Spring 2015: How does your garden grow?

Wendy S. Delmater
By Wendy S. Delmater on Sun, May 3, 2015 - 4:27pm

From time to time I've found that members like to share how their growing projects are going. Whether it's a report of how you Meyers Lemon made it through the winter indoors, how you seedlings or saplings are doing, or what you're planting on the patio: here is a place to share.

We especially seem to enjoy hearing about how you've expanded your existing garden (square foot, traditional, French intensive) and how your long-term plans are coming along. Share your successes and failures, and let's help each other learn as a community!

 

28 Comments

pinecarr's picture
pinecarr
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Posts: 2246
Spring project: blueberry bushes

Is that your garden, Wendy? I've got garden-envy!  Your greens are beautiful.  We are only just now starting planting season as the snow and cold held on for so long in the north east.

Ok, so my big project so far this spring has been my blueberry bushes. 

My first lesson with growing blueberry bushes a few years back is that you really can't just stick them in the ground and expect them to grow.  They honest to God DO need acidic soil, just like all the books tell you!  Yes, I have a brown thumb.  So after years of watching my blueberry plants (not big enough to call "bushes") barely survive from year to year, with zero growth, I finally caught on and decided to move them to raised beds where I could better control the soil content.

So a couple weeks ago, I amended the soil in 2 of my raised beds with peat moss, which is supposed to be good for helping to make soil acidic.  Hopefully I used the right amount (I'll probably find I need to pay attention to what the books say on THAT too!).  I planted 8 blueberry plants I got from St Lawrence Nurseries, which I am sorry to say is closing after the spring deliveries so the owners can retire.  I have appreciated being able to buy trees and berry bushes and grape vines from someone whose winters are similarly harsh to ours. 

After that, I covered the earth with a few inches of leaves to help hold in the moisture and keep down the weeds, and layers of pine needles from nearby white pines (acidic).  Fingers-crossed that I've got something going that will work. 

I checked on the blueberries after a day or two with great hopes to find them thriving, only to discover that rabbits (or possibly deer) had chewed much of the new growth and stems down on all but a couple of the plants.    Yes, the books are also right about needing to put fencing around the blueberry bushes!  (Lesson 2: blueberry bushes really do need fencing to protect them from critters).

My first attempt at fencing-in the raised beds was to try to do the same kind of fencing that I have around my garden; by framing the garden with green metal posts that are made to hold wire fencing, and then wrap "hardware cloth" (dense fencing material) around it.  But that didn't work; the ground where I have my raised beds has a very hard layer of stone or something not far beneath, and I couldn't get the fencing posts in deep enough to stand and be stable.  

Next, I tried some plans I stumbled on about a week ago for making fence-boxes using PVC pipe and 90 degree PVC elbow joints with supports from http://www.grit.com/farm-and-garden/building-garden-fence-boxes.aspx.  I used 1" pvc pipe and elbows for my first two fence boxes, because the 1" elbows with supports were, I thought, the smallest diameter (and therefore least expensive) choice available to me after striking out at local Lowes and Home Depot websites.  This is what I eventually found at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00MNIZM7I/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o03_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1.  But it turned out when I went to my local Lowes DID have smaller diameter 90 degree elbows with supports: 1/2".  So that is what I am going to use for my next set of boxes (much less expensive than the 1", but still not cheap).

The 2 boxes I made came out well, just like they show.  I used zip ties to hold the fencing to the pipe, as was suggested by commentors at the end of the article for making the fence boxes.  You can buy huge bags of them at Lowes.   I think the job would have been a lot harder using bailing wire as the grit.com article showed, because I used a LOT of zip ties to prevent the rabbits from being able to sneak in.  I do wonder about how well the zip ties will hold up to weather though.

My son helped me carry the fence box to the garden and it fit nicely.  (Make sure to take into account the size added by the pvc joints when you measure!).  The one problem is the box does not sit level on the ground, so rabbits could still squeeze underneath it.  So I will have to dig down, around the interior edges of the raised beds, so the fence-box will sit snugly below ground, around the bushes.  Hopefully this will work!

