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Re: Blueberries (Walter Romanowski)

  • Subject: [cg] Re: Blueberries (Walter Romanowski)
  • From: Don Boekelheide dboekelheide@yahoo.com
  • Date: Mon, 22 May 2006 13:48:48 -0700 (PDT)

Hi, Walter,

One of the few things I can grow better in NC than I
did back in California before we moved is blueberries,
which thrive here. However, even when I left - been
over 10 years now - there was interest in blueberry
out West.

Mike (surf's up!) is right about blueberries liking
acidic soil conditions, which we have here naturally.
And you are right, they generally like soil conditions
similar to azaleas. I use composted pine fines instead
of peat moss, which I'm not all that fond of
(unsustainably harvested, most of it; when it dries,
watch out, it's hydrophobic! etc, etc). Of course,
pine is easy to get here - they bag it up in GA and SC
and send it to our local garden centers.

Here in the Piedmont/mid-South, the best time to plant
is probably fall, though many folks like to wait for
early spring after the soil warms up a bit. I wouldn't
stick yours in the ground (San Diego?) in the face of
full-on summer - go to the beach instead. I'd suggest
rainy season, Jan/Feb/Mar. When transplanting, keep
those roots up high (like azaleas) and use lots of
mulch.

Along with soil, you'll need to mind your watering
technique - these are not desert or Mediterranean
plants, and will need a fair amount of water, applied
carefully and regularly since they are so shallow
rooted. 

Generally, you'll need at least two different
cultivars to ensure pollination for excellent
production, I believe (true of many other fruiting
plants- pears come to mind). Again, Mike is right,
other flowers won't help in this regard - you need
different blueberry cultivars (ie. Sharpblue and
Misty, for instance, for Southern highbush (Vaccinium
Vaccinium corymbosum, darrowii hybrid), or Tiffblue
and Climax (Vaccinium virgatum (or ashei)) for
rabbiteye. Mine are grouped in 7s/5s etc, with
inkberry holly, azaleas, Kalmia, Itea...with a big ol'
oakleaf hydrangea elbowing in, and dogwoods on the
edges. 

I've done best in NC (Charlotte) with rabbiteye types
as opposed to Southern highbush, and I'd try them as
well in California, personally. I especially like
Tiffblue, absolutely knockout fall colors that hang on
for weeks. I'm currently evaluating a bunch of
cultivars at home (and hopefully soon as a community
project in a couple of community gardens, including
the Urban Ministry community garden for homeless
folks), but so far Tiffblue is a prizewinner.

Besides the Pacific (which I miss every day), you also
have a lot of ag research to plug into in California
(location of our upcoming ACGA conference in
August...). UC Davis has a bunch of info, including
some organic leads I think. Check this out as a
starting point:
 
http://www.sbceo.k12.ca.us/~uccesb1/sf62002.htm

Good luck!

Don Boekelheide
Charlotte, NC
(formerly San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Bolinas...)


> Today's Topics:
> 
>   1. Blueberries (Walter Romanowski)
>   2. Re: Blueberries (Mike McGrath)
> Date: Sun, 21 May 2006 19:52:18 -0700 (PDT)
> From: Walter Romanowski <walter_francis@yahoo.com>
> To: community_garden@mallorn.com
> Subject: [cg] Blueberries
> 
> Here in zone 10 in So. Cal., we don't have much
> experience with blueberries.  The southern highbush
> plants seem to be our answer, so far.  So,
> 
> When should they be fertilized?  If I want to
> transplant one to a different raised bed, when would
> 
> be the best time to do this?
> 
> Are there any companion flowers that would help with
> pollination?  Seems azaleas would be an obvious
> choice
> since they also like lower pH conditions.
> 
> Thanks,
> 
> Walter

> Message: 2

> From: "Mike McGrath" <MikeMcG@PTD.net>

> 
> Zone 10?! Surf's up!
>     Walt--they love to be fed a mulch of peat moss
> with compost on top at 
> anytime. Move when dormant--tough where you live but
> as far away from 
> flowering and fruiting as possible.
>     Flowering plants nearby will lure in more
> pollinATORS, but only more 
> blueberry plants will give you more berries on each
> plant.
>                                             Good
> luck,  mike McG


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