Blueberries: The Impossible Dream
A few weeks ago I wrote a memo about patio gardening and how to use containers when designing your own personal refuge. In it, I waxed poetic about putting anything your heart desires in a container and mentioned growing blueberries. There was a definite backlash of opinion on that. Ok, I admit, it does not make much sense to plant blueberries in New Mexico even in a container. Soil mixtures would have to be tinkered with, alkaline water issues would be difficult if not impossible to remedy, and drought tolerance is not a virtue of the blueberry. Undaunted by these facts, I still believe that you can grow virtually any plant in a container if you are willing to learn about and give your dream plant what it needs. The gauntlet has been thrown. Who better to give this berry a try than me, who actually lives in a garden of impossibility?
Off I went to the internet. Lots of information there and I actually learned quite a bit, some of it I actually agreed with as it applied to our area. Here is plan A: My first thoughts went to soil mixes. I’m going to try a mixture of 2 parts peat moss and 1 part partially rotted pine bark. This should drain well and give the berries the frequent watering they desire. I’m hoping once a day in slightly dappled shade will do it. Next, the huge water problem. Our water is a neutral 7 pH, blueberries want a pH of around 5. To get there I’m going to water with a mixture of 1 tablespoon of white vinegar( vinegar used to increase soil acidity must be weak, 5-10%, stronger vinegars are used as weed killers) to 1 gallon of water using as many gallons as I need to keep the plant wet but not soggy. My moisture meter and pH meter will be of great use for this project. The web says to use this mix every other watering or more until the pH goes down to 5. An acid fertilizer applied once every two weeks will provide micronutrients. I have a giant wine barrel so all I need is the blueberry plant, which Walmart will supply this spring. Please also note, there is not one single chance of seeing blueberries for sale at Parker’s Farm and Greenhouse this spring.
This memo is for all those who dream the impossible and are willing to work at making it a reality. Foolish? Probably. Time consuming? Definitely. Rewarding if successful? Yes, if it’s your dream. It’s not my dream, but it’s very important to me to make my point: It is possible to grow anything in a container.
As a side note, can you believe how cold it got and how flash frozen and paper like the tree leaves are? How unusual is that?
Monika and the Boys