Monday, January 19, 2009

Blueberries

I picked up one blueberry at Home Depot as an experiment. Here is some info:

Blueberries could make a good fruit crop for home gardens since they require small space. At present, blueberry plants are not common in home plantings because the plants require highly acidic soil conditions for best results. Few backyard soils in Ohio are naturally acidic enough to grow quality blueberries. The grower of blueberries must, therefore, make extra effort to acidify the soil before plant establishment. Then, the acidity level must be maintained over the life of the planting. Due to the special concerns associated with the rather demanding soil requirements of growing the crop, the soil must be amended with organic matter and the pH must be corrected before proceeding to establish the planting.

Blueberry plants begin to produce fruit in the third season; however, they do not become fully productive for about six years. Once in production, it is necessary to protect the fruit from loss to birds.

Watering

Blueberry bushes have very shallow root systems and are very sensitive to water fluctuations. They need at least 1 to 2 inches of water per week. In dry seasons, supplemental watering is essential to obtain good yields of high quality products. However, do not apply water after early September unless soil is very dry.
Pruning

Blueberry plants normally do not need to be pruned for the first three years. Remove blossoms that appear in the year of planting and second year after planting to stimulate vigorous growth.

It is important to know the anatomy of a blueberry bush before attempting to prune blueberries (Figure 2). During the fourth year, the dormant plants should be pruned in mid-March. At this time, remove dead and weak branches and thin, terminal wood with small buds. Prune interior crossing branches to admit light to the center of the plant.

In the second through twelfth years, apply 1 to 1.5 pounds of ammonium sulfate (2 to 3 pounds of 10-10-10) per 100 feet of row each year for fertility and acidity maintenance. Apply 0.5 pound of the ammonium sulfate at bloom, and the remaining 0.5 pound 4 to 6 weeks later. If plant leaves become chlorotic, apply 2 to 3 ounces of ferrous sulfate or iron chelate around the base of the plants each year.

UPDATE: A summary of my berry-growing efforts is here http://arizonavictorygarden.blogspot.com/2009/05/growing-berries-in-arizona.html


4 comments:

  1. How did your blueberry experiment go?

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  2. The update on my blueberry experiment can be found here:

    http://arizonavictorygarden.blogspot.com/2009/05/growing-berries-in-arizona.html

    Basically, it did not work out, but it may just have needed more water.

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  3. gntlsoulvr@aol.comMarch 20, 2012 at 8:08 AM

    I live in the maryvale are of west Phoenix near Glendale and I want to grow blueberries, blackberries and raspberries eitther in containers or the ground. What varieties of the blueberries, balckberries and raspberries are for the zone 13 area where I live? Sincerely--Larry

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  4. I'm in Phoenix, not far from you, and I've grown blackberries for years in the ground. I've had incredible luck with a system I learned in Germany: prune the plants ruthlessly. Eventually you'll end up with a sturdy "trunk". Let it sprout a couple branches. The berries you will get are incredible: much larger and very sweet. I like to wait til the fruit has a matte finish--if you want them sweet anyway.
    The big problem with whatever variety I have is that they start ripening the end of April. They will bear into June, but if you have them in full sun, the berries fry. Even the birds aren't interested. Sun screens help, but nothing seems to help once June hits.

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