Wake up, Blueberries

blueberryLittle pink and white lantern shaped flowers are popping out all over SunnysideLOCAL Farm.  That means one thing….the blueberry bushes are waking up from their dormancy and bud break is rampant.  This signal tells you that it’s time for some early spring care.  If you have bushes, this is probably the most work you’ll do with them all year (which isn’t much).  Below we will give you our suggestions for Wake-Up Care and show you how our bushes are doing.  Read on.

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Wake-Up Care includes:  fertilizing, light pruning, irrigation system check and observing the general condition of the bushes.  Our fertilizer is a nutrient rich cocktail.  Part one is a 50/50 mix of peat moss and organic compost.  Part two is a balanced organic fertilizer specifically for acid loving plants.  Blueberries require Low nitrogen fertilization and the acid lovers fertilizer has an NPK (Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium) rating of 5-5-3.  Too much nitrogen produces lots of foliage at the expense of berries.  E.B. Stone is my company of choice when it comes to most growing amendments.

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To take care of 70 blueberry bushes, I pack a toolbox to roll around the grove with fertilizer and compost soil mix.  In the wheelbarrow you’ll notice the 50/50/compost mix, acid fertilizer and tools for correcting irrigation problems and doing some light pruning.   OFF WE GO!

2014-02-13_10-24-39_274This photo shows a grouping of Southmoon Southern Highbush blueberries.  They are budding like crazy and waiting for the nutrients that will carry them through their producing season.  Hoops provide structure for bird netting during berry production and shade cloth in the heat of summer.

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                     

2014-02-13_10-38-05_706To Fertilize:  Remove old leaves that have fallen onto the soil over the winter.  This allows the organic fertilizer to have direct contact with the soil.  Add a heaping garden spade full of Acid Lovers fertilizer to soil surface. DO NOT TILL IN.  Blueberries have VERY shallow roots and working the area with tools could damage precious new growth.  Next, you will add the 50/50 compost-peat moss mix.  Check the soil level in your pot.  If you have had the bush for a few years soil will settle and compact.  The amount you add to each pot may vary because of this.  Now give the bush a good soaking of water to get all the nutrients filtering down.

 

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Another part of Wake Up Care is light pruning.  While you have this opportunity to look closely at the bushes clip out any dead wood that may have been missed from last season.  You don’t want to do any major pruning until after harvest.  This could disrupt your fruiting.  If you are using drip irrigation, now is a good time to check your lines and emitters to make sure flow of water is optimal for the upcoming season.

2014-02-13_10-46-57_870While you are in a position to observe, look at the leaves.  Do you see any signs of Chlorosis, a condition signaled by light yellow leaves with darker green veins.  One of the causes of this is a soil environment that has become too alkaline for the plant and iron absorption is prevented.  In this case, add a handful of Soil Sulfur with the fertilizer and water in.  Within a week or two color should return to a nice forest green.

 

 

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A cove of blueberry bushes basking in the warm spring sun.  The branches look a little skinny and twiggy, but new leaves are unfurling everyday and within weeks there will be a lush green canopy.  They are well fed now, loaded with blossoms and mid-April we are looking forward to a sensational harvest.  Can’t wait!

If you have questions or suggestions, please respond to this post.  That way we will help each other raise even more delicious berries in the future.  Have a bountiful berry season, Mindy.blueberry in baskets

 

 

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5 Responses to Wake up, Blueberries

  1. Elayne says:

    Great tips with pictures that are helpful! Do you grow the blueberry bushes in their individual pots the whole time?

    Thanks for a great walk through the process!

  2. mindy says:

    Hey there, Are you thinking of growing some? My Southmoon Variety was actually bred at University of Florida. That’s why they do so well in the warm SoCal climate. I grow a very large amount in 5 gallon pots that the customer can transplant into a container of their choice or in the ground. This year, for the first time, we’ll be selling mature (4 year old) bushes in a 15 gallon lifetime Smart Pot. Everything including fabulous organic soil and amendments are included. In this case, all that is required is annual fertilizing and pruning. Thanks for the question my awesome friend!

  3. julia says:

    I have 6 different varieties that I bought last year. Of those they all look alive with little buds on the branches but only one has leaves. I planted them in a mix of potting soil and peat moss and have added fast acting sulfur as well as coffee grounds. Yesterday I gave them a dose of diluted acid whey (from yogurt making). The problem is they’ve had little buds and the wood looks alive but no leaves on 5 of them. I’ve been waiting thinking they will wake up soon but no I’m starting to wonder. Do all varieties com out or dormancy at the same time? I’ve checked the soil acidity and it is slightly alkaline so I keep adding things to bring it down and I have a rain barrel just for the blueberries!

  4. Ray says:

    hi, thank you for your posts, and all the pictures are beautiful and look delicious.
    I have started a small hanging fruit garden on both sides of my front deck,there boxes
    4′ x 9″ x 9″ I would like to buy some low bearing blueberry bushes and I was wondering if anybody had any ideas of where I could buy them? I live in the mountains of San Bernardino, maybe one of you knows a place it would be a great help. Thank you

    Ray,

  5. Laura says:

    We bought two blueberry bushes from Sunnyside local two years ago. They have grown beautifully and produce tons of fruit. Thanks Mindy

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