The 5 acres we live on at some time in a far distant pass was a cherry orchard. But that was years ago. We’re now fighting off blackberries, scotch broom and trying our best to “tame” the land. We’re also on a slope making every task just a little trickier. This past spring we finished planting our blueberry bushes. And when I say we, I mostly mean my husband. I was busy with our two, now right month old babes.
We started preparing the soil last year. We mixed in some topsoil to our clay packed soil and added sulfur since blueberries prefer a low pH. It takes about a year for the soil to metabolize the sulfur which is why we waited.
We planted 30 Dukes. We skimped a little on the recommended spacing going about 6 feet between rows and about 4 feet between plants. The Duke variety can get quite large but you can also scale them back with heavy pruning.
In addition to our amended soil we added some “50/50” mix from our local composting service and piled some sawdust mulch on top. Blueberry bushes have a shallow root structure and the mulch helps prevent competing weeds and adds organic matter.
After planting we plucked off all the blossoms to divert the energy from the fruit to encourage good root development. It’s disheartening knowing we won’t get any fruit this year but I’m sure it will pay off in the long run.
Our plants are two years old. We were told to wait next year to prune them.
A friend recommended this video.
It’s a great and thorough resource for pruning blueberry bushes of various sizes and stages of development.
Blueberries are one of my favorite fruits. I freeze and eat them year round in smoothies and even just a little thawed. I can’t wait till I’m picking them out of my own backyard!