Thursday, February 10, 2011


Along with the seeds came my blueberry bushes. My parents have two in their garden and I have memories of going out in the morning to pick fresh blueberries for breakfast. Back then I wasn't the biggest fan of the taste of blueberries, but luckily my taste buds have evolved. Another impetus for buying some blueberry bushes is the cost of blueberries at the grocery store. Fresh or frozen those little blue antioxidant balls are wicked expensive!! I'm not made of money, but I'd like to enjoy blueberries.

When I was ordering seeds I noticed that Peaceful Valley also sold blueberry bushes and it seemed like a great opportunity. Since they flower and produce fruit, it's important to get two bushes, so they can cross pollinate. And it's also important to get two different varieties. So I went with a miniature variety called Tophat that's actually made for container gardening, and I also got a variety called Patriot. It seemed fitting since I live in Boston, and it's also a very common variety that produces lots of blueberries. High yield is fine by me!

The bushes arrived in little bags, as you can see from the previous post about their arrival. We'd been expecting them (I may have been a little neurotic and been tracking the shipment several times a day) so we'd already gone out and selected large pots and soil from Mahoney's here in Boston. The pots had to be very large since we're growing entire bushes, but not so large that we'd never be able to move them once they were filled with soil. We picked a basic potting soil with the understanding that we needed to keep it acidic.

Blueberries are masochists, a bit like grapes. If you give them rich soil with lots of nutrients they aren't going to produce very good blueberries. They like to have a hard time of it, with acidic soil, not too much water and they generally have fairly shallow root systems. The best way to organically keep the blueberry soil acidic is to include sawdust. As it decomposes, it lowers the pH level of the soil, keeping the blueberries happy.

So we planted the bluberries, spread some sawdust around the top and gave them a bit of water. We're keeping them in our sun room, which isn't heated so they can finish out the winter. They need the cold and dark to feel like they're outside, so they'll be ready to grow like weeds in the spring. I'm not sure we'll get berries this first year, but we'll take good care of them and hope for some.


  1. I've never grown blueberries before. I hope you have lots of success. It would be lovely to pick your own fruit!

    That's interesting about the sawdust. I didn't know it could be used to raise pH. However, I have heard that sawdust can tie up nutrients (mostly nitrogen) as it decomposes, so you might want to watch out for that. However, since you're using new potting mix, I'm sure there are plenty of nutrients to go around.

  2. What kind of sawdust are you using? I have yellow cedar shavings which I do not use as mulch because it takes years to decompose & will actually kill the plants (lesson learned the hard way) by making the soil more acidic - lowering the pH. Blueberries are very much like our coastal rhododendrons & azaleas - I am going to try coffee grounds this year...

    I've actually thought very hard about digging up my blueberries & transferring them to deck pots because there is something I'm not doing right & the deer have found them 2 seasons in a row & eatten all the fruit... Can't wait to see what your plants do!

  3. I wish I had an answer to this! The sawdust was actually in the packaging when it arrived from Peaceful Valley. I've read that you have to be careful to use untreated hardwood sawdust.

    My parents have blueberry bushes and my dad set up a support of wood and then put netting over it that's held down by bricks. It seems to keep the animals out fairly well. I'll see if I can get him to take a photo of it.

  4. sawdust sounds like a good idea! i have a pair of blueberry bushes in buckets started last season--they bloomed the first year and i got my hopes up they'd set fruit, but no. i'm pretty sure they usually wait until the second year. they're mulched with a thick layer of pine needles and i'm hoping that will add some acidity.

    i really like your blog--love your enthusiasm!

  5. May your blueberries bloom and grow! I too have my bareroot blueberries from Peaceful Valley...I got Tophat and another one suitable for the cold winters of northern New Mexico. I was told by a local master gardener here that our adobe soil isn't acidic enough, so: ADD vinegar to the irrigation water or peat moss to the soil mix.

    I like the coffee grounds idea too,
    Here's to blueberry pancakes real soon,