Garden

Perennial Plant Spotlight: Blueberries

My favorite fruit!

To add on to previous posts on blueberries, their acidic soil requirement as well as my love for them has earned most of an entire garden bet to themselves. I’ll be honest right now and say I have little faith in acidifying soils and think most of the efforts made only have temporary and slight effects if not a complete waste. Unless container gardening, the soil mass coupled with pH buffering capacity of healthy soils negates any efforts to acidify it. After all, blueberries in nature are not necessarily found in acidic conditions. So my maintenance plan is going to be similar to everywhere else: Lots and lots of organic matter. I might experiment with vinegar infused waterings, pine needle mulching or coffee ground integration to see if any differences are made apparent.

Some blueberry strains also require pollination, and many of those that don’t show an increased yield from cross-pollination. Luckily the bees will happily complete this task. Varieties that ripen all throughout the season will provide a continuous harvest. They will be planted 3 feet apart which is a bit more intensively than the generally recommended 4-5 feet apart.

Experimentation with companions will be done. Some will receive a ground cover of nitrogen fixing clover while others will have a living mulch of strawberries. Bay laurel bushes will be sparsely companion planted as an insect repellant and source of bay leaves for seasoning. Yarrow flowers will be planted as a perennial predatory insect attractant as well as a bee nectar source.

Cultivar selection will depend on local availability, but this chart provides a reference from my main resource: Specialty Crop Profile: Blueberries

Table 1. Blueberry cultivar recommendations for Virginia
Cultivar
Type1
Area2
Season
Comments
Duke NHB M, NP Early
Collins NHB M, NP
Patriot NHB M, NP Early
Blueray NHB M, NP Mid
Bluecrop NHB M, NP Mid
Chandler NHB All Mid-late
Darrow NHB All Late-mid
Jersey NHB M, NP Late
Elliott NHB M, NP V.late

The blueberry and companion plans:

blueberryTeaser

 

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