Hello to our new friends at the Phelan Farmers Market. On our first visit to your new market I talked to many of you about growing the amazing blueberry bushes in your Growing Zone 8b. After listening to you, this is what I understand to be your biggest obstacles to growing in the High Desert.
COLD IN WINTER MONTHS
Zone 8b: 15F to 20F. The average first frost in 92371 is between November 1 – 10, while the average last frost occurs between April 1 – 10. Ecoregion 92371 averages 91 – 120 days per year where the temperatue exceeds 86°F. The average annual high temperature in 92371 is 73°F and the average annual low temperature is 43°F. The average high temperature in July (Summer) is 91°F, while the average high temperature in January (Winter) is 54°F.
Here are two helpful links that were published from growers in Arizona regarding growing blueberries in heat. The heat they encounter is more than Phelan and they are achieving success by following a few simple rules. Read on….
One customer that I spoke with on Monday suggested trellising bushes. This would be a great idea for supporting young bushes until they adapt to the wind conditions, and they do. Mature branches coming from the ground take on a barky, woody texture when the plants are between 4 and 5 years old. Its branching support system is very strong by then. Another idea would be to use a tomato cage until strong woody branches have formed.
I heard that you are overrun with rabbits, but I never knew you had so many kinds of rabbits. I found this photo and it looks like this set up could be useful on many levels.
Overwintering your blueberries – While blueberries are tough plants, if you live in a cold area, and are overwintering them in their containers, move them against a building or into a protected area to keep them out of the wind. You can also mulch your plants with straw or wrap them in burlap. In the winter, while plants are dormant, they don’t need much water, but don’t let them completely dry out.
After taking these issues into consideration follow the growing guides for blueberry bushes.