Blueberry Bush Virginia Berry Farm
Growing Guide
 

Blueberries

We grow blueberries for every hardiness zone:  Northern for zones 4-7, Southern for zones 6-9, and Rabbiteye for zones 8-9.  Choose the correct variety for your location, make sure to include more than one variety for proper fertilization, and follow these simple practices for years of fresh blueberries.

Choose a location:  Blueberries prefer full sunlight for best fruit production, but will grow in 50% shade.

To plant:  Once a location is chosen, dig a hole twice as wide and the same depth as your root ball.  Gently loosen the roots and place in the hole.  Combine the existing soil with sphagnum peat moss and fill the hole so that settled soil will leave the plant at the same level at which it was in the pot.  Soil must be extremely well-drained.  Plant in raised areas, if there is any chance of water standing around the roots.

Watering:  Water plants immediately after planting and through dry periods.  It is a good idea to lay a soaker hose or dripline along the plants before mulching.

Fertilizing:  Blueberries require an acid soil (4.8 to 5.2 pH).  You may use any fertilizer intended for acid-loving plants, but a time-release, complete product is best.  Place 5 to 15 ounces over the root zone at the beginning of the growing season.  Never add manure:  it is alkaline.

Pruning:  Our plants require no initial pruning and will fruit during the first season from existing shoots produced during the previous growing season.  Berries are borne on buds of last year's wood, so light pruning is done to remove older and weaker wood.  Blueberries should be pruned during the winter while the bushes are dormant.  In winter, flower buds are easily visible on one-year-old wood.

Mulch:  Mulch the plants heavily, to about 6 inches, to maintain a good moisture level and to reduce weed competition.
 

Blackberries & Raspberries

These North American natives are easy to grow in your yard or garden, if a few simple rules are followed:

Choosing a location:  Brambles prefer full sunlight for best fruit production, but will grow in 50% shade.  Choose a location where you have not grown potatoes, tomatoes or eggplant.  These plants are hosts to verticillium wilt that may live for many years in your soil and affect brambles.

To plant:  Once a location is chosen, dig a hole twice as wide and the same depth as your root ball.  Gently loosen the roots and place in the hole.  Combine the existing soil with compost and topsoil and fill the hole so that settled soil will leave the plant at the same level at which it was in the pot.

Watering:  Water plants immediately after planting and through dry periods.  It is a good idea to lay a soaker hose or dripline along the plants before mulching.

Fertilizing:  Do not over feed.  This will lead to lots of foliage, but less fruit.  Use a neutral formula such as 10-10-10.

Pruning:  Pruning is key to productivity.  Our plants require no initial pruning and will fruit during the first season from existing canes produced during the previous growing season.  After fruiting is completed, prune the old cane off as low as possible and discard.  These canes must be burned or disposed of since they may become disease hosts.  By removing old canes your plant will constantly be stimulated to produce newer, more productive wood that will produce your fruit.

Mulch:  Heavy use of mulch will retard week competition, aid in moisture retention and add humus to your site.

Trellis:  A simple trellis will help to restrain plants and make picking simple.

 

Grapes

Home fruit gardeners can be successful, if they select the right grape cultivars, maintain a good fertility and pest management program, and properly prune grapevines annually.  Here's what you need to know.

Choosing a location:  Grapes can be grown almost anywhere soil is fertile and well-drained, and where plants receive sun most of the day.  Good air flow is also beneficial.

To Plant:  Once a location is chosen, dig a hole twice as wide and the same depth as your root ball.  Gently loosen the roots and place in the hole.  Combine the existing soil with compost and topsoil and fill the hole so that settled soil will leave the plant at the same level at which it was in the pot.  Shredded leaves and bark work well as mulch to prevent weed competition.

Trellis:  Before growth begins the second year, a support for the vines, either a trellis or an arbor, must be provided.  Vines planted for training on a trellis are normally placed 8 feet apart, while those planted for training on an arbor can be placed 4 feet apart.  Ease of picking fruit and pruning should be kept in mind when considering trellis options.  Often the existing property may suggest a location adjacent to a porch or walkway.

Watering:  Water well.  Grapes require approximately one inch of water per week through the first growing season.  Water plants every 7 to 10 days during dry weather.

Fertilizing:  Grapes perform best where the soil pH is between 5.0 and 6.0.  Apply lime only when soil analysis indicates a need.  If necessary, apply a complete low analysis fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, in the spring.  Keep fertilizer 6 to 12 inches from the trunk and spread evenly under the spread of the vine.

Pruning:  Pruning grape vines can be a mystery, but if you remember that all grapes produce fruit on one-year-old wood, you have taken the first step towards viticulture!  Grape vines must be pruned annually to encourage a high yield of good quality grapes.  Pruning is best done in winter or early spring.  No pruning is necessary the first year.  During winter following the first year select the strongest stem, remove all other stems and stake the remaining stem.  This will become your trunk.  Allow stems to grow from the trunk.  In spring begin removing all but two of the very best side shoots.  During mid-summer of the 2nd year cut back the trunk when it reaches the desired height.  Remove any new side branches that don't fit your plan.  Cut back all but the desired side branches and the main trunk during the 2nd winter.  What you have now is the basic frame for the plant - an upright stem with two sets of side branches.