How to Grow Blueberries in your backyard zone 4 garden
Delicious blueberries in the summer-beautiful red ornamental leaves in the fall.
To grow high bush blueberries in zone four at one time was almost impossible. Though the years the development of new varieties has made it very possible. I guess for the most part it is kind of an in-between.
The plants don’t get as tall but still produce a large abundance of fruit. The blueberries are of good size and quality. If you are in zone 4 but close to one of the great lakes( within 10 miles ) you can probably get buy with one of the more hardy zone 5 varieties. Try to avoid low areas where frost pockets could form.
You can plant them in the spring or fall. If you plant them in the fall you might be able to harvest some berries the following summer.
In most cases, you will need to plant two different varieties for pollination. There are a few blueberry plants that are self-pollinating -Elliott, Chandler and Blue Gold are a few of the most popular.
When choosing a planting site keep in mind Blueberry plants are very brittle. Try to plant them where they are out of the way of children and pets. The branches break very easily.
Do yourself a favor and give them lots of room. Space the plants 5 to 7 feet apart. If I am planting more than one row, I will space the row 7 feet.
Small plant-big hole. Dig your hole about the size of a bushel basket.
Blueberries need acid soil in a range from 4.5 to 5. If your soil is not acidic enough mix 50% sphagnum peat moss with the soil you are going to be returning to the planting hole. After the blueberry is planted you can add one cup of agricultural sulfur per plant. Work it gently into the surface of the soil to keep the rain from washing it away. This will slowly dissolve and help hold the ph down.
Plant the blueberry plant so the roots are one to two inches below the surface. And give them a good watering.
It is a good idea to mulch your plants to keep the soil moist a help hold the weeds down. I have tried several different kinds of mulches. I have a large number of plants so it has become a challenge. Old newspapers work very well. I lay down several layers and place rocks on top in different places to hold them down. If you don’t mind using plastic, black plastic also works very well. For a smaller number of plants, you have a lot of choices. Pine needles work well and also add some acid to the soil. Sawdust also works good but you have to keep an eye on it. As the wood rots, it will rob some of the nitrogen from the soil so you might have to add some additional fertilizer.
Four weeks after planting sprinkle about 1 ounce of 20-0-10+5 (N-P-K-Mg) or a similar analysis fertilizer within 12 to 18 inches of each plant, but not directly on the crown or stems.
Go easy on the fertilizer. Many times blueberries don’t need much.
As far as varieties I have had good success with Blueray, Northland, Patriot, and Elliot.