Blueberry Plant

To begin, the hole should be twice as big as the potted blueberry plant.

Blueberries need shelter and sunlight — a tricky combination on Hillbetty Heaven’s compact open spaces. The fence line along the garden, however, is looking hopeful. The fence will provide wind break for the new bushes while still allowing ample sunlight.

Blueberries grow very well in our zone. They like a lot of moisture (which is perfect for us). Drainage is important though, as the shallow-rooted plant will not do well in a swampy area.

To begin, the hole should be twice as big as the potted plant. Twice as deep and twice as wide. I lined the bottom and sides of the hole with compost mixed with the soil. Set the bushes in, spreading the roots out, three to five feet apart. The base of the plant should be even with the top of the tightly packed compost-soil mixture.

Blueberries love an acidic soil and we circle back to moisture again with a generous amount of hardwood, non-dyed, mulch. This mulch will help hold the moisture and protect the shallow roots. For even better moisture control, creating a mounded ring of mulch circling the plant will capture the rain, pulling the water toward the center root.

This lining of a fenced area with a dozen blueberry bushes is a three-fold endeavor for me. Beekeeping is in the plans for my homestead but first I need to get enough food for bees growing in the form of my fruits and flowers. The bushes planted this year will begin producing in three to four years. Planting different varieties also helps with cross pollination.

Blueberries also add great depth to the landscaping. Beyond a plump, juicy treat, the flowers are a creamy white in spring and the foliage turns a beautiful scarlet in the fall. Over time, I hope to have fully landscaped in what I consider “working plants” — edibles or food for honey bees.

The fence line will be a combination of 12 blueberry bushes and six each of blackberry and raspberry. If I am lucky, I also get to seriously cut back on time spent with a weedeater maintaining the garden fence line. Here’s hoping for a good growing season to get these plants a healthy start.

Melanie as a born-again Hillbetty attempting to revive her Appalachian roots. She lives in Creston with her two dogs and 21 chickens.

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