Thursday, November 18, 2010

Blue Berries In The Ground

Well it has started.  I found a good deal on sphagnum moss from True Value which saved me a great deal of money considering I had thought I was going to have to but a bunch of small bags from our local big box store.

We also had a lucky break with getting a good deal on some plants.  Our local nursery had Patriot and Blue Crop left which he gave me a good deal on since they were the last of his stock. The plants are two year old and I paid less for them then I would have on one year old plants plus shipping.

We did not have room on the trailer since I had loaded up all the bags of moss, shovels, water, and all of the other items we would need to plant.  Thanks to my wife for pushing me to buy a Ford Expedition we had plenty of room to load all of the plants inside the SUV and even had room left over for the kids.  You can't do that in a compact car!

 The first step was laying out the placement of the plants.  There are many different opinions on proper spacing but I elected to plant four feet apart from center to center of the plants.

Don't fool yourself.  Those bags of moss are no lightweight!  I wore myself out unloading them and carrying them over to the rows.

We ended up deciding to use 2/3 peat with 1/3 soil.  I am hopeful the naturally acidic peat will maintain the proper low PH we need for the berries to flourish.

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We mounded each plant to ensure proper drainage.  Blue Berry plants like water but the do not like to be in standing water.  By mounding each plant we should be able to provide the proper amount of water for each plant.
Notice the leafs?  We are using shredded oak leaves to mulch each of the plants.  Remember mulching helps reduce weed growth and reduces evaporates water loss from the sun.  The oak leaves will also help to maintain the acidic nature of the soil as they decompose.  In the future we will use chipped and shredded leaf and limb litter to mulch the plants and the entire space between each plant.  Just remember you do not want to use Walnut or Maple leaves as they will have the opposite effect.

We had to start rationing our leaves as I apparently lost several bags off the trailer on the way out to our farm.  Oops.  
Here you can see we are at the tail end of planting this batch of plants.  It was alot of hard work but remember, it will be worth it next summer when we are picking our berries and making some extra income from the farmers markets.

Look at those beautiful plants.  Notice the large tank sitting on the trailer.  That is our water tank we got a good deal on.  Most community radio stations have some type of Trading Post where people call in with items they have for sale.  I picked up the large water tank for $50.  Not a bad deal.

 A picture of a few of the plants in the ground with the initial leaf muclhing in place.  We still have to mulch the remainder of the row but are waiting until I install the gravity fed drip irrigation system.  It is hard to tell in this photo but the left side of the photo is the north part of our open field and it slopes nearly due south.

I am building a platform to hold a water storage tank at the top of this hill and will be able to fabricate a drip irrigation system with moisture meters that will automate the watering.  This is why we have yet to finish the mulching.
Here I am watering one of the last plants.  One thing I would like to mention is blue berry plants thrive in an acidic environment.  One problem I ran into was the fact that we filled our water tank with municipal water which has a higher PH.  In the future we will have to add a substance to the water to bring down the PH level otherwise all my effort to prepare the soil is for naught.

Dad what am I supposed to be doing?

The work of planting is done and the kids are ready to hit the road!  I am not sure where he thought he was going but he was ready to go!

 But as anyone who has ever farmed or even planted a garden knows, the work is never done.

I hope deer do not like to eat blue berries.  I may have just started the first course on the deer smorgasbord!

 The plants require watering and constant monitoring of the PH levels of the soil.  My water tank I found included a hose with a shut off nozzle which makes it handy.