.

Blue berries are very similar to azaleas. Though I've never done ground layering with them, would expect that to work. Cuttings work very well. Quite frankly, I usually just look for a new branch coming from the ground that has a bit of root attached. Dig that, put it in a gallon pot for about a year and then move it to a permanent location.

I have the blueberry hedge of the souther vaiety, have about 6 of the northern variety in a different location, and have about 6-8 newer varieties which are stilll in planters. Will move them to the yard this year. But If the yard is large enough I would say yes, to the strategy of planting enough bushes such that there is plenty of fruit for both you and the animals.

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applestar
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Posts: 28242
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Well, my vigilance + distracting with the blackberries paid off. This morning, I sent the kids inside the birdnetting to pick the blueberries, and they very happily came out with about a pint of berries. We even got about 1/2 pint of blackberries that the catbirds missed! :lol: :wink:

I'm definitely going to try propagating my blueberries to increase the number of bushes.



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