Blueberries in CA Gold Country

ladybugventuresAugust 24, 2008

I have just moved to Angels Camp, CA and would like to grow blueberries here. I can't find much info on what would grow well with our HOT SUMMERS and fairly mild winters (four months of night temps in the 30's average). Anyone out there already tried blueberries in this climate? One chart says we are a Zone 7, another Zone 8. Also, has anyone had success with Washington Navel Oranges or Elberta Peaches in this sort of climate? I had both where I moved from and would dearly love to grow them here if possible!

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Blueberries can grow successfully in exposed locations with lots of sun, so I suspect they can be grown in your area. If you have hard water, which means that the well is located in a limestone rock formation, then it will be more difficult to raise blueberry shrubs. These plants need a loamy soil with pH around 5. If they are watered with hard water that contains significant dissolved limestone, the leaves will turn yellow, and the shrub will eventually die. It is possible to pre-treat the water, I use 5% white vinegar for this purpose. Commercial blueberry growers use sulfuric acid to pre-treat hard water. As an alternative, it is possible to set up a rain barrel, and collect rainwater for irrigation purposes. Blueberries grow wild in damp boggy places, and they will not tolerate dry roots.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2008 at 5:42PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


Your problem with both will be the occasional hard freeze in winter and spring. If possible plant the Washington navel where it gets some extra protection and heat in winter and spring. Like on the south or southwest side of a building. There are more cold hardy citrus that you might check out. Washington navel will likely get frozen back severely every few yrs unless you have a greenhouse.

Blueberries are possible if you can find the right cultivars. Northern highbush might be your best bet for late spring bloom although they don't like hot summers as much as southern highbush. Rabbiteye bloom later, will take the heat, but need cross polination. Southern highbush don't need pollination, will take the heat, have low chill requirement, but bloom early.

Good luck!!

The Fruitnut

    Bookmark   August 26, 2008 at 10:20AM
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Well, I'm in Sacramento, and I have several blueberries. My favorite was recommended to me by a salesperson at Eisley's nursery in Auburn, she said Southmoon was the best flavored, and was she right! I also have Misty, Reveille, Sharpblue, O'neal and a couple of others I can't remember. To deal with the heat, I have them in pots, and have them in full sun in spring and move them into afternoon shade after summer heat hits.
As far as peaches, I don't know if you are the same elevation as Auburn, but Placer County touts itself as the ideal place to grow stone fruit, hot enough to sweeten the fruit during the day, and cool enough at night to extend the growing season which adds more days to store sugar in the fruit.
You could try oranges, but I would keep them in pots so you can bring them in during a hard freeze.

Here is the Dave Wilson website on growing blueberries, it lists the recipe for the best soil mix:

Carla in Sac

    Bookmark   August 28, 2008 at 12:49AM
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lemonwater(Ca Zone 9/Sunset 15)

I can't advise you on the peaches or oranges since I don't know anything about those, but you shouldn't have a problem with blueberries! Both O'Neal and Sunshine Blue are growing well for me here, even in the heat, and I plan on getting Misty later as well. You can place them in part or filtered shade as well, but you may not get quite as much fruit.

The three varieties mentioned are Southern highbush, since we don't get many chill hours here in the Bay Area. They aren't high maintenance either. Just make sure you amend you soil well so it's rich in organic matter, well drained, and acidic enough, and keep it moist. You also want to be careful with what you fertilize your blueberries with, as some fertilizers can kill them. I'm a bit tired and can't recall what's in certain fertilizers that will do blueberries in, but a simple google search will tell you all you need to know.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2008 at 3:01AM
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