The weather, schedule, and several other factors finally aligned yesterday and we were able to plant the blueberry patch. I’m more excited about blueberries than anything else we’re going to plant this year, for a lot of reasons. First off, they’re YUMMY, and remind me of my childhood in Michigan, where they grow prolifically. They’re also really healthy, being high in antioxidants and vitamins. Blueberry plants are hardy, disease resistant, and bear fruit for 40 to 50 years; this sort of toughness probably comes from being a native North American species- unlike most of the fruits and vegetables we eat today.
There are a lot of cultivated varieties of blueberry out there, and we planted four of them: Earlyblue, Bluecrop, Chandler, and Darrow. Blueberries fruit better with the cross-pollination provided by different varieties in close proximity. I also selected varieties with slightly different but overlapping blooming schedules, so we can get about two months of continuous harvest. I imagine that some of the harvest will be of the “from the bush straight to my mouth” type. The only sadness is that I won’t get to eat any berries this year. Though they sometimes set fruit the first year, a good grower pinches off all the flowers the first time around to encourage more vigorous growth in the roots and stalks, reaping the rewards in much larger harvests the following years.
I was excited to learn that the soils in this area are unusual, in they satisfy the peculiar acidity needs of blueberries. I still need to add about four inches of sawdust mulch to the patch to hold in moisture, but there are several big sawmills in the area, and I hear that sawdust is an easy-to-get commodity. What we have working against us, however, is the deer and elk. They browse everything (except blackberries) right down to the ground. For now, we’ve put chickenwire cages around our plants, but at some point in the next few months, we’re going to have to shell out for a deer fence.