The Blueberry Patch: From Local Pots, Potted, to Shipped Bare Roots

One of the first things we did when we bought the house—besides immediately discover an alarming quantity of mold behind the walls of the bathroom—was plant blueberries. I envisioned a hedge of blueberries that would supply us with fresh blueberries in the summer and dried blueberries through the off-season. I love blueberries in just about anything:  oatmeal, muffins, yogurt, pies, salads, jam. Blueberries are versatile!

When I first bought my blueberry bushes, I purchased eight bare-root plants and two potted live blueberry plants through Burpee. I followed the instructions to modify the soil to make it more acidic and thus the blueberries happier. Seven of my eight bare-root plants died, leaving me feeling more than a touch despondent, refunds notwithstanding. The potted plants were disappointing in another way: they were wimpy little wisps of a shrub, years away from even thinking about producing a handful of blueberries.

Then, we braved a rainy morning to traipse off to the farmer’s market for more seconds for peach jam. We discovered True Vine Ranch‘s stall, which had the most vibrant looking blueberry plants I had ever seen for sale at a reasonable price. I was ecstatic. The woman was so helpful and friendly, and we impulse purchased five plants that ripen in succession from them (Duke, Bluecrop, Liberty, and Elliott). She provided wonderful growing instructions and tips for caring for the plants, which we have followed. We planted them in peat moss and have applied an acidic fertilizer once a month through the growing season.

Our blueberry patch has thrived its first year, and our locally purchased bushes are already heavy with fruit. Yes, please! Although I still wish that I had purchased another local blueberry bush to replace the spindly little bare root plant that barely survived last year, it seems bent too bent on life to thwart it now. The wimpy little potted plants from Burpee look better than they did when we had purchased them, but they’re nothing compared to the magnificence of our local bushes. While I’m sure that they’ll mature, every time I look at my hodgepodge (yet gorgeous) one-day hedge of blueberries, I am reminded that I ought to look for local options first.

Notes:  True Vine Ranch gave me nothing for my comments in this blog (but if they wanted to send me another blueberry plant or two, I totally wouldn’t turn one down!). If you’re interested but don’t live in Lawrence, they ship their plants. I heartily recommend them!

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5 thoughts on “The Blueberry Patch: From Local Pots, Potted, to Shipped Bare Roots

  1. I bought two blueberry bushes early this year, but they are not doing much in terms of growing. They sprouted a few leaves, but when I purchased them they were basically twigs so they have grown. I planted them by my butterfly flower garden. I only bought two, mulched them well and planted by each other to cross pollinate. Any tips would be appreciated! (I also amended the soil well with organic soil). I’m wondering if I need to fertilize at all with an organic fertilizer. Any tips!?

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    1. Hi! Sorry for the delay in replying: I’ve been on a mini camping vacation. Blueberries really need acidic soil to be particularly happy. If you planted them in your normal (or even organic) soil, it might not be best suited to growing blueberries in terms of the acidity level. We followed advice and planted ours in a really, really giant hole filled with a bale of peat moss. We fertilize once a month March – August. I have been using Miracle Gro for Acid Loving Plants, but the planting information I was given suggested using Holly Tone “at the rate of 1 cup or horse manure tea (5 parts water to 1 part manure) from March through mid-August.” I aspire to using more organic practices, so I may switch to that recommendation. I know that some people balk at the idea of using peat moss for sustainability purposes. After careful consideration, I did decide to go ahead and use the peat moss for my blueberries because blueberry bushes can live 50 years (and I sure hope mine do!). I would recommend checking the acidity level of your soil and/or fertilizing with a fertilizer specifically for acid-loving plants at the recommended levels. If your plants are young, you’re probably at least two years from your first mini blueberry harvest. Good things come to those who wait. 🙂 Hope this helps!

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      1. Awesome advice I read they like acid. I wonder if coffee grounds or a compost tea would benefit them. They seem to be doing better since we’ve had some sun. We planted them but dug a large hole and filled with simple organic store bought soil. We really should test our soil though! I’ll definitely look into some more fertilizers or compost to help them take root good this year.

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