It's blueberry planting time

scottokla(7)September 20, 2009

Atwoods has some great looking rabbiteye varieties at fair prices, and Lowes has some good northern highbush varieties out now. This is a great time to plant them.

I have never seen blueberry plants as nice looking as the ones my local Atwoods has. I wish I could remember the varieties, but they don't stick in my mind since I have not tried them. They are a couple dollars cheaper than similar sized ones at Lowes.

Lowes has blueberries from two sources. One is in Oregon and the other is the place over near Tahlequah. The local ones are a dollar higher than the last few years, and the plants are fair looking. I have planted a lot from this place in the past and they have done very well. The Oregon plants are Duke and Draper. I don't like the Duke taste very much, but I have read great things about the new variety Draper, so I bought 6 of them to extend one of my rows a bit.

I noticed yesterday that the deer have eaten every leaf off of my 4 thornless blackberry plants, but haven't damaged any of my blueberries (yet) nor any of the thorned berries that are right next to them. That is a good sign. I have 3 does and their 4 fawns that spend the night in various places around my house. They seem to browse until about 10:00 and then lie down out in the open until just before daybreak. They get along fine with my border collie as long as I don't step outside. If I do the dog runs them off. They seem to be getting much more brave about staying near the garden and berries even though there is plenty of food all around. It must be the clover that has really come on all around the house lately.

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p_mac(7)

So noted...and I think I'll head into Norman tomorrow to see what they have. I live where blueberries like....and I like them too! Thanks for the heads-up! I'll watch because I have this large...blank ....spot...it needs some blue-berry love!

I tried to grow these when I lived in the City...with little success. I'm really hoping that my change in logistics will help.

pk

    Bookmark   September 20, 2009 at 1:33AM
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macmex

We want to plant a couple this year. So, thanks for the heads up! I'll have to check into this, this week. Hopefully I can find some here in Tahlequah.

George

    Bookmark   September 20, 2009 at 6:27AM
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p_mac(7)

Well....I did it. Didn't mean to but I couldn't help myself. They were half price! Hope I did okay....I'm looking to you, Scott (and others!), for advice.

I bought 5 Blue Ray bushes.....from what I've read so far that's a good one. I have sand....what do I need to do to amend the dirt before I plant them? I know they're high acid lovers....and I have lots of pine needles for mulch. Should I add some pecan shells or something else like that? Also, living rural we have deer...so should I cage them or will the deer leave them alone if I have other food for them? We have a corn feeder about 30 ft from their intended spot. But that spot isn't a "must"....I've thought about planting them inside the confines of the original small area...but that one is the area with the nematode problem although it appears that it's now limited to one 20% area that I can plant away from...and did I get enough? Should I go back for a few more? I bought the best 5 out of 10...but I can also try another Lowes...or somewhere.

I'm not hard pressed to plant tomorrow so I would really appreciate any help my fellow gardeners can lend! Can you believe we're at the end of the gardening season and here I am starting something else? Well...that's a woman's perrogative! LOL!

Paula

    Bookmark   September 26, 2009 at 10:36PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Paula,

Hopefully Scott will be on the forum tonight or tomorrow and will see this and tell you which soil mix has worked best for him. I know they need lots and lots and lots of acidity, so lots of peat moss is what is best for them.

In case Scott isn't on the forum this weekend, I've linked a previous thread. On that thread you'll find links to the OSU Extension Service and Tulsa Master Gardeners' blueberry planting/growing info.

Whether deer will bother them or not is highly variable. Sometimes deer do, sometimes they don't. I don't think Scott has had a lot of trouble with the deer and his plants.

The gardening season never really ends...you know that right? LOL

Fall and winter are a fantastic time to plant all kinds of trees and shrubs, and some perennials (depending on where you live and how cold it gets there in winter) so they can make good root growth before they have to face next summer's heat.

Dawn

Here is a link that might be useful: Previous Blueberry Thread

    Bookmark   September 26, 2009 at 11:07PM
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p_mac(7)

Thanks, Dawn! I had started reading that thread but when it turned to "pecans" I thought it was over! I should have read further down!

The good news, I bought a good variety for our area...the bad news....I'm afraid I should have gotten all 10!!! Isn't going to stop me from maybe going back to the Norman Lowes and getting more! (the 5 I got were from the Moore Lowes.)

I've gained a lot of knowledge just from that link, so maybe Scott won't have to repeat himself and can just update me. My next purchase will be some peat moss and manure to amend the soil.

