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Blueberry Success

 
pollinator
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After a 3-year wait……..for breakfast I harvested handfuls of large, juicy blueberries from my polyculture, hugle-minded raised bed. It sits near the pond. I mulch with downed pine branches after storms and do not hand water.  

Three years ago, I planted 6, one-year old blueberry bushes in zone 6b (but this year they changed my zone) with comfrey and garlic as companions. I pinched the sweet blossoms off of the blueberries for two years so the energy could go into setting deep roots.

We have a lot of deer pressure here, but the garlic and fuzzy comfrey has kept the deer away from the precious blueberries.

It’s so exciting to pick the blueberries!

Yes, Permies, this is why we do what we do.

Be encouraged! It’s worth the wait and work.
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Blueberries 2024
Blueberries 2024
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Blueberry bushes
Blueberry bushes
 
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Location: Central Iowa - Zone 5b
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Yes! That is so exciting! You mention you're in zone 6b, can I ask where? What's your soil Ph like there? Did you have to acidify your soil at all, other than the pine branches? I'd love to grow blueberries but where I am, I think I'd constantly be babying the soil.
 
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Congratulations Angela! Those berries look amazing! I'm still keeping my fingers crossed - It looks like some of my bushes are going to give a reasonable crop this year, but no turning colour yet.
How far away do you plant the comfrey? I'm thinking that the roots will probably go deeper than the blueberries, but I'd be worried about the upper growth swamping the bushes....I had heard garlic was good for keeping away deer. I'm yet to try that; I'm thinking babbington's leek as it is better suited to my climate.
Do you have problems with birds or mice taking the berries? Any tips there? Thanks!
 
Angela Wilcox
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Krista, the new zone is now classified as 7a, though I have several microclimates here and a variety of pH readings. I’m in central Kentucky. Where are you?

When I put downed tree wood in the lower 2/3’s on the bed, I used pine logs, branches, twigs, and needles as an experiment.

I chose to put my blueberry raised beds at the pond’s edge, because water edges tend to be more acidic.

When I had the pond dug, I designed several little channels dug perpendicular to the pond to create little peninsulas. On the peninsulas I placed the raised beds.

Im attaching a photo so you can see how I designed the pond to extend its edges. The channels fill and ebb with wet weather rains and hot, dry late summer heat and evaporation.

The frogs LOVE hanging out in the shallow channels and when I walk near the beds the frogs leap into the pond.

Dragonflies hang out on the tall reeds beside the channels in the spring and summer.

If you zoom in you might see where the water channels are cut in between the raised beds.

Ignore the mowed cardboard mess. I had placed cardboard as walking paths and was going to put wood chips on the cardboard, but the guy who bushhogged for me mowed over my cardboard and shredded it!
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Extending Pond Edges
Extending Pond Edges
 
Angela Wilcox
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Nancy, I’m so happy to hear your blueberries have set fruit!  Yay!!

The beds are 4’x8’. I planted a tall blueberry variety on the north end of the beds and a different, shorter variety on the south end. I did not write down the names, silly me, but they are suited for this climate. The beds are south facing. The pond is south of the beds.

I put 4 comfrey nubs, and I mean tiny nubs in the middle of the beds between the blueberries. This acts as my comfrey nursery. I snip off leaves for mulch and activator for my compost.

Bumblebees love the comfrey!

If I left the comfrey alone, it would indeed shade out the blueberries and even encroach on their branches, however, I whack on the comfrey multiple times during the year, both leaves and roots.

When I plant a new fruit tree, I expose some of the comfrey roots in my ‘comfrey nursery’, cut some off, and plant 3 to 4 nubs around my tree. The comfrey leaves always fall over in a sad way upon transplanting, but they have never failed to come back. I now have over 30 comfrey plants on site.

In the newly attached photo, notice the cattle panels? I have grown pole beans on these, which offer a little shade in the hot summer.

So far, the birds have not discovered the blueberries, though they do perch on the cattle panels and leave a nice little phosphorus offering.

If the birds start to compete for the berries, I can put shade cloth over the cattle panels if needed.
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Bumblebee on Comfrey
Bumblebee on Comfrey
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Eastern Bluebird on Cattle Panel
Eastern Bluebird on Cattle Panel
 
Posts: 42
Location: Western NC, zone 6B/7A
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Angela, what beautiful berries! We haven't had tons of luck with ours. Funny enough, they were originally planted in the only spot on our property that actually has higher pH than the rest of the land (had it tested). We have successfully replanted mature bushes to the edge of the woods in early spring (I thought for sure they will die, but they transplanted surprisingly well), very acidic soil, and the plants themselves are very happy, lots of vegetative growth... but the birds get all the berries, I have yet to eat even one ripe one. Fake snakes did nothing to protect them so far Netting would be pretty difficult, so I guess I will just continue to fatten up our bird friends. Maybe they will leave us some goumi berries at least!
 
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Location: Clackamas Oregon, USA zone 8b
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Interesting about getting rid of blossoms to encourage root growth at first.  Mine is in a pot and last year was my first year with it, bought it as a small plant at the hardware store.  It had four blossoms and one berry last year, it had lots of blossoms and its got multiple clusters of berries growing.  Its in a pot, so I can't do anything about roots, as I'm still in the potted plants stage and likely will be for some time.
 
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