Sunday 17 March 2013

Blueberries - signs of new growth

Last year the result of my Blueberry efforts was "a game in two halves" as they say. The crop was OK-ish though nothing remarkable, but I had the devil of a job protecting it from the depredations of the local Blackbird population.

Sorry to disappoint, but this is a photo from last Summer!

Part of the problem was that I hadn't anticipated the need to go to such great lengths. In the past I had not really been bothered by birds stealing the fruit, which I grow in pots right up against the wall of the house. I think the birds had been too scared to come close to the house. But presumably one cocky bird plucked up enough courage to rush in and steal a ripe berry and found it to be so delicious that he couldn't resist coming back for more - and of course told all the other members of his clan too!

Another aspect of the problem was that I had allowed the plants to get tall and straggly, which made them hard to protect and less likely to produce a good crop of berries. This being so, I decided to prune the plants quite severely once they had finished fruiting. I cut out most of the old wood, whilst paying attention to the structure of the bushes, aiming to make them much more compact. This is what they look like now: they are about 3 feet tall.

As you can see, I currently have them lined-up out on the patio. Later on I think I will move them back against the house - but not until I have rehearsed how to protect them! I have recently given the pots a top-up of fresh ericaceous compost.

If you take a close look you can see how removing the old wood has stimulated the production of new shoots. The older wood is brown, and the newer wood is red:

I'm hoping that this year each plant will put up a few more shoots from the base, making them thicker and less straggly. Certainly there are lots of new twigs forming further up:

And at the tips of the twigs, little flower-buds are already forming:

My plan for protecting the crop is not yet finalised, but I'm mulling over a number of options for creating a temporary fruit-cage, perhaps using one of my nets supported on some tall bamboo canes. I'll work something out. I have plenty of time still!


  1. I look forward to seeing how the blueberries fruit after pruning.

  2. If it's not the birds, it's the children that get the blueberries here! I have a couple of bare root blueberries to start off this year but have also acquired a Honeyberry plant from one of the recent plant shows. Apparently the fruit is very similar to blueberry but without the need for ericaceous compost - I'll definitely be writing this one up on my blog in the coming months! It will be very interesting to see how your rejuvenated bushes perform, it all looks very good to me!

  3. I hung an old CD onto a bamboo cane in the middle of my pot, just above the top branch last year and that seemed to do the trick, or maybe the birds just haven't found my blueberries yet?! I love your photo of the raspberries and blueberries at the top of your post : )

  4. I have had lots of problems with the woodpecker fledglings (as demonstrated by mom and dad woodpeckers), pecking lots of holes in every single tomato. I also used the CD method, and it worked like a charm. I also like the light reflecting off the CD's while I'm sitting on my patio. I have yet to plant any blueberries in my garden, so I'm a late starter to growing fruit, I can't even seem to get any strawberries to fruition......sigh!

  5. I so love blueberries. I'm going to put in two more plants.

  6. Blueberries - luv 'em. I have finally replaced my plants that died - hoping for great things this year.

  7. I love blurriness too. I don't grow them at all but seeing your in pots... worth trying.
    And, happy birthday, Mark!

  8. I'm looking forward to seeing what you do, then if it works well I can copy. The Blackbirds took all my berries last year and I certainly don't want a repeat this time.

  9. My blueberries died off last year and I never got round to replacing them, which variety do you use? Do you use different varietys to help pollination?

    1. Hi Stacy; I have 5 Blueberry plants, but most of them are ones I got as Freebies from magazines, and I only remember the names of two - Earliblue and Brigitta. I'm not sure whether they assist each other with pollination, but they certainly mature at different times, which extends the harvesting season.

  10. I'm trying not to be green with envy because your blueberries look so good compared to mine.
    If I'm truthful I think my plant is well and truly dead!!! :(
    But maybe if I try cutting it back a little it might sprout new shoots!??!
    Maybe I'll try before I dig it up...fingers crossed.
    I'd be thrilled if I managed to produce a crop like you. :D


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