blueberry plants

Blueberries are Worth the Wait

I don’t know about you, but I love blueberries. On my yogurt, in my cereal, plucked straight off the bush. They’re delicious and healthy and only have one downside. They stain your teeth. Ugh. Bring a toothbrush out to the garden, right? A little staining isn’t going to stop me from enjoying this delectable fruit!

And mine are finally here, in varying stages of growth.

blueberries almost ready

Really beautiful… And that’s pine bark you see in the background. Blueberries like acid and pine is full of it making it the perfect mulch for your blueberry garden.

gobs of blueberries

You do want one, don’t you? Of course you do! And now is the time to find blueberry plants at your local garden center. Just remember, blueberries need to cross-pollinate so make sure you purchase at least two different varieties for your garden. I have several, including Southern Highbush Sharp Blue, Windsor, Jubilee, Jewel and Gulf Coast. If you can get your hands on some Highbush Misty, they are supposed to get along well with Highbush Sharp Blue. I also have some Rabbit Eye varieties to round out my berry garden.

Special note: Blueberries require a certain amount of “chillng hours” to produce fruit. Chill hours are considered between 32 degrees F and 45 degrees F. I chose these varieties because in Florida we don’t get a lot of cold weather and these bushes require the least amount of chilling hours, ranging from 200-500 hours. So choose wisely according to your growing region.

Granted my clusters should be much plumper but I’ll admit, I had some watering issues throughout the year and my bushes have not fared as well as they should have. Don’t let this happen to you. Plant in organic-rich slightly acidic soil (4.0 — 5.0 pH) and mulch well. Feed with a 12-4-8 fertilizer and prune during the summer months after harvest for more vigorous growth.

This week they should be ready to pick! Unless the birds get them. The other downside to growing my favorite blueberry…

Tami’s Garden is Doing Terrific!

Wow, what a couple of weeks will make.  Just look at how much progress she’s made!  Soaker hoses are in place and keeping the plants happy. 

A couple of things to keep in mind when using  soaker hoses is placement and hose material.  When plants are young, be sure the soaker hose is close to the plant, as their root system has yet to spread out.

When plants grow larger, looping it around them (like she did with this cucumber plant) will work fine.  Not only does it get the water where it needs to go, it wastes less.  A good thing.

Also, Tami found she prefers the lightweight soaker hoses.  They’re more flexible which translates into easier handling.  A closeup for the stiffer hose can be seen here, in the photo below. 

The more flexible hose appears below.  She keeps it in place using a small metal anchor.

As I’ve never worked with soakers in my garden, I’m glad for the tip.  It’ll save me from myself later when I head to the hardware store and dither over which is best!  Another new concept to me is the use of oak leaves for acid-loving mulch as opposed to pine.  At the moment we’re talking about her blueberry and strawberry plants, but I imagine the same can be used anywhere in your garden to achieve the same results.  For example, acid-loving azaleas seem to delight in living beneath oak trees.  And since blueberries like acid, shouldn’t it be reasonable to assume oak leaves will work for them, too?

Yes, and no.  According to one gardener, the research is still out on this one.  He says oak leaves may be acid when “fresh” but turn alkaline with time.  Who knew?  And pine needles?  Seems the same applies and as they compost, their acid-producing benefits are neutralized.  Well, live and learn!  I say we observe how well her berries do and THEN decide.  (Too much of what I read in regard to gardening “how-to” turns out NOT to exactly the case.)

Speaking of mulch, one excellent way to retain moisture in your soil is to line the dirt with newspaper, then cover with hay or leaf mulch.  Not only will the newspaper decompose well and prove harmless to you and your plants, it’s a great way to recycle those old newspapers.  I do love a multi-tasker!

Where Tami lives, mulch is extremely important because a few days without water and no rain can really spell disaster.  Just look at this poor baby bean leaf.  Now I’m only guessing here, and I’ll take any advice from the experts, but this looks to me like leaf scorch — the product of too much sun and not enough water. 🙁  Bad combination.

