Spring arrived yesterday to a morning temperature of 18 degrees. Somehow I was hoping for a little more. So, Mother Nature gifted me with a good old-fashioned snow storm this morning. 🙂
I’ve had blueberries on my mind lately. Last Monday, I went to a workshop on growing small fruits – strawberries, grapes, raspberries and blueberries.
On a very cold, blustery Saturday morning, I went to an organic blueberry fruit pruning workshop. About thirty of us spent two hours walking Tuckaway Farm’s fields especially in awe of their 500 organic blueberry plants.
We have two high bush blueberry plants that came with the property, and I have four low bushes I put in. The high bushes produced an abundance of blueberries for years until the area got too shaded. Early last fall, I moved them into full sun where I can also reach them with a hose.
Now that I have sun and water checked off, they needed to be pruned. Except for trimming out dead branches, I wasn’t quite sure how to go about it because when you look at the branches they all have buds. I listened last Monday and heard that each bush should have six main branches. Six? I probably had 20 on each.
At the pruning workshop, I watched Chuck Cox the owner of Tuckaway Farm, cut each bush back to six. The guy next to me was in pain. He said he could see blueberry pies on the ground. We all had a chuckle, but you could hear murmurs going through the crowd as he kept pruning each bush.
Did they really have to be pruned that severely? Yes, good sunlight and air circulation result in fewer pests and a vigorous, healthy bush with an abundant berry crop.
Sunday morning dawned cold but sunny, and I knew it was now or never to trim those plants. I headed out with my tools (pruners, loppers, and small saw) and got down to business. I left eight instead of six (I just couldn’t cut those last two), but what an improvement. (The photos are challenging with the brown stems against the brownish green grass.)
Next, I’m on to researching organic fertilizer and then netting because if I get berries I’m not planning on sharing even one with the birds. I had to give up growing strawberries because the chipmunks and squirrels ate them all, but the blueberries are all mine. 🙂
Do you grow blueberries? If you need information, here is a link to our UNH Cooperative Extension Fact Sheet.
Tuckaway Farm, Lee, NH – Four generations of the Cox family reside on 250 acres along the Oyster River. They have farmed organically for over 50 years growing a variety of vegetables, fruits, grains, and livestock. When possible, they use draft horse power. About ten years ago, they established a bio-diesel production and educational facility on the farm. It is also home to the Wentworth Hunt Club, one of ten recognized New England fox hunting clubs..