Ask a Question forum: Permaculture - Low Bush Blueberries

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mcgee561
Aug 25, 2014 4:46 AM CST
I am interested in knowing if anyone has ever tried to encourage and cultivate wild blueberries. I live in Minnesota, zone 3 and am in the woods. I want to encourage my landscape to grow more of these edible wonders---they are all over the area but in little patches. Can I congregate them in one area and nurture them in that way?
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Aug 25, 2014 7:12 AM CST
McGee -- Welcome to ATP !

That's a good question... do you have the same soil type in your woods as where you find the blueberries? The ones here seem to grow in sandy, jack-pine type areas (and unfortunately I live in a cedar swamp... ) I planted 5 blueberry bushes last year that aren't exactly thriving (yet, at least) despite my efforts at amending the soil to make it more acid. If you give it a try I'd be very interesting in hearing about your results!
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Name: Tom Cagle
SE-OH (Zone 6a)
Old, fat, and gardening in OH
Coppice
Aug 25, 2014 7:52 AM CST
They transplant OK when dormant. You will need to check soil for acidity. it-they like a fairly rich organic content.

This kind of heath plant does need mulching and weeding for inevitable encroachment by other pioneer plants-trees.

I might not make my bed with flamable edging, or too near the house. Burning is often the control for weedy encroachment.

And mother nature brings the spark...

Useless trivia: the short blueberry are "upland blueberry", and the tall berry are "lowland".
[Last edited by Coppice - Aug 25, 2014 7:54 AM (+)]
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mcgee561
Aug 25, 2014 8:00 AM CST
Thanks both for your responses! I believe what we have is low bush...and yes the area is right next to the woods where they seem to grow. I was thinking of mulching with the same leaf litter that surrounds the other patches--pine needles, etc. I appreciate the advice to wait until dormancy...they are fading now--could I lift some in later September and transplant?
Name: Tom Cagle
SE-OH (Zone 6a)
Old, fat, and gardening in OH
Coppice
Aug 26, 2014 8:43 AM CST
Yes, Minnesota only has two seasons; winter, and six weeks of bad sledding. By the middle of September leaves should be bronzed and falling off.

I'm going to repeat, check your soil PH if I had to add sulfur in NH, you can reasonably expect to need to, too in MN.

Slate on edge, half cinder-blocks, pavers on edge will all work for edging of raised beds.

You may miss the perfect storm of a dry spring and fire for decades, but nature (or a clumbsy smoker) only has to get it right once. FWIW fire helps upland blueberry. its the construction that is perishable.

Upland berry is tastier and makes better pies-jams. There is a hand rake to pick them. Your in the right part of the world to find this obscure tool.
[Last edited by Coppice - Aug 26, 2014 10:45 PM (+)]
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Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
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Weedwhacker
Aug 26, 2014 8:11 PM CST
Coppice, exactly right about the burning... it seems as though the best wild blueberry picking is found where the woods were burned off in the past. I don't quite grasp why that is, since the ash should be alkaline, rather than acid, wouldn't it?

"Your in the right part of the world to find this obscure tool." As a Yooper, this cracks me up... (yes, we are hard up for entertainment here)

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Name: Tom Cagle
SE-OH (Zone 6a)
Old, fat, and gardening in OH
Coppice
Aug 26, 2014 10:41 PM CST
No, ash leaves behind all too soluble phosphate. If you have soured your soil right, it can stand up to periodic burning.

A low-bush blueberry rake, will get you a blank stare in 44 of the lower USA states. That or you will get offered a bucket of steam in its stead. ;)
Name: Kent Pfeiffer
Southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
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KentPfeiffer
Aug 26, 2014 11:23 PM CST

Plants Admin

Weedwhacker said:Coppice, exactly right about the burning... it seems as though the best wild blueberry picking is found where the woods were burned off in the past. I don't quite grasp why that is, since the ash should be alkaline, rather than acid, wouldn't it?


Most native plant communities in North America are fire adapted. They need to be burned periodically to function well.

mcgee561
Aug 27, 2014 5:08 AM CST
Well, burning this area is a bit out of the question. It's right next to our newly built cabin (a real cabin, not one of these mansions people build these days). My husband was planning on throwing some ash on the area from another burning somewhere else. But you don't advise this for the blueberries?

I'll test the soil and see what I have and amend it appropriately. Then I'll move some of the berries if I can. If that works, I can move more in later years...

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