I do like the fact that I should be able to reuse these over and over again, and that they should be pretty easy to cover with bird netting some eons from now when I actually have blueberries for them to steal.

Ok, so now that I spent too much money on PVC pipe, and my finger tips are raw from tightening up zip ties all weekend, I am ready to learn the much easier and less expensive ways others know of to build fencing to protect your blueberry bushes!

Jbarney's picture
Jbarney
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Blueberries

Hi Pincarr,

Blueberries were some of the first things that we planted on our new property in St. Albans Vermont.  I planted two Highbush plants, as well as one Patriot.  We used peat moss and bone meal when we planted them, and they are all within a hop skip and a jump from the house.  I have not put up any fencing to protect them, and here we are in the first week of May and each of them are starting to bud.  Which is nice. 

Thanks for the warnings are the critters.....

Jason

pinecarr's picture
pinecarr
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Hey Jason!

Maybe you won't have the same problem I had with the rabbits or whatever if your blueberries have made it this far into spring untouched. 

I'm encouraged that you also used peat moss for your blueberries.  Thanks also for mentioning the bone meal.  I  had to look up what that was for, and read it was good for adding phosphorous to the soil, which can help with berry formation.  Good to know!

Thanks,

pinecarr

 

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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current garden

No, pinecar, that is not my garden - my camera broke and I just got a new one so photos soon. It's similar though.

Regarding blueberries: if they get off to a bad start they experts tell me they will never bear well, so my experience is to just replace them or add more bushes. Extra water and nitrogen when they are developing fruit is always good, though. I just put in a "pink lemonade" blueberry bush (t was a gift) and will have to add more since I shocked one years ago with wood ash (alkaline, I did not know any better)  and planted the others in too much shade based on the bad advice of a volunteer at the local Ag coop office. I buy mine from Ty Ty Nursery in GA.

Here is what else we have this year, going from the northwest corner of our property counterclockwise. Our house faces west.

I've tried to concentrate on perennials and edible landscaping, so along with the not-happy-in-partial-shade blueberries, in the front yard we have an olive sapling and a new honey fig and a Chinese chestnut sapling (both in their 2nd year) - all very carefully planted so when they reach their final growth they will not interfere with each other. The old brown turkey fig had a rough winter but that will not slow its fruiting down much, if the leafing out is any indication. New blueberries will go along the front fence, as a hedge. Ginger is in a pot on the porch.

The southwest corner has two new Arapaho blackberry canes, chosen for their drought resistance. behind those is a muscadine grape trellis. Behind those along the fence on a slope are tiger lilies and then an asparagus patch. behind that is where we will plant either a dwarf pie cherry or a peach tree. Behind that is our mulberry tree, compost pile underneath, and behind that is a row of hazelnuts. Across from the mulberry the south side of the house has a long raised bed with a trellis. Currently this bed has cabbage, kale, radishes, beets and peas - all doing well. We bought a hen house but have not yet assembled it since a neighbor is providing eggs. We have an old beehive that needs cleaned and filled: another neighbor has a huge apiary though, so that is not a priority.

The back yard is not fully planted yet. It has 17 raised beds. One is currently producing strawberries, another walking onions that overwintered, another is producing lettuces interplanted with carrots, and one is full of perennial herbs: lavender, thyme, borage, celeriac (for parsley), and oregano. I will add sage and basil and cilantro/coriander to the herbs today.

The beds that were planted last weekend contain sunchokes (a.k.a. Jerusalem artichokes), cucumbers, green peppers, banana peppers, and Kentucky wonder pole beans. Going in soon are bush beans--wax & blue lake green beans--as well as Hungarian bread seed poppies, tomatoes ( I have a volunteer seedling in the compost!) and okra - as well as annual flowers in a box I reserve as a draw for pollinators.