And yes, I've learned that with gardening, it's never ending! No matter what the season....one is always planning ahead for the next whatever! Next to death & taxes, it's the next thing one can ALWAYS count on! I love it!

I can't believe you don't like blueberries....but your saving grace is your love of tomatoes and peppers. LOL!!!!! (hope you know that's my dry way of razzin' you!)

Paula

    Bookmark   September 26, 2009 at 11:40PM
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soonergrandmom

I bought two bare root plants in the VERY early spring and planted them in containers. It was still getting very cold at night so I had to drag them into a shed many nights. They made it through the summer and are looking good although one is much "fuller" and branched out than the other. I am a little concerned about putting them in the ground. I may slip one out of a pot and look at the root system. If they are not too crowded, I may just leave them in the pots. I guess I could bury the pot in the ground for the winter. Any advice?

    Bookmark   September 26, 2009 at 11:52PM
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p_mac(7)

Carol - I don't know what anyone else might suggest, but I would. Don't have a LOT of experience with this but several years ago, I ordered Pampass Grass from Michigan Bulb. DH wanted some and to buy the gallon size at the home centers was a bit more than I wanted to spend. Of course, you know those puny little things came bare root. I planted 6 each in 2 large pots and nursed them over the summer. When fall came, they still weren't large enough to make it thru a transplant, so DH dug 2 large holes and we planted them. They made it thru the winter just fine! They still aren't the strongest plants I've ever seen. We planted them out on either side of the tin-horn for our drive. And guess what, I ended up buying established one's this year and planted beside them.....

I'd plant the pots in the ground for this year just to give them a bit more time. Good luck!

Paula

    Bookmark   September 27, 2009 at 12:16PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Paula,

I am not crazy about blueberries, but sometimes I'll eat them in a blueberry-pomegranate trail mix we buy at CostCo and sometimes I'll eat them in muffins or in a mixed berry cobbler. Maybe if I grow some for the rest of the family and eat them fresh, I'll like them more. You never know. And, yes, I knew you were razzing me! : )

Carol,

I think Paula has given you good advice on sinking the pots into the ground. Y'all get pretty cold up there some years and the ground will better insulate the roots and the struggling/recovering plants will have a chance to get stronger root systems growing over the winter before you transplant them.

I can't believe we're having a blueberry discussion without Scott!

Dawn

    Bookmark   September 27, 2009 at 2:18PM
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soonergrandmom

I don't know where Scot is, but I'll bet that he IS NOT out looking for cougars to take pictures of. LOL

I bought the kind of blueberries he recommended last year, but right now I can't remember what I bought, maybe Blueray. I think I kept the plastic bags in my potting area tho. He didn't recommend the bare root kind, but that was what I had available to me and they turned out OK. I have been afraid to move them to the ground so I think I will plant the whole pot and let them have another year to grow.

Dawn, My husband is the big blueberry fan at our house. I think they are OK in muffins or something like that, but I really don't care for blueberry pie or jelly or anything that is all blueberry.......unless I am in Alaska. In Alaska the wild blueberries are very big and tart and never get sweet. A lot of people used them for pies but they put something else on the bottom (like a cheese cake type filling) then one layer of blueberries. I loved it that way. I think blueberries already taste sweet, so when you add sugar they are just too sweet for me, except for the Alaska tart ones.

Another reason that I haven't planted mine is that I don't know where to plant them. You would think after 4 or 5 months I would have that figured out, but things keep changing at my house. LOL

    Bookmark   September 27, 2009 at 4:22PM
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p_mac(7)

Carol - don't feel bad about not knowing where to put them! I bought 5 in gal. containers and I'm still not sure where they'll end up!!!

And I rarely, if EVER, put sugar on mine. I just love their taste, and so does my grandson. He & I fight over the ones I toss into fruit salad (of course, he always wins!) From what I've read, the Blueray are really plump and tangy sweet. We'll see. I love to put them with vanilla yogurt and sprinkle Grapenuts on top of that. Yum, yum! Maybe I'll convert Dawn....eventually...:)!

