A friend came with me to Leavenworth this weekend. She wanted to do a hike through the Enchantment Lakes. She needed a ride to the trail head early Saturday morning and to be picked up Saturday evening at another location (and thus why my services were needed). Normally I head back to Seattle at some point in the afternoon but I had time to kill now. I could have slept all day which I seriously considered. But I was feeling good and wanted to see how much I could do in a full Leavenworth work day. I started off the day finishing the fire pit with time to spare. So…
I love blueberries. They're expensive. I have this thing called land. It can grown things, maybe even blueberries.
From some reading and chatting with locals:
- Blueberries can grow in most climates in the US.
- They need acidic soil. Most plants can't survive in the same soil and thus why blueberries are not in most gardens.
- They're a hardy shrub. Give them the right soil, enough water, and they should flourish.
- Blueberries can survive multiple feet of snow in the winter (so said the pleasant fellow at the nursery selling me the shrubs).
- In order to pollinate you need 2 varieties. Sort of a reverse discrimination: they won't mate with their own. Apples are the same way.
- Labor day is the end of the blueberry season around Leavenworth.
I was sold at "they're expensive". The worst thing that could happen is I'm out a little money. Best thing that could happen is I quit my job and become a blueberry farmer. My guess was I'd end up somewhere in the middle learning a thing or two about gardening and hopefully get a little fruit in the process.
Speaking with the nursery fellow, we (when I say "we" I mean "he") decided four plants require a 6' x 6' garden. It would need to be at least 12 inches deep.
I figured the easiest way to get started was a raised garden. A raised garden is simply a garden above the ground. I didn't want to dig. My back was sore from hauling and arranging fire pit bricks. I went the lazy and ugly route of buying cinder blocks from the hardware store: 14 to be exact. In hindsight I'm not sure I did my back any good with this. Cinder blocks are heavy. Maybe I got a win by not getting as dirty and the cinder blocks can be reused in the future. The real win though was not allowing the perfectionist in me play a role in the building of the garden. If I would have dug out the garden I would have had to level it: perfectionist stuff. Going with blocks directly on the existing undulating ground meant it wouldn't be level unless I dug a little. I definitely wasn't going to do both.
I ended up shaving a few inches off the recommended dimensions as it would have taken more blocks or digging to go 12" deep. The blocks are 8" tall. Good enough for now.
Blueberry shrubs like acidic soil. The easy way to ensure acidity is peat moss. Easy works. I went with 3.8 cu. ft. of it since that's how it was packaged. I added 2 cu. ft. of compost and 4 cu. ft. of potting soil. We, again I mean he, thought this would be enough.
With the blocks and nearly 10 cu. ft. of soil stuff it was time to pick a location. I didn't want to have to clear the area and didn't want it to encroach on the camping or parking areas. I decided on an area that borders the parking and is just before the drop off to the river. If I end up driving over it with my truck I have bigger problems. This is also an area that Rita likes to crap in. She'll find a new one. It gets plenty of sun and may even get some pine needles, which are a little acidic, dropping from the pine above. There's plenty of direct sunlight as it's along the drop off and there are no trees blocking the morning and evening sun.
The nursery had 2 highbush varieties availabe: blueray and bluecrop. In the photo below the blueray is on the left, bluecrop on the right. So far I've learned that the blueray keeps it color a little better in the fall. Bluecrop may be dying already, not sure. I'm looking forward to seeing if there are any changes next weekend now that they have proper soil and a good watering.
With that my first garden is born.