Three years ago, long before I even imagined taking the Master Gardener classes, I planted blueberry bushes on the north side of my house. Why the north? That’s where my mother planted hers. Growing up in NJ, we had blueberry bushes that I remember as at least ten feet tall and five feet wide.
I know I wasn’t able to pick the berries without a ladder.
So now, 50 some-odd years after childhood, I plunked three expensive-yet-straggly-looking blueberry bushes in the ground and hoped for the best.
Little did I know that acidic-loving blueberries hate Kansas soil. I’ve written about my soil test before. Blues grow best when the pH is 4.5 to 5. My soil, two years after planting, tested at 7.5.
I side-dressed with sulfur and again, hoped for the best. But at the end of last fall, I was pretty sure those bushes were dead. A bit of research led me to growing blueberries in containers.
I pre-ordered the right types of Blues (Top Hat and Northblue dwarf bushes), devised a soil-less mix of sphagnum peat moss and cedar mulch, and bought pots. Here is the result.
Wandering through one of the big-box store nurseries about a month ago, I stopped to see what kind of Blues they were selling. Next to me, studiously reading labels, was a young man who seemed to be struggling to make a decision.
Me: “Buying some blueberries?”
Me: “Have you had your soil test?”
Now imagine me giving forth, chapter and verse, about the proper growing conditions for blueberries versus the growing conditions in Kansas. And imagine him looking befuddled.
Him: “So I should add lime?”
Yippee for the chance to show off how much I know. I explain how lime reduces acid in the soil while sulfur increases it. By the end of my little nerdy lecture, that poor guy had moved on to raspberries. I had successfully prevented yet another disastrous planting of Blues in Kansas.
And now for the punch line.
Remember those Blues I planted in ignorance three years ago? Here they are today.
Blueberry pie, anyone?