Guess Scott's having a busy weekend...which I can understand. Time to clean up the garden, bring in any fencing, stakes, sprinkler, hoses....(sheesh...I'm tired just listing all that).

pk

    Bookmark   September 27, 2009 at 9:09PM
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soonergrandmom

My guess would be that he is cleaning up under pecan trees getting ready for the harvest. It's not too far away. In fact, it sounds like a war zone here. The black walnuts are falling and hitting on the metal roofs and also falling into the road. When a car drives over one they pop very loudly. I usually get out and sweep the street when they start falling heavily just so I don't have to here them pop everytime a car goes by.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2009 at 10:26PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Paula,

I can't bring in anything yet because my garden is still in full production with no empty rows. I hate to admit it, but I am starting to get a little tired of the garden. When the first freeze arrives, I'll probably be sad for half a day, and then I'll be relieved that I don't have to figure out what to do with any more peppers.

Our pecan tree is just loaded with pecans, but I think Scott said earlier this year that he didn't have a very good crop. Did I imagine that?

Carol, Our pecans start falling in November most years, but some years they are just as stubborn as can be and hang on to the tree forever.

I want for the pecans to hurry up and mature because I want to make some pecan-flavored syrup and some pralines for the holidays.

Dawn

    Bookmark   September 28, 2009 at 5:33AM
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soonergrandmom

Dawn - I am glad you are having a good pecan crop because I buy mine in Carter county and when the harvest is good the prices are less. LOL Actually I buy wholesale anyway, but since I normally buy about a hundred pounds, it makes a difference. I really should buy more than that because all of my children always want pecans. Sometimes they get a gallon of shelled pecans for Christmas - and nothing else. We are just not big on gift giving in our family, and normally only give gifts to the children. Most of our grandchildren are old enough that they would rather have money than a gift tho, so that makes it easy. Expensive, but easy. We have 16 grandchildren so it adds up fast. I have three that are now adults, so they get dropped from the list, but even at that, 13 birthday checks, and 13 Christmas checks add up. My husband says we are blessed that we have always been able to do it, and I guess he is right, and even at that, it is not a big check that each one gets.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2009 at 9:51AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Carol,

I could have sworn we had a freeze either while or just after the tree blossomed, so I thought we had lost our pecan crop almost before it got started. To my surprise, though, we have oodles of peacans. I hope the same is true in Carter County.

Fred lives just a mile or so away and his pecans are dropping prematurely because twig girdlers are getting them. Mine are fine though.

That's a lot of grandkids to buy gifts for. Y'all are fortunate that you can afford to do that, even if it isn't a big check---it is the thought that counts!!!

Dawn

    Bookmark   September 28, 2009 at 10:10AM
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scottokla(7)

I'm back.

Actually, I WAS out looking for mountain lions to take pictures of!!! I have been in Yellowstone and the Beartooth Mountains for the last 4 days. Lots of wildlife, but no lions.

I haven't found Bluerays here so I am jealous. I need 3 more plants of them to finish a row.

I can pass along what was recommended to me and what has worked well. If you can afford it, use straight peat moss at about 2 cubic feet per plant. I made a circle about 8 inches deep and about 2 feet wide and put the spangnum (sp?) peat moss in there. It is hard to get it thoroughly wet. I put the plant in the middle of the circle at the same depth as it was in the pot. Then I covered with about 3 inches of mulch. I have used pine mulch, pine needles, and pecan shells. My best experience was with pecan shells, but they are expensive if you have to buy them.

Before making the hole for the peat moss I added some course sand and tilled it up to ensure good drainage. I think I overdid this part because my beds are so high now that it is hard to keep them watered.

You can NEVER let the roots get dry with blueberries. Be prepared to have to baby them forever. You will also have to fertilize regularly if you go with 100% peat moss. I use diluted Miracid and fee them about 5 times per year.

If you have a specific question that I didn't answer, let me know. I am not an expert, but I know a lot more than I did a few years ago.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2009 at 6:32PM
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mulberryknob

What I don't understand is why the native huckleberries can live on the moisture that falls from the sky out on rocky ridges and endure summer drought and return to bear in succeeding years. But blueberries have to be kept constantly wet.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2009 at 7:12PM
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p_mac(7)

YEA! SCOTT'S BACK!!! And Yellowstone???? DH & I have dreams of visiting there! Big dreams...DH has been once and would love to go back. Me, never been but would LOVE to see it!

And thanks so much for your input! After all I've read on here (from your previous posts)...my first reaction was 2 cu. ft of peat per plant, but then I was afraid that was overkill. Your recommendation put those fears away. Would manure not be needed? I'm 3 miles north of Lake Thunderbird and it's basically ALL sand anywhere so I'm concerned about nutrients. I guess if I feed them like you recommend, that will take care of that worry, right?

