Our latest blueberry planting took place on the remaining acreage of family land. This last partial plot totaled just over six acres of beautiful brown dirt. In 2013 we were finally able to clear the last bit of leftover nursery stock that remained and moved quickly to tiling and tilling.
Additional irrigation pipe was laid at the west end of the field. These large pipes will push water through the drip irrigation system. Water seeps from hoses placed at the base of the plants, instead of being sprayed overhead by sprinklers. Drip irrigation saves thousands of gallons of water each year.
Mounds of dirt and sawdust are built up in the rows. Blueberry bushes like water, but they don’t like to be wet. Planting them in mounds ensures that any excess water will drain away from the roots. If the roots are too wet the plants can suffer from root rot which hurts the plant and, more importantly, the yield.
Spacing is critical. Blueberry bushes grow better with several feet between plants. These plants start out as little more than a stick with some leaves. In a few years they will be taller than a man and several times as wide.
Grass will be planted between the rows to soak up excess water, add durability to the field and reduce weed penetration. Mowing the grass also puts nutrients back into the soil.
With this latest planting we’re now out of land. To expand again we’ll need to seek out a nearby plot and start the entire development process over. That will likely include a new well, new buildings and maybe even additional equipment.
We have a sense of completion now, though. This land has been in the family for several generations and with it fully utilized again it feels like we’ve done something right for our family’s legacy.