Back the landscaping/perennials: we have two apple trees whose tap roots seem to have finally hit and are taking off, and a peach tree that has to be removed. The entire side fence is covered with grapes. The cinnamon ferns I put in last year are coming up. We're in the process of putting in shiitake plugs in logs, and will move a trellis to put in more green beans. We are about to put tomato plants in fresh soil in tubs, since they get bacterial wilts here otherwise. Behind the fence in the woods we have a wild peach tree, a hickory nut tree,  and have planted more Chinese chestnuts.

It's all humming! Off I go to add some purple-leafed basil, mainly for salads. So good!

 

Oliveoilguy's picture
Oliveoilguy
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Greetings from the South

Asparagus harvest is over in Texas. Irish potatoes are starting to blossom. We have had unprecedented rains this spring and wild flowers are going crazy. Probably the wettest spring since 1984.  Have not put tee-tape drip lines out yet because it seems we get a rain every week. Last frost was march 20th more or less. Often we have an Easter frost. Fruit trees are loaded (due to no late frost), with peaches, plumbs, figs, apricots, and pears. Sweet potato slips (500) are coming from somewhere in Tennessee and should arrive for planting in about a month. Going to try a large crop of butternut squash for storage this year. 

Most fun thing I'm going to try this season is a loofa tree. Going to put lots of finished compost around the base of a big tree and plant loofa gourds that can use the tree canopy as a trellis. It looks really cool. Will have to fence off the circle around the tree to keep out deer and other unwelcome guests.

Finally finished my greenhouse. Hope to publish an article about it and do seminars on passive greenhouse construction. Have an underground heat storage and transfer system and a cooling chimney effect that is working very well so far. Got through the project without a divorce, but it was close. 

Tall's picture
Tall
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Blueberries

Yes! They need acid soil. You can acidify with sulfer (not aluminum sulfate) to get to your target pH. Apply wait, test, repeat as needed.I use cottonseed meal to fertilize each year.

They also need a good amount of water as they do not have the fine root hairs that other plants use to maximize surface area. Many recommend removing flowers for the first 2 -3 years to allow the plant to establish before producing fruit.

As far as bonemeal in the planting hole, I used to do this too until I found out it was a 'garden myth' and can be harmful.

Check this site out, you can impress you friends with your uncommon gardening knowledge!

Bonemeal

http://puyallup.wsu.edu/~Linda%20Chalker-Scott/Horticultural%20Myths_fil...

Index page:

http://puyallup.wsu.edu/~Linda%20Chalker-Scott/Horticultural%20Myths_fil...

Nate's picture
Nate
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Posts: 590
Central California update

We have had a mild winter with average rainfall here.  The result has been an outstanding winter garden.  I have recently harvested the onions and garlic.  The onions are of exceptional quality this year.  They should be fully cured in 2-3 weeks.  The carrots are about 1/2 harvested, also of excellent quality.  This weekend I will dig a few potatoes to see where we are.  Historically we harvest them the first week of June.

Beans (green and wax) have not fared as well. We had a moist week during their germination, resulting in an unknown fungus.  I replanted about half of them and doubled down with 2 more 20 foot rows.  Peppers and tomatoes have been planted, but we will have to wait until late June for any meaningful production.

The fruit trees, including peaches, nectarines, and an aprium, had low to average sets.  All have been thinned at least once.  No bug damage yet.

Unlike our rainfall, the snow pack, source of our irrigation water, is at only about 10% of normal.  We have about 10 acres and I am considering growing a winter grain (wheat, oats, or rye) and letting the ground lie fallow during the summer.  One option I am checking out is a very drought tolerant legume (Tepary).  Everything I have read indicated that a crop can be produced with 1 irrigation. 

Blueberries are now planted here, but we have had issues with plants requiring acidic soils.  One area of interest I have are drought tolerant permanent crops - mainly almonds and grapes.  This is an area that has enormous potential and I suspect the larger treevine breeders are actively working on it.

