Digging for Blueberries

I’m running a bit behind in my posting (got distracted by online novel reading) so will try and do a bit of catchup now.  I’m trying to get some preparation done for my blueberry patch down the hill.  I had covered the whole area with black plastic early last year to clear the weeds so it is now time to get the beds arranged, so I can start planting.

I decided to move the black plastic out to cover the area immediately surrounding the cleared patch.  I can either plant more blueberry bushes or other plants there.  It will be useful to have a weed barrier of sorts to try and keep the couch and other creeping grasses at bay.  There probably aren’t enough stones already selected to weight the plastic down properly.  Last year I had the benefit of large branches from the driveway spruce trees, but my intention is to use these to increase the woody content of the beds, so I will need additional weights this year.

new area
Forked area and extended mulch area

Since blueberries need well aerated soil, and the area I have chosen for them is damp and compacted with generations of sheeps trotters, I have forked over the cleared area.  I din’t turn the soil, just loosened it, so that it has a chance to dry a little over the coming weeks of spring.  I was a bit disappointed by the amount of couch grass that seems to be prevalent over the whole area, despite the light excluding cover.  I guess it was kept going by areas outside the plastic, and the fact the water could still get to it due to the fact the plastic is in strips, rather than a larger entire piece.  The other plant that seems to have survived remarkable well is pignut, Conopodium Majus.  The blanched spring shoots of this are all over the area despite having been covered for the whole of last year.

pignut blanched
Blanched pignut shoots

The thick reeds and other groundcover plants have disappeared to form a vole dispersed layer of compost.  The voles are more of a nuisance for attracting the attention of the dog(s).  They like to dig underneath the plastic sheets, thus letting in light and wind, so making the sheets less effective at weed cover.

My intention is to create sort of raised beds, with the woody trimmings, bracken remains, and leaf mould/grass clipping compost from the lodge, together with soil excavated to create drainage channels and paths.  As I was forking it over, I discovered that the soil depth is not consistent; it gets quite shallow at the downhill side of the patch.  Probably this rock forms a bit of a bowl, which is why it seems so damp there.  Until the area surrounding the cleared patch is also cleared, I won’t really be able to create the levels properly to ensure bed drainage.  I’m hoping that I can clear most of the couch grass out when the soil is drier as I create the raised beds themselves.

I have ordered some more blueberry plants, but haven’t managed to find some of the varieties I wanted.  If necessary, I will just sow some annuals to build up the soil structure and keep it covered and pre-order bushes for next year.  I know ART will propagate fruit trees to order, so they may do fruit bushes too.

11 thoughts on “Digging for Blueberries

  1. Hi Nancy and Stuart

    Stuck at home for 3 months and relying on others to deliver food and meds. Thank goodness that we have the allotment as Matt can go there to destress. He is underpants g the blueberries with cranberries. Doubt there will much of a harvest this year as we only moved to the new site last year and it was not connected up to water for 9 months! The old allotments are having a new road built through them. Keeping chickens is suddenly very popular but I wonder how well many of the chickens recently bought will be looked after. 3 of mine are still laying despite not being particularly young but one ceased laying after her prolapse last year. Can’t say that I blame her.

    Keep well

    Catherine x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Cathy, Yes keep safe yourself, we are blessed with plenty of open space here, but are starting to struggle with getting the groceries replaced in the shop, hopefully the wholsalers will catch up soon and we will establish a new normal. I have a cranberry to try underplanting as well, although I need to think what other plants can go there and not compete too much. Some of my new blueberry plants came yesterday, so hopefully I can get them planted in a week or so (they will need acclimatising)


      1. Some things are OK, others my suppliers are still struggling with. I’m pretty sure thst things will settle down into a new normal soon, but we are still pretty busy. People are shopping more locally and we are the only general supplier that will deliver around here for people unable or unwilling to visit the shops.


    2. With regard to hens. Whenever I’ve read about keeping hens there just seems to be so much to go wrong. I would not feel so guilty about a sick plant as an animal. I quite fancy ducks (Dougie would have loved them -briefly!) But S. isn’t so keen.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve got a whole patch, but no blueberries yet! They do well on Skye, at Edinbane and a neighbour on the other side of the hill does well. I have tried before in the fruit jungle, but I think they were both too exposed and too shaded to do well (one plant survives, but no berries). They will have a bit of shelter from the trees in the new spot, so I am quite hopeful!


      1. Yes, the soil generally here is very acidic, and we get plenty of rain in summer which they like. The main problem will be the wind; the spot I have chosen is well sheltered by my new trees at the moment, but I will have to be careful when coppicing in the area to maintain that. The other problem maybe that the soil is silty, so tends not to drain well. I am hoping to improve that this spring to create nice aerated, organic rich beds


    1. Thank you, so far so good. It’s a difficult time for everyone, and if we fall sick I don’t have staff to keep the shop open at the moment. We are doing our best to try and help everyone keep safe. The population round here is mainly elderly, so I am worried for all our friends and neighbours. May I send you my hopes that you keep well too.
      We have our stocktake as well at the moment, so I’m not getting much done outside just yet.

      Liked by 1 person

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