|Blueberries in waiting.|
We love blueberries and eat these antioxidant-nutrient-rich berries every day. So planting them on our homestead seemed a natural thing to do.
However, growing blueberries in Kansas is no small feat.
First you must create the appropriate soil acidity. Kansas soil pH (acidity-alkalinity) hovers around the neutral zone (6.5 to 7.5 pH) and blueberries require quite acid soil (5.5 or lower). Instead of trying to amend the native soil to match that low pH, a local grower recommended that I plant my blueberries in straight peat moss.
She also cautioned me to get only Canadian sphagnum peat moss, as the stuff from the other U.S. source does not have the appropriate pH.
Blueberries do not have extensive root systems, so you don't have to replace a large garden area with peat moss. Just dig a hole large enough to contain 1.8 cubic feet of sopping wet peat moss and you are good to go.
|Dump soppy sloppy goopy peat moss into hole.|
|Dig hole in peat moss. This one had to be made larger.|
|Place plant in hole and fill back with peat moss.|
|Top with mulch of your choice.|
Done planting, that is.
Blueberries want good drainage, but require lots of water -- 3 to 5 gallons per plant at least twice a week during the growing season when the temperature is above 70. I dutifully watered my blueberries twice a week all summer. They all survived, although some obviously suffered. You must keep up the watering schedule through Thanksgiving (late November) or until the first snow cover -- whichever comes first.
|I keep a hose coiled in the blueberry patch for the frequent|
watering that they need.
Blueberries are not for the lackadaisical gardener. They require frequent attention. However, blueberries are long-lived, not reaching maturity until they are 7 years old. The bushy plants can range in size from 5 to 8 feet tall and will produce pounds and pounds of berries for years -- when properly tended.
People like blueberry pies, cobblers and jam, but we just like them raw. So when we have more than we can eat all at once, we'll just toss them in the freezer.
Our 15 blueberry plants should give us plenty of berries when in peak production. We have a variety of cultivars, with early and late producers in the mix. So when a 3-year-old granddaughter who loves to eat blueberries comes over, she has a long season in which to help pick them. Unfortunately, she won't stay 3 forever. Yet the blueberries will be there for her.