Blueberries picked on one day.
This year has been the best ever blueberry season for us. We have three blueberry plants – two we don’t know the variety of, but we do know that one is called ‘Tasty Blue‘, but which one is it? We don’t know – the labels blew away and got lost. We have had the plants for about 6-7 years and the harvest so far over the years goes :– two berries, none- (the birds beat us), none (darn birds again), none (those birds!!), some, a handful, and then this year was an extravaganza as we have had a large harvest early in February, then a huge harvest (see photo above) on 20th February, and there is still more to be picked.
There are multiple reasons why we had a bumper crop this year :
- The weather: this season has been different to usual, with varied weather patterns. I have mentioned this in several previous posts that we had an early summer. The weather was hot early on from October and into November. December, especially around Christmas and New Year, was unusually wet, then we had a heat wave three-quarters of the way through February with temperatures in the 30s for almost a week, which is very unusual for this region. Just before this heat wave we had very cold temperatures for a week and we thought Autumn had arrived early.
- Lots of fruiting plants were producing an abundance of flowers this season, including our blueberries. Plants were fruiting early this season.
- The blueberry plants have had time to mature – they are now 6-7 years old.
- We covered the blueberry plants from the birds with a black plastic flexible netting. We have done this for several years, but made a better attempt at sealing the gaps to keep the birds out this time.
- The blueberry plants are in pots and were repotted 2-3 years ago and since then the roots have been left to stabilise.
- They were pruned heavily after last fruiting season (maybe they were pruned in accordance with the moon).
- We built up the soil quality so it was acidic. Last year we put pine needles on top of the soil (from a chopped-up recycled pine Christmas Tree) around the base of the blueberry stems, and let them break down. Then, earlier this year we added a special potting mix to the soil. It was Dalton’s brand Special Acid Mix and this has a low PH for acid loving plants in containers. It contains fertilisers, plus controlled release fertilisers which last for 8 months and a granular wetting agent and something called Trichodry. So they could hardly fail with all that technology and care.
As for the problem with the birds – the daring clever winged scoundrels were letting themselves into the enclosed netting area to get at the blueberries, essentially trapping themselves within the netting, filling themselves with berries, then letting themselves out again. I watched a blackbird do this, but I didn’t want to scare the bird or it would have panicked inside the netting enclosure and could have hurt itself. I waited until it had safely left the netting enclosure, then I sealed the gap with a peg. (The animals here seem to be fearless and clever – see an earlier blog of mine showing a picture of a rodent I hanging upside down to eat the pepino fruit.) The blackbirds show that they are totally fearless not only by entering the netting enclosure, but also when they ignore my attempts to shoo them off the berries. When they are outside the netting pecking through it to get at the berries, I tap on the window to warn them off, but they just look back at me, cock their heads to one side and stand there defiantly as if to say “Yeah, whatever, we’ll do as we please”, and they go back to pecking the blueberries. Maybe I just don’t look very scary (which is a compliment in a way) and they play on my lack of ability to ever hurt them. Possibly, and most likely, is that they think we grow the blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, Macqui Berries, and currants for their dining pleasure, it would be nice if they left some for us.
Watermelon and Blueberry Cocktail:
We juiced a watermelon :
Watermelon Juice only
Then added the juice of our freshly picked, organic blueberries. The watermelon and blueberry juice was double strained, like with a cold soup (gazpacho), and according to Wikipedia “There are many modern variations of gazpacho, often in different colours and omitting the tomatoes and bread, in favour of avocados, cucumbers, parsley, watermelon, grapes, meat stock, seafood and other ingredients”, so since the Wikipedia authority has spoken, logically, I can call this a ‘Watermelon and Blueberry Gazpacho’, which sounds better than a ‘Watermelon and Blueberry Cold Soup’, but not as good as a plain ‘Watermelon and Blueberry Cocktail’.
Watermelon and Blueberry Cocktail :