They're still on the back deck in pots and I'm watering them daily, but it's getting chilly here at nite so I'm planning on getting them in the dirt by this weekend. There's a pecan place over on Highway 9, so I'm just going to get some pecan hulls there and add that to the pine needles that are in abundance at the back of our property for mulch.

ok.....here I go! But I'm sure I'll be back ...I've already got questions about watering over the winter months. I so VERY much want these to take hold!!!

Paula

    Bookmark   September 28, 2009 at 9:51PM
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kdvw

I am extremely new to blueberry gardening (as in I found this post today and went out and bought 3 plants this afternoon). I'm trying to read all that I can and appreciate all the information you all have provided here! I do have a couple questions.

1) Will incorporating coffee grounds into the soil decrease my pH to a desirable level? (I'm going to test my pH tomorrow)

2) My neighbors have a pecan tree that drops tons of pecans into my yard. It seems that many of them (that aren't eaten by squirrels) are rotten on the inside. Would they still be suitable for mulch or could they be a source of disease?

Again, thank you all for you advice and knowledge. I look forward to reading and learning more, and hopefully contributing someday!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2009 at 11:08PM
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scottokla(7)

Man, you're putting too much pressure on me. I'm still not comfortable with my own plants, much less telling people how to take care of theirs.

Make sure you get pecan shells, and not shucks. There will still be some little pieces of pecan meat in them that may attract bugs and mice for a few weeks. I have picked up really old pecan shells from a place on HW9 east of Shawnee. Great people. They let me have the shells back from the bulk load they processed for me.

Blueray is my favorite of all my varieties, but I don't have very many of them producing so far. I would make sure you have used round-up to kill any bermuda before you plant. Most other weeds can be dealt with by using the thick mulch. Go out about two feet with the mulch and weed-free area. Plant them about 4 or 5 feet apart. You might want to consider sprinkling some sulphur around the ground just outside the peat moss area before you put the mulch over it. You can't have standing water on the plants, but you need to always have the roots damp. Good luck with that. IF YOU HAVE very sandy native soil, you should probably just start level with the current ground and not build the bed up any. In other words, don't use the native soil from the hole to raise up the area; remove it instead and just replace it with the peat moss.

Also, you should have your native soil and irrigation water tested so you know what you may need to do each year in order to keep the pH in the correct range. I got some good information from some other forums here as I got started.

I think you should just stick with 5 plants for the first year and then get 5 more next year from another type to finish your rows. Also, the deer may eat them during the winter if they can get to them, so be careful.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2009 at 11:27PM
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kdvw

What is the purpose of replacing soil w/ peat moss?

    Bookmark   October 1, 2009 at 11:23AM
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gamebird

I think the purpose is to get the pH of the soil down to where it is very, very acidic, which I've heard blueberry plants love. Also, the organic matter is good for any plant.

What I wonder is if my soil is acidic enough already, with a pH of 4.5?

    Bookmark   October 1, 2009 at 1:35PM
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scottokla(7)

Man, I would think a pH of 4.5 is more than enough. I wonder how the pH gets that low in our area. I have not heard of much below 6.0 around here, but I haven't really thought about it or looked around much.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2009 at 4:02PM
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gamebird

They scraped off the top foot or so of topsoil. That's how.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2009 at 6:19PM
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p_mac(7)

Well, I think it's pretty obvious to me I have to stay away from Lowe's. Stopped by last nite and now the bushes were 75% off. Since Scott hasn't been able to find any, I felt obligated to buy the last Blueray I could find....in his honor. Now I have 6....and my crazy self will be standing outside all winter watering blueberry bushes.

I'm not planting w/straight peat. Our sand is pretty high in acidity so I'm mixin' a bit in with the peat. Mulching with pine needles on top of that until I can get over to purchase the pecan hulls. Maybe this will hold enough moisture that I won't have to water quite as much?

Paula

    Bookmark   October 3, 2009 at 10:28AM
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scottokla(7)

I picked up 6 more Elliot and Duke plants at Lowes this week also. Mine were only 30% off.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2009 at 11:46AM
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p_mac(7)

Scott - did I pick a good time to plant the bushes or what?!?!? We got them all in the ground Saturday evening right before it started sprinkling. We watered anyway and then Sunday and today has been slow drizzle & light rain. I saw them when I pulled in from work tonite and they look great! All the sand has settled but the peat looks secure!

Thanks for all you advice!

Paula

    Bookmark   October 5, 2009 at 8:19PM
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