 

sand_puppy's picture
sand_puppy
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Blueberries in Central Virginia

I've had the problem of lifeless blueberry bushes for 2 years, also, so I appreciate the discussions above.  I went to my local gardening supply store and found out that in this area the soil tends to be acidic naturally. No need to use spaghnum peat moss to acidify it here. I also was given cottonseed meal to fertilize with and told to water the blueberries more often during rainless spells.  (We usually have afternoon thunder showers several times a week, but not always.)

I planted an apple tree today--dug a 4' diameter, 2' deep hole (Yes my back is killing me right now!) and filled it back with the Virginia red-clay soil that I dug out mixed 50:50 with hard wood mulch.  Then dug a little depression in the center, removed the tree from the container and put the tree in the depression.  I was careful to plant the tree so that the junction of the roots and trunk (which has a name....) was an inch above the ground.  Then covered it with 4" of mulch and gave it a good thorough watering.

I brought 6 trees home from the nursery in 3 gallon containers the other day.  If my back doesn't break, I'll plant the next one tomorrow.  Hard work for us city-boys.   :-)

How to plant a tree from a container for any other city-boys and girls:

Sterling Cornaby's picture
Sterling Cornaby
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My garden today

I have a about a 0.2 acre lot, so not a lot of room.  Here is a 6 minute video of it a few weeks ago.

I have 11 fruit trees, 6 planted two years ago and 5 planted last spring.  Most the berry bushes I planted last year.  I have made two raised bed gardens put in earlier in 2015 for blueberries as well, which I augmented with sulfur (no soil tests just added a bunch of sulfur).  I have four 4'x8' square foot gardens with a PVC grid that is the watering system as well (works really nicely).  I fill them with mostly greens, peas, peppers, onions, carrots and such.  I have a very long raised bed along the back wall (boarders a church) which has two older very large grape vines (planted previously to me being here) and I put all my tomatoes, squash, melons, and cucumbers in this raised bed.  The vinery plants drape over the wall so everything turns green later in the year.  Most of that stuff I am waiting until ~May 15 (last day of likely heavy frost).  I got a lot of damaged plants planting a little too early last year so I am learning from that mistake!    

Since this video I have planted 6 more grape vines (near the post on the newly build back door pergola), planted a pomegranate bush (a local nursery I trust had it and said they grow great here--zone 6), ten blueberry bushes (small sticks really), and three arctic kiwi plants (they almost died due to transplant shock but I think I saved them...maybe?)

I am using the space I have and doing what I can with it. I am in the mode of planting perennials as fast as possible so they can get established for this year.

Today I learned how to get an video on youtube (unlisted) so I could share this will you all in this post.

Wendy, thanks for asking the question; I am always lurking!  I learn a lot from everyone else that takes time to post, and it inspires me. I hope I have something to add to inspire someone else as well!

Sterling

Michael_Rudmin's picture
Michael_Rudmin
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My experience with blueberries...

... would lead me to believe that blueberries do best when planted near the stump of a dead tree. I'm not sure if they're saprophytic, or if they just heavily like that kind of soil.

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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great comments, everyone

You're welcome, Sterling. The PVC tubing to water your raised SFG beds is a great idea!

All: as we add to or gardens this spring let's keep each other posted.

Yesterday  I weeded the nuisance vines out of the fig tree. We watered things. I neglected to mention that there are some rather large volunteer pumpkin vines in the compost pile and we're letting them try and evade squash vine borers (good luck, little plants!)

Today I filled a prepped bed with two types of basil, "purple ruffles" and our usual plain Italian variety. I weeded the herb bed. . .  and added sage and cilantro/coriander.  I cleared and planted a 4' x 3' raised bed and planted okra, bush beans, and dwarf marigolds.

I'm not always this busy, but it's plantin' time.

