Thursday, July 14, 2011

Wild Maine Blueberries

Last year I took a careful walk around the perimeter of our yard, looking for blueberry bushes.  Much to my surprise, I found several low bushes, a few medium-high bushes and several high bushes.  At the time, we'd lived here for about 4 1/2 years, and I didn't know they were there.  The year before, I bought 4 bushes through the mail, but they haven't done much.  With all these berry bushes so near, I made it my mission to find a way to get these wild bushes (and my purchased bushes) to produce some blueberries.

Powerful, acidic, rusty nails
 A friend at work told me she'd heard that putting rusty nails in the soil around the plants was supposed to help blueberry bushes grow better.  I knew we had a milk crate of old rusty nails kicking around. Why we have them, I don't know.  Anyway, I decided to search the Internet and see what I can find out about the nail idea.  Have you ever heard of using rusty nails in the garden?

The results of the search provided me with information regarding the importance of having acidic soil when growing blueberries.  Blueberries, Azaleas, Rhododendrons, and Hydrangeas are all acid loving plants.  If the PH of your soil is too high, the leaves of the plants may turn yellow.  This means that your soil needs acid.  It's recommended that a test be done to determine the PH levels in the soil in question.  I chose not to test the soil and decided to put a handful of nails in and around the soil of the plants I bought, and a couple of the medium-high plants.  I also bought some acid loving plant fertilizer, and sprinkled it around all of my bushes.  This was done in the fall and again this spring.  Then, it was time to wait. 

Tonight, I found some info about the nails, as well as other organic materials that will help with acidity levels. 

"There are a few cheap organic ways you can acidify your soil:
- add some rusty nails to to the soil around the base of the plant
-add pine needles and coffee grounds (though is quite slow)
- spaghnum peat (again acts slowly)
- if you can get them- oak leaves (probably unlikely in WA though)
- Mulch well - Leaves and other plant remains release organic acids as they decompose; wherever accumulation is faster than decomposition, an acid condition follows.
-vinegar: add a cup of vinegar to a gallon (3.8 litres) of tap water - the vinegar will release iron in the soil for the plants to use."

Some of the blueberries I picked today 

After putting the nails around the plants, and fertilized them, I've been watching our bushes very carefully.  The blueberries are growing!  Today, I took a walk around to check for ripe blueberries.  I found some!!!  I was so excited.  I picked about 30 berries.  LOL  Not enough to do anything with, but there will be more ripening in the next few weeks.  I was impressed with each and every one of the 30 little Maine berries.  :-)  There are several high bushes that are just beginning to bloom.  I can't wait to see how many berries they'll grow. 

Knowing that 30 berries wouldn't be enough to make a batch of blueberry muffins, I decided to venture out into the woods around my house.  I spent a little more than two hours picking wild Maine blueberries, from some the many low bushes that carpet a portion of the ridge.  Coming home with nearly six cups of berries was exciting.  This year, I'm going to have to continue to pick on the ridge.  The nails will stay in the ground around my bushes, and I'll continue to place additional acidic materials around the them.  Maybe we'll get more berries off our bushes, next year.

Friday 7/15/11

To Die for Blueberry Muffins
57° on this beautiful Friday morning.  A perfect temp for baking.  Two dozen muffins are baked.  If you want to try a new blueberry muffin recipe, consider "To Die for Blueberry Muffins."  You can find the recipe on  I triple the batch for 24 muffins. When making the crumble topping, I only double the recipe and still have more than enough. 


Khristen said... [Reply to comment]

Thanks for sharing the recipe :) I'll have to remember the nail trick for the future...we just received a golden raspberry bush from a new neighbor, and although I know it probably won't produce this year, I can't wait to try these berries :)

Needlin' on the Ridge said... [Reply to comment]

Khristen, If you'd like some wild black raspberry bushes, let me know. We have so many. They spread like crazy.