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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Gardening. Deal with it.


I'm not terribly good at introductions so I'll just get this over with then dive right in. My name's James and I'm a college student who has an unhealthy interest in plants. Read here botany. At any rate, a couple months ago I stumbled across a copy of “The Backyard Homestead” by Carleen Madigan. This book touts a vision of every house being mostly or entirely self-sufficient where its food needs are concerned with a large garden, chickens, and possibly even an ox. While I don't exactly have the ideal soil, lot, or work ethic for this sort of gardening (I've got hard, red clay coming out my ears on a lot that has a definite slope to it not to mention chronic laziness that would put a sloth to shame), I'm going to give it a shot and see what I can do. Although I like gardening, I'm far more interested in the amount of money I can save. Let's face it, buying food that's actually good for you adds up and I'm tired of paying retail for practically everything!

The main purpose for this blog is to not only focus me on this new hobby, but to help out other beginners avoid some of the pitfalls that I have also avoided.... or the ones I fell right into. I'm certain there will be plenty of the latter....

Alright! Requisite introduction complete! Now for something completely different.


Blueberry shrubs.

[bloo-ber-ee, -buh-ree]

-noun, plural -ries.
  1. the edible bluish berry of various shrubs belonging to the genus Vaccinium, of the heath family.

I love blueberries! They're good in cereal, as a cobbler, or just as a snack! What's better, is that they're not that hard to grow. Even I, with the ability to kill any living thing I touch, am capable of such a feat! All they really need is sunlight. Lots of sunlight. I planted mine on a small subplot of my Steep Slope of Pain and, aside from needing a lot of water, they seem to be doing just fine. Apart from the hail damage, that is.



Hail damage...

While I would recommend adding some peat moss to the soil mixture you're seating your blueberries in, it may not actually be necessary in your area. This soil should also be well drained. Don't plant them in a gully or some such thing! They will not do well. Ever. At all. Make sure you know which Hardiness zone you belong to by checking this site (http://www.garden.org/zipzone/ ) and know your local soil conditions before you start planting. Picking plants that thrive in your zone is the difference between having a bounty of home grown food and a couple of dying sticks rooted in your yard! I'm growing mine as individual plants so I put mine about 6 feet from one another, however, if you want a hedge, you can plant them as close as 2½ feet to form a solid hedgerow. However you end up planting your blueberries, keep in mind that they are not self-fruitful and that you'll need two or more varieties to actually produce fruit. As for the number, this depends primarily on how much space you wish to allocate. I've planted two, but I plan to put several more plants in as time goes on. If you and yours really love blueberries, I would recommend you plant 2 per person. That'll make sure that no one goes without their fix!

Once they're in the ground, mulching is a great idea. Uh. They only thing is... make sure you really soak the ground when you water them after they've been mulched. It takes far more water than you think it will to penetrate the mulch layer and permeate all the way down to where the plant needs it.

Ah, pruning. I hate this. Once upon a time it made me want to grow miniature cacti.


Not this time. I've done a lot of reading and I've got it down. For the first year, pull off all the blooms that appear. You want your plant investing its energy in root and leaf growth this year, not fruit. Not only would you get a pitiful harvest from this first year's fruit growth, but it would also hold your plant back in the future. If you can make sure it gets a good start this year, it will be covered in blueberries down the line! Here's a good rule of thumb for pruning: if it's not growing up, prune it out. Keep in mind that blueberries require heavy pruning. Be brave, but judicious with your shears! Low growth does nothing for the plant. Neither does dead wood and twigs that don't seem to grow. When pruning, look for brightly colored wood with long laterals. Those laterals are where you'll find your fruit later on. Anything that's blotchy needs to be pruned out. Heavy pruning means heavy pruning. If around 1/3 of the wood hasn't been removed, you need to thin the fruiting laterals and small branches.

Finally, fertilizing. Most fruits do well in acidic soil and blueberries are a classic example. You can use Azalea or Rhododendron formulations to fertilize your blueberries. They only require 2 tablespoons. Any more and you risk over-fertilizing. These plants can be sensitive to this, so be exact on how much you add. Blood meal and cottonseed meal work well, as far as organic fertilizers go. Always water well after fertilizing.

Gardening can be irritating, but I believe it's worth it in the end.

- James

Pictures not taken by me from google

32 comments:

  1. Good work, nice for a first post. Look forward to reading more!

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  2. Yeah, gardening is a good hobby and saves you money. Personally i have chillies and aloe vera in front of my house so i can relate to your enthusiasm towards it :)

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  3. Good post, any keen gardener can take something from your last line, definiatley agree.

    ( no, not the google bit ;) )

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  4. Gardening is a great hobby. Im looking forward to reading more.

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  5. Go gardening! i wanted to set up a garden in my back yard but the soil sucks... nothing grows.

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  6. Does he have any idea how long it takes to train an ox?

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  7. Great blog! I like gardening. Lavender is delicious!

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  8. I hope your not growing Illegal plants ;) haha jk jk I love gardening though, even though where I live its impossible.

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  9. Awesome hobby, keep up the work. Following this :)

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  10. interesting canr wait to read more on your gardening hobby. Followed

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  11. Nice info on gardening you just earned yourself a morning coffee from me! =D

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  12. I love gardening... well, I love the end result, but gardening is definitely a nice hobby.

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  13. Never been interested in Gardening, but definitely have to check this blog out for sure!

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  14. I love looking at great looking gardens, but I don't personally want to garden.

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  15. Gardening is relevant to my interests, though I have a lot to learn. Definitely following.

    appellatesky.blogspot.com

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  16. Sad thing that my country do not cultivate blueberries, i'd like to eat some.

    Nice blog, following.

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  17. Excellent. Blueberries are amazing!

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  18. This is awesome! Check out my blog, it's pretty cool too.

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  19. Nice to meet you James. Looking forward to future posts!

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  20. always good to keep your garden nice looking :)

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  21. i love gardening i usually plant peas and corn

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  22. Really cool.
    I can't find blueberries in Brazil. Sad. :(

    Also, where is your other blog?

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  23. Gardening is very peaceful. A lot of Italians in my neighbourhood are into it

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  24. i should try this real soon, have a garden in my house that i dont do much with

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  25. @ NeedingANickname

    You can find my other blog here: http://myfirstbrew-actual.blogspot.com/

    Thanks for showing interest, everybody!

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  26. Ill be sticking around to see what other gardening info you have to share. I hear papaver somniferum are notoriously easy to grow... kidding (but not really).

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  27. I'm going to learn proper gardening so I can grow my own fruit trees. THOSE BLUEBERRIES LOOK SO GOOD. :)

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  28. BLUEBERRIES BLUEBERRIES. They are dangerous :D

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  29. I have a cat named Blueberry...

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