More on Growing Blueberries – Hopefully NOT for the Birds

This is my favorite time of year for fruit. Blueberries are just coming into season and local peaches and various stone fruit are all in abundance in the northeast. Yes, we can purchase these year-round, but the local peaches, plums, nectarines all taste so much better than the ones that come out of cold storage. And blueberries can be downright watery at other times of the year, too. So, knowing they are local and seasonal makes me feel better on a morale level and smug on an intellectual level. But let’s be honest, I just prefer the taste.

Local Peaches Purchased July 26, 2012

I visited a greenmarket this morning and the farm stand had plums in every color under the sun – from varying shades of the traditional purple, to yellow to red to pink.  These 2 lonely fellows are all that remain from 2 pounds of mixed plums and peaches purchased this morning,. Here they are in all their glory – small, uneven in shape and even a little bruised. As you can see, they look nothing like the perfect specimens (in appearance only!) available year-round at the market, and thankfully don’t resemble them in taste either. Yum!

So, let’s talk about growing blueberries. Hubs and I have made 4 attempts so far in 4 years to grow blueberries on our own. And 4 failures. Kinda sad for a bush and fruit that are native to our region, don’t you think?  We were lulled into thinking they didn’t need much sun because they’re natives (wrong), we were careless in the soil we planted them in, and most recently, we had signs of success, but then failed to protect. Back in May we had little green berries growing beautifully on our 2 humble bushes. But they proved to be irresistible for the bird population and were gone before they had a chance to turn from green to red to pink to blue. Foiled again. But now we’ve got a 3 step plan and gosh darnit, 2013 will be our year for backyard blueberries. I hope…

I snapped this picture at the 2012 New Marlborough Garden tour last weekend. The Gays live in New Marlborough and have a beautiful property in the foothills of East Mountain State Forest, which they kindly opened up to neighbors during the tour. They’ve created a delightful garden in a wooded setting featuring shade-loving plants, a stone pond loaded with Koi goldfish and many stone sculptures crafted from stones on their property. I loved exploring their veggie patch and came across a creative way to protect blueberries pictured below. You must put up netting to keep away the birds, and this can often be unsightly. Here they’ve created tents using skinny tree branches and it looks almost natural. Ingenious and aesthetically pleasing. So, Hubs will be trying this next year (step 3 of Project Blueberry). I’ll write about steps 1 & 2 later. Non-linear, I know.

Blueberry bushes under netting at the Gays’ garden in New Marlborough, MA



  1. A Table in the Sun says:

    You’re right about the netting. In my yard, it’s the figs that our California birds are after.

  2. Tamara Mannelly says:

    This post is so timely! We have several raspberry bushes and were hopeful about this year’s bounty. Not sure how blueberries grow, but raspberries fruit on the second year growth. I have gotten berries the past two years, but not many as the bushes were still so small. This year, I had an enormous amount of second year canes. Well, we had lots of flowers and ripening berries but every couple days when we would go out to pick the ripe ones, they were gone. Finally determined that the birds were eating everything! We were able to pick a few bowlfuls but should have gotten much, much more. That netting system does look attractive and natural. May have to give that a shot next year.

    • Dang birds! I foolishly thought that it might have been a rabbit or other animal, but our friends at the CSA told us that it’s definitely birds. I am sure it’s the same for your raspberries. Let me know if you try this method – it looks so much better than other netting I’ve seen used

  3. Kay Wasinger says:

    “hubs” should recall our attempts at blueberry growing when he was just a boy! We had a couple of bushes in the back of our yard and had the same “thievery” problem – we tried fencing to keep the critters out but decided to give it up and encourage birds. That leads me into a longer tale, but I will spare your readers ……

  4. That’s too funny, Kay. I don’t think he’s ever mentioned growing blueberries as a child. Will have to ask. We can add more tales to our existing ‘blueberry blues’

  5. Just bought a huge bag of white nectarines. My favorite fruit.


  1. […] I mentioned in an earlier post, Hubs and I have a 3 step plan for growing blueberries that we will implement this year for the […]

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