And thanks to perennials the harvest has already started: yesterday (and today) we again harvested strawberries and mulberries. I just put up 5 pints of frozen sliced strawberries and am working on canning 4 qts of mulberry pie filling. I harvested some bee balm, oregano, and thyme; the lavender is a bumper crop but not quite ready yet. Big salad tonight will have beet greens, cabbage, kale, black-seeded Simpson and Jericho cos  lettuces, radishes, snow peas,  and a bit of fennel.

Luke Moffat's picture
Luke Moffat
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Starter for Ten

Afternoon all,

I come as a complete novice, having only started planting in February of this year, so all guidance is welcome. I've done indoor and mini-greenhouse seed propagation and then transferred those healthy seedlings outside to my raised beds. The raised beds themselves were constructed from salvaged scaffolding board which I cut up and screwed together. I'm running two setups at the minute, one bed with a 50/50 mix of multi-purpose compost and manure and the other bed with a 50/50 mix of multi-purpose compost and miracle grow. The idea is to run an experiment and see what grows best in which mix.

I'm attempting to grow as much variety as possible to see what excels. Currently have potatoes, tomatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, peppers, beetroot, courgettes, sweetcorn, radishes and broccoli on the go.

I also aim to get some fruit going. I haven't had any success with blueberries yet (which seems to be a problem for others as well). Strawberries are starting to sprout but that's about it.

Next project is to work on an automated irrigation system.

I'm also not clued up on fertiliser yet so any guidance will be appreciated.

Mini-greenhouse

 

One of the two beds

 

 

All the best,

Luke

Thrivalista's picture
Thrivalista
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Loofahs are a sustainable peat moss substitute in potting soil

...according to an article from Organic Gardening several years ago, featuring a  farmdener who dried them, ground them up, and used them in place of coir or peat moss in his seedling and potting mixes.

robshepler's picture
robshepler
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Loofah as peat

Thrivalista that is great news! We use soil blocks for seed starting and we burn through a bunch of peat in the spring. Having a possible locally grown substitute is a very big relief.

We are getting it in the ground here in southern New Mexico that which is not frost sensitive anyway. We have one more potential frost tonight and then it looks like clear sailing. Because of our short season we do mostly transplants, we have been fighting some aphids in the greenhouse for the last few days. We resorted to inverting and dipping our seedlings in a Neem oil solution. Several thousand starts is a bit of a chore!

We are trying a new thing for us, growing flowers for the Farmers Market, have a bunch of Zinia started and we will see how they do. Starting a new Farmers Market this year too as well as taking over management of another market. The food integrity movement is booming and it is fun riding the wave.

Best of the growing season to you!

Rob 

Chris Mac's picture
Chris Mac
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Hugelkltur and Blueberries

Michael,

We have a homestead type of property in NE Washington State.  Blueberries are a regular crop up here for most home gardeners.  We have 18 bushes with plans to expand to 30 or so..

There is a method of gardening called "Hugelkultur" where rotting logs are buried on trenches 2-3 layers deep, and then covered over by soil.  The gardeners employing this method report excellent growth of crops, and significant water savings.  The theory is that the logs retain more water as they rot, and the resulting compost feeds plants sown in the soil mound.  So it makes sense that your blueberries planted near an old stump may be doing well.

We plan on trying Hugelkultur gardening on a small scale up on one of our small fields.  We have plenty of trees in varying states of decomposition to pull out of our forest land.  For now, most of our food production comes from a large traditional garden with a mix of raised beds and standard crop rows.

One more thing about blueberries - they thrive in acidic soil.  You may want to send a soil sample in to your local extension office for testing.  If the soil is too alkaline, you may need to raise the acidity level.  We've used coffee grounds to do this successfully.  We also use natural fertilizers designed specifically for acid loving plants.

