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  • Upcoming Garden Events in Middle Tennessee

    March 1 – 4: Nashville Lawn & Garden Show, Fairgrounds Nashville: The annual all-indoors garden event that features live garden displays, lectures, vendors, floral designs and special programming Wine Festival featuring Tennessee wines is Saturday (March 3), noon – 5 p.m. For more information on the events and the complete lecture schedule, visit www.nashvillelawnandgardenshow.com.

    April 7: Perennial Plant Sale hosted by the Perennial Plant Society of Middle Tennessee annual Perennial Plant Sale at The Fairgrounds Nashville. Find newly released and hard-to-find perennials along with a wide range of tried and tested varieties, all from top local nurseries. The sale opens at 9 a.m. and usually sells out by early afternoon. For more information, visit www.ppsmtn.org.

    April 14: Herb & Plant Sale hosted by The Herb Society of 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., at The Fairgrounds Nashville Sports Arena building. The sale offers common and rare varieties of herbs and heirloom vegetables and handmade pottery and herb markers by artist Roy Overcast for sale. For more information and a list of available plants, visit www.herbsocietynashville.org.

    April 21: Herb & Craft Fair hosted by First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville, 1808 Woodmont Blvd., 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Top quality perennial and annual herbs, heirloom tomato plants, native and companion plants, along with food and craft items reflecting an interest in the homemade and homegrown: fresh homemade sweet and yeast breads, spice mixes, barbecue sauces, jams and jellies; knitted and sewn items, homes for birds and bees, and art, jewelry and more made from pressed flowers. Visit www.thefuun.org.

    May 12: Hosta sale hosted by the Middle Tennessee Hosta. Proceeds from the sale support the club’s activities. More information about the MTHS is at www.mths-hosta.com.

    May 19: Urban Gardening Festival, hosted by Master Gardeners of Davidson County, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. (rain or shine) at the Master Gardeners’ Demonstration Garden at Ellington Agricultural Center (5201 Marchant Drive in Nashville). The free event includes information about a variety of gardening methods and techniques, local artisans, exhibiters, growers and more. For information, visit www.mgofdc.org/ugf.

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Grow the best blueberry bushes

QUESTION: I have had blueberry bushes for 2 years and they still look awful. I’ve been told to put coffee grounds around them but they don’t grow or produce fruit.  We have them in a bed with some calla lilies which are doing very well. The plants were healthy plants from the co-op.  I have a friend in Clarksville that has lush bushes with lots of fruit.  I asked if they did anything special and she said “no”.  Any tips to help us would be appreciated. — Karen in Donelson

Blueberries need sun, water and the proper soil pH to produce a good crop.

Blueberries are pretty finicky about what they need to grow well and produce, so I’ll let you know what those needs are, and you can decide if they’re getting what they require.

Do you know what the variety of your plants? Different types are adapted for different regions, and in Middle Tennessee, the varieties called rabbiteye and southern highbush blueberries are the most reliable choices.

Furthermore, they are not always self-fertile, which means you need more than one variety for cross-pollination to take place (and the insects buzzing around to pollinate them at the right time).

Now, the soil. Blueberries require acid soil, with a pH level of 4.5 to 5.6, so if you don’t have that information, have the soil tested. Coffee grounds are acidic, and that’s why the addition of coffee grounds may have been suggested. The fact that the calla lilies are doing well suggests that the pH might be part of the problem; they grow better in soil that is more alkaline. Blueberries also require soil that is well-drained, so make sure they’re planted in a place that doesn’t stay wet.

They need full sun, and they don’t like to compete with grass and weeds, so mulch around them with shredded bark or compost to keep weeds under control. They also suffer during times of drought because of their shallow roots, so make sure they get sufficient water (about once a week in dry weather, suggests garden expert Felder Rushing in his book, Guide to Tennessee Vegetable Gardening).

Blueberry bushes benefit from the same type of fertilizer as azaleas (which also need acid soil to grow well). Apply fertilizer, following label directions, in the spring.

Your friend who has lush bushes and lots of fruit may not be doing anything special, but it sounds like her plants are the right type for the area, in soil they like, and are getting plenty of sun and enough water. With a little more care and attention, yours may also re-gain their health.

 

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One Response

  1. I replaced my boxwood hedges this year with blueberries. My husband suggested mulching with peat moss, which I’ve done, and seems to be working (peat moss is higher acid). My mother also advised me to remove all blossoms this year and next year if I could do it, so the plants will put that energy into developing roots versus fruit. Thus far, they are looking good and growing well. I’ve also watered them for an hour or so weekly with a soaker hose when it’s dry (which has been a lot this year).

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