One only has to glance at these little pumpkins (term of endearment — these used to be watermelon sprouts) to realize the effect one day of missed watering can have on your plants.  Devastating. 

But sprouts are fussy that way.  Without enough volume of dirt and sun shelter, they are susceptible to your bouts of memory loss.  Once in the garden though, they stand a much better chance. With a bit of mulch and deep even watering once every other day or so (depending on what you’re growing), your babies should be good to go!

And remember:  these plants are like your babies.  You must care for them until they can care for themselves.  And you must keep predators away.  While this part of her project is still in progress, she has secured her pipes to the outside of her beds.

All she has left to do now, is wrap this mesh around the corner pipes and she’s golden!  Or neon orange—but who cares?  The rabbits will be forced to go elsewhere! 

Don’t worry.  They’ll be fine.  As in Tami’s garden.

Transplant a rose garden?

Who in their right mind would do such a thing? 

Me.   I changed my mind.   We added a screened enclosure.   Life happens.   My roses were too close to the wire mesh and my herbs were too far away from the kitchen.   Okay, I enjoy the walk out to the garden.   That’s not it.  Truth is, they didn’t work well with my rotation schedule AND while I’m cooking dinner and feel the urge for some fresh herbs, it’s easier when they’re located right around the corner. 

Makes sense, doesn’t it?   In theory, yes.   In practice… 

Well, that’s another beast entirely and I do mean beast.   And to think I blamed my stiffness on old age – it has nothing do with old age –  it’s senility!  Mine!   

What was I thinking?   Oh, let’s see.   Today I’ll transplant my three vigorous and thriving rose bushes which have been there for years.   Then, I’ll relocate and plant seed for a new herb garden in their place.   Tomorrow, I’ll plant a blueberry patch.   All this, after five hours spent spring tilling and planting in the garden the day before. 

Counterclockwise from the bottom: aloe, basil, space for cilantro, oregano, space for parsley, rosemary, potted peppers, sweet potato slips inside screen, dill, curly parsley, lavender

Nut job.   I heard you.   Insane

You’re right.   I’m all of those and while you’re at it, add energetic, ambitious, a gal with eyes bigger than her yard AND her ability.   Yep.   That’s me.   But I have to say, now that it’s all behind me, and I survived, I can say, it was all worth it.  

Eventually, my yard will be exactly as I want, all the pain and agony a distant memory as I gaze out the window with satisfaction.   Need I remind you of childbirth

This afternoon, my daughter and I went in search of something cute for our brand new herb garden.   We didn’t find anything.   But it was fun looking! 

It’s nice to have something to look forward to with hope and anticipation, isn’t it?   It feels fresh and fun and exhilarating.   I hope all my seeds take to sprout.   We won’t know for at least a week or two.  I can’t wait to stroll knee deep among the herbs, full and lush, nestled together, their savory scents competing as I decide on which to include for dinner.  

Speaking of herbs, did I mention the hardy rosemary plant?  Easy to grow, easy to harvest and very distinct in character.   One of our favorites this time of year, is rosemary lemonade.   It’s an easy mix with outstanding results.   (Check my recipe page for details.) 

Hmmm.   Closing my eyes, I can see it all.   Then, come April, my berry patch will command my attention with their plump, juicy little bodies of blue glistening in the morning dew.   The perfect compliment to my breakfast yogurt.   I love spring… 

 

Can you see it?   Can you imagine the pleasure you’ll derive from your very own paradise?    Oh, have I forgotten the roses?  

Not at all.   I’ve moved them before and they adapted well.  

 They’ll do so again, I’m sure of it.   Because with enough love and attention, anything can grow anywhere, of that I’m sure of as well. 

Welcome back, spring.  More than the promise of new growth and abundant fragrance, your arrival signals the blessings of renewal. 

p.s.  Good timing.  Florida has had a deluge the past few days.  Wonderful news for my rose transplants!