Thursday, March 10, 2011

Yearning for Blueberries

I have always wanted a blueberry plant. Their plump purple fruits are available year round in the grocery stores, but they tend to be expensive. Besides, they taste best when they are in season.

We live near Apple Hill, and I take my children there every summer a few times each summer to go berry picking. We three enjoy these excursions. My husband doesn't understand this; he considers picking any type of fruit himself as work. The children love the experience: the more berries they find, and the fuller they make their baskets, the happier they are. They compete with each other in trying to find the biggest berry.

Personally, I feel grounded in Apple Hill. There, we travel the winding roads leading to private ranches, enjoy the fresh air, and visit the many acres filled with orchards and berry farms. Also, knowing that I am picking the freshest fruit I can for my family, and knowing for certain that they will be sweet and juicy. is satisfying. All the same, berry picking is expensive and I try to limit how full they make their son is still little, so this is not a hard task; most of the berries he finds end up in his mouth. My daughter is much better, but she is so picky that it takes her FOREVER to fill her basket. We usually are able to get out of there without too much financial damage. However, you also have to take into account the gas and time.

Happily, I found that one of the farms sells blueberry plants. I purchased one a few years ago, envisioning fresh blueberries every summer in my backyard. I repotted it in a big wooden planter and placed it in the sunniest spot in my backyard. I gave it a trellis to help it straighten (I was horribly bent when I bought it). I water it religiously during the hot summers. I didn't expect much the first year; I was told by the grower that it takes at least one year for the new plant to acclimate to a new environment. The next summer, still no flowers or berries. I played with the pH in the soil to see if that would make any difference. I finally got the soil at the right pH, and this year I have hopes of seeing the (ahem) fruits of my labor. I plan on tying sparkly things and old CDs to the surrounding fence and trees to hinder any birds' attempts to peck at the fruit.

Wish me good luck and full bowls of fresh berries! This year, I think I might buy a thornless blackberry bush, to keep this one company...