Chris

All-In's picture
All-In
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Berries

Chris,

I enjoyed reading about your blueberries.  I've read some about hugelkultur and it sounds like an excellent idea.  Although I think we can grow blueberries here in Texas (certain varieties, maybe), I've only tried blackberries, and they have been a great success.  I have 5 each of the Rosborough (developed by Texas A & M) and Kiowa (developed by the University of Arkansas) varieties.  Both are thorned and prolific.  The Kiowas are larger and sweeter than any blackberries I've tried.  They are thriving on our Luling clay soil here in Central Texas, with just good compost as a conditioner.  Probably hugelkultur would work here, too. First I'd have to find some trees!  Maybe old fence posts (untreated) would work.

We are also growing pecan trees on 2 of our acres - sort of an experimental orchard with 49 trees.  They are 3 years old.  We started them bare-root, just skinny 3 ft. sticks, and now they are 12 to 15 feet tall and looking good, even though clay soils are not the best for them.  We use irrigation usually, but we've had such an unusual amount of rain this spring that we just hope they don't drown!

Wishing you guys all the best this year,

Betty

 

pinecarr's picture
pinecarr
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Advice on rabbit-chewed young apple tree?

Hi All-

   1st, thanks Wendy for your advice on blueberry bushes; that

"...if they get off to a bad start they experts tell me they will never bear well, so my experience is to just replace them or add more bushes."

I took your advice and just got rid of one of my blueberry bushes that had been struggling to survive and replaced it.  I figured I can afford to replace a blueberry bush now, and they are available.  So if its odds aren't good, better to set the odds up in my favor now, while I can!

   Now I am hoping that you or someone else here can help me with another such dilemma.  We had a hard winter in the Northeast -lots of snow- and the rabbits did a real number on a couple of my fruit trees.  I have one young apple tree in particular (maybe 7 feet tall?), whose lower branches are all chewed down and dead, but the small top part is alive and looks healthy.  I am trying to decide if the tree "deserves" a chance to live, because it is still alive after all the punishment its lower branches took.  Or if it makes more sense, given the importance of establishing a healthy small orchard, to just replace it while I can?  Thoughts? 

  (BTW, the rabbit did not chew all around the trunk, which I have read is a death-sentence to trees.)

Doug's picture
Doug
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daffodils

I have planted daffodils around all my young fruit trees.  There has been no rabbit damage to the trunks but deer have nibbled on the branches.  They are generally too high for rabbits.

pinecarr's picture
pinecarr
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Danged hossenfeffer!!

Hi Doug-

   This tree was just a couple years old, so the lower branches weren't real high.  That plus we got so much snow this year, the bunnies got a couple foot "boost"!   Danged hossenfeffer!!:p

   PS the daffodils around the tree sound pretty!  Is it also meant as an animal deterrent? 

  

Quercus bicolor's picture
Quercus bicolor
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Rabbit chewed tree

Pinecarr,

I would replace the tree if it's young and small.  It will be difficult to prune it in a way that will help it redevelop strong low branches that will bear well and be easy to harvest.  When you replant the tree, and with any existing trees under about 2-3 inches in diameter, you can put a tree tube or a tube of 1/4" hardware cloth around the trunk from just below the soil line to about 24 inches.  This will prevent rabbit or rodent chewing of the trunk, although it won't solve the problem of rabbits reaching the lower branches from deep snow like you experienced last winter.

pinecarr's picture
pinecarr
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Rabbit chewed tree

Thanks Quercus bicolor.  I think you're right; I don't think there's any way to prune my damaged tree to redevelop strong lower branches that will bear well and be easy to harvest.  -Good point; it isn't just about whether the tree itself can survive, it is also about whether or not it is likely to be a productive part of the mini-orchard.  Thanks for your response!

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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wabbit probwems

This is one of our 3.5-year-old apple saplings. It's 6.5-ft tall. It took nearly FOUR YEARS to get taller than me, and we got 3 little apples the size of ping pong balls last year. Under no circumstances would I worry about the rabbit damage, pinecarr. It takes a long time to establish a tap root. That's the most important thing. I only say this since your tree is so young: the lower branches are not as big a deal. (ps - we use spiderwort under our apples to keep the grass back - they let lost of water in and have pretty purple flowers.)

