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Blueberry help please

Discussion in 'Edible Gardening' started by Snowbaby, Jul 21, 2018.

  1. Snowbaby

    Snowbaby Gardener

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    Going by my photos, I clearly need help in blueberry bush care... i have 2 blueberry trees :thud:

    I have watched loads of videos on YouTube about pruning but I really can't grasp what canes I should chop and what ones I keep.

    Can anyone give me tips please? When and how to prune?
     

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  2. kazzawazza

    kazzawazza Total Gardener

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    I am not sure how old your blueberry is but it rarely needs pruning in the first two years, just remove any crossing or misplaced branches.

    Prune any time over the dormant season (November to March), but ideally in late February or early March when the fruit buds can easily be distinguished from the leaf buds.
     
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    • Verdun

      Verdun Passionate gardener

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      Hiya Snowbaby

      Pruning for now is simply removing dead wood and thin spindly wood (that carries no fruit). I would have pruned in its first year simply to oroduce lots of new wood but, looking at your bushes, i would also cut back those lanky stems by about a third. To produce a good vase shaped bush always prune to outward facing buds.
      I prune in Mid to late February down here but early March is prob better in colder areas.

      Good that you have 2 bushes but are they different varieties? Having 2 or more different varieties promotes better pollination and therefore more fruit.

      It is also good to feed (ericaceous) and mulch (ericaceous) at the same time, viz., in February/March. It is important to keep soil acid, as you probably are already aware.

      The compost! You will need a heavier, more substantial compost than ericaceous mpc and I suggest using ericaceous john innes. This is better too for stabilising moisture levels and retaining nutrients

      Blueberries are likely to suffer during this summer heat so a position in dappled shade and regular watering is important.

      I have 3 bushes that have produced heavy crops...(had 5 but 2 were "borrowed" by my nephew:) .....just a few fruits left but the birds can now have them. However, netting in early spring right through to when cropping ends is essential:)
       
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      • Snowbaby

        Snowbaby Gardener

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        Thank you both for replying!

        I'm not sure if they are different varieties, they were purchased a few years apart so it's highly possible.
        This is the first year the smaller one has fruited a lot (last year it had a few berries and nothing prior year) , incidentally the larger one has fruited a LOT this year.
        And they're edible! the large one's fruit has been very sour in the past.
        I'll give pruning a go early next year.
        Thanks very much
         
      • ricky101

        ricky101 Super Gardener

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        Hi,

        @Snowbaby has beaten me to it as I was about to ask the same question.

        Got six small plants last spring as three varieties, Dixi, Gold Traube and Spartan as 9" high plants in 25ltr pots and they put on about 2 ft of growth last year.

        This year they are fruiting very well, but four of them are about 4/5 ft high and Spartan has sent up two shoots, now nearly 8ft high !

        Thought they were supposed to take years to get to these sizes ? particularly with confined in pots!

        Will try and get some pics in the morning .
         
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        • ricky101

          ricky101 Super Gardener

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          Hi,

          Pic below of my Blues in 12" pots sat on thick polythene so the roots do not go into the garden soil.

          The front ones are now a good 4ft high but Spartan has pushed up two shoots now over 8ft, so going to be way too big for our small plot.

          Wonder if they can be managed down to 4 ft with pruning or is that a waste of time ?

          Might sound a daft question, but what colour should the fruits be in our climate ?

          At the moment they are a kind of deep sky blue with a hint of violet , juicy and slightly sweet but not a lot of taste.

          Should they be turning the blue/black colour like the imported shop ones ?

          IMG_0905.JPG

          IMG_0904.JPG
           
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          • Snowbaby

            Snowbaby Gardener

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            My blueberries are the same colour. We harvest when they are the shade of your darkest ones.
            Some are tremendously sour, others are lovely.
             
          • Verdun

            Verdun Passionate gardener

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            The taste varies between varieties......Some more sour than others so it pays to research them before buying.

            However, as with most fruit, taste will be sweeter when ripe or almost ripe so perhaps simply a case of delaying picking if sweeter fruit is wanted

            It's a canny game :)......I pick when the berries are sky blue.....slightly more sour then but the birds are waiting for them to ripen so I try to get in first. Works well here for blackcurrants where I don't need to net at all :)
             
          • ricky101

            ricky101 Super Gardener

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            Hi again,

            Well for the last week or so have really been enjoying picking these delicious blueberries and so far Spartan is the best.

            However as can be seen from the pic above, mine are in 12" pots and Spartan has sent up those 7-8ft shoots so they must be very pot bound as they are resting on thick black polythene so cannot root into the soil.

            The thing is how best to look after them for the future ?

            Its a small garden so probably the patch where they are now , enlarged a bit, would be best.

            The soil, ph around 7, is only about 12"-18" deep over builders clay infill.

            Seems like 3 possible ways, much larger flexi tubs, eg 40lt , direct into the soil with improvements or making the area a 12" raised bed over the soil ?
             
          • Verdun

            Verdun Passionate gardener

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            Ricky, you have really one option.......your soil, at 7, is totally unsuitable for blueberries. They will perisb very quickly. A raised bed would probably be too well drained. The alkalinity too of your soil could eventually permeate into the raised bed
            So, yes, into larger pots.
            You need to use ericaceous soil........an ericaceous john innes not an ericaceous mpc. :)
             
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              Last edited: Aug 10, 2018
            • ricky101

              ricky101 Super Gardener

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              Hi,

              Thanks , will stick to large tubs, suppose it could be an advantage as could drill drainage holes about an inch or two up the side of the tubs so they have a small sump.

              Ericaceous compost ... always wondered what the difference is between that and 100% peat ?

              Have bought JI EC before but they seem such a sandy mix
              Is there any practical way to turn your own soil into Ericaceous ?
               
            • Verdun

              Verdun Passionate gardener

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              Buy an ericaceous soil compost ricky.
              Peat and john innes are completely different. JI is a blended soil mix.....a basic formula for producing an ideal growing medium. Peat has hardly any nutrients in it
              You can add flowers of sulphur to make soil more acidic or to maintain an acid soil but not really practical if your soil ph is 7. Cheaper, easier and better simply to buy in ericaceous soil.
               
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                Last edited: Aug 11, 2018

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