Here is how long it takes for various trees to bear fruit (source: Stark Bros. Nursery)

Doug's picture
Doug
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animal deterrent

Yes, daffodils serve that function.  There is something about bulb plants (spring flowers, onions, garlic) that must taste bad to most critters because they don't eat them.  I started planting daffodils around young trees several years ago after I read somewhere (don't remember where) that they would discourage rabbits.  It's worked so far, even for young trees near old orchard trees that have branches hanging near the ground that rabbits have ravaged.  It's even true of young fruit trees I have near a neighbor's young trees that have been girdled by rabbits.

I also use plastic drain tile pieces as described by Quercus Bicolor on some trees.  That works very well, but I like the daffodils in spring.

Doug's picture
Doug
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I'm surprised

you are having so much difficulty with blueberries.  They are, after all, native to the region.  We planted two bushes about 15 years ago.  We probably put some kind of organic matter in with them, but have done little since then.  We have naturally acidic soil, so that helps.  They have been productive from year one and every year just produce more blueberries.  We have had no pest problems without fencing though there are plenty of rabbits and deer around.  Even though we produce more blueberries than we use, we planted three more bushes last year with thoughts of selling some at farmers markets or giving them to neighbors or a local food bank.  So far they seem to be thriving with no special care.

Go figure.

Doug

Thrivalista's picture
Thrivalista
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Spiderwort: it's more than just a groundcover

It's also a radiation indicator - the blue stamens of some species turn pink in the presence of radiation. (Only slightly O/T here...)

https://www.richters.com/show.cgi?page=QandA/Medicinal/20020506-1.html

pinecarr's picture
pinecarr
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Picture of rabbit-chewed apple tree

Here's a photo of the apple tree to give you a better idea of whether it is worth saving or not...even tho' the top is healthy, the lower branching limbs (framework) are in sad shape.  So I think Quercus may be right in that it would be difficult to successfully prune what's left of this to have a good framework for producing fruit. 

I had protected the lower trunk with that wrap-around plastic you can get for the bottom of fruit trees.  But that did little from stopping the hungry bunnies from chewing the trunk and branches above it.  Take heed all you other novice fruit tree growers!  The trees with "hardware cloth" wire fencing around them came out unscathed.  Curiously, some of the trees that weren't protected were completely untouched, like the Bali Cherry Trees and some of the other apples.

 

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pinecarr
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 13 2008
Posts: 2246
Me too, Doug!

I have friends a couple of miles away who are growing blueberries with little/no effort, as you describe.  And there is a "pick your own" blueberry place within a 15 minute drive.  So I know they "can" grow around here; very frustrating!

I strongly suspect the problem was that the soil here wasn't meeting the needs of the blueberries (probably not acidic enough, maybe not enough organic matter or other as well).  I put a couple of inches of peat moss (which is acidic) on my older blueberry bushes earlier this spring.  They had survived the last couple of years, but that's about it; little to no new growth.  Now, some weeks after the peat moss treatment, I believe the blueberry bushes look much "happier" than I've ever seen them: they have new growth, and healthy-looking vibrant leaves.  So I am hoping that I have solved my problem...

I was also going to share a photo of one of these blueberry bushes, but realized, after I'd taken the photo, that not only did it show the blueberries in peat moss, but also a "gift" that one of my dogs left under it!  So I'll spare you that photo.

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pinecarr
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 13 2008
Posts: 2246
Ray of hope for rabbit-chewed apple tree

So I was out checking my fruit trees again last night.   And would you believe that my chewed-up apple tree (photo posted above) is starting to grow what looks like may be new  branches in a couple of places where the lower framework branches were killed?  Maybe them getting chewed up, when the tree was young like that, had a growth-stimulating affect like the books say pruning can have?  I'm not sure what the reason is, but the new growth bought the little-apple-tree-that-could a reprieve for a while, maybe until fall, so I can wait and see if grows new lower limbs.  :)

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