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Common Household Remedies Request

Here's another try at my side garden! I'm taking the suggestion of low bush blueberries:

As you can see, it's got partial sun through trees in the A.M. and partial sun round the corner of the house in the late afternoon on. I grew wildflowers there successfully last year, but they were at least two weeks behind the wildflowers in full sun.

Here is the blurb on the bayberries:

5-10' x same. Rounded deciduous semi-evergreen very salt-tolerant shrub thrives in full sun to partial shade and in sandy poor soils to heavy clay soils. A common sight on Maine’s coastal islands. Rubbing the glossy deep green leaves between your fingers produces one of the most delicious smells in the world. Leaf and root teas are medicinal. Small greyish-blue waxy berries produced on female plants are highly aromatic, historically used for making candles. Non-showy flowers appear in late spring followed by fruit production during summer into late fall. Plants feed numerous wildlife species and are especially craved by swallows. Excellent in masses or hedges, tends to sucker. Fixes nitrogen

So "craved by swallows" sounds like what I want, and "massed or hedges" sounds like the kind of mess birds want.

And the blurb on the lowbush blueberries:

Lustrous blue-green medicinal foliage is good in teas, and turns an amazing combination of bronze, orange and scarlet in the fall.

Here is the University of Maine planting guide:

Soil: The growing area should be well drained and rich in organic matter with a pH of 4.0 to 5.0. The lower pH will also help to discourage weeds. One pound of sulfur applied to 100 square feet of soil should lower the pH about 1 pH unit. The sulfur works best if it is tilled in the soil to about 6 inches. To build up organic matter add peat moss, sawdust, or composted leaves to the soil. These additions will also help reduce the soil acidity. Blueberries require a sandy soil. If the soil is too heavy, the plants will not thrive. Coarse sand will improve drainage in heavy soils.

So on soil, I have heavy clay, so the bayberries will be happy. I'll have to amend the soil for the blueberries both with sand -- to bad the bed isn't near the road! -- and with sulfur.

I assume it's OK to put plants with non-matching soil requirements together.

* * *

So, two kinds of berries should attract birds. And the lilacs and the bayberries should provide nesting, especially if I start throwing twigs and sticks and deadheads and waste plant matter around their heads. (I didn't think it made sense to put anything in or around the lilacs, because it doesn't really look like there's space.

So that is the current iteration. I already ordered the wildflower seed! So, something to look forward to in just.... Four or five months!

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nippersdad's picture
Submitted by nippersdad on

Have you gotten your soil test back yet? Best not to make a plan until you have received it.

Blueberries are an ericaceous plant and will require pretty good drainage and acid soils, HOWEVER, these types of plants do not have deep root systems. Blueberries, particularly the smaller, groundcovery types, grow on top of the soil in the leaf litter. As with azaleas, you can often just about pick them up off of the ground because of their pancake type of root system. So, bottom line, you will not have to do all that much soil prep to plant them. You can just scratch up the existing soil into a low mound (check your soil test!) and shovel your prepared soil and mulch around the roots. Plant high and let the roots spread into the mulch and you should have little difficulty with root rot.

So, yes and no. Don't prepare the entire bed too deeply for blueberries and both should thrive together. The bayberry will spread quite a ways, following its' wont, so it should be unaffected by the little mounds that you have created for the blueberries.

Submitted by Dromaius on

Soil test! Wow, people do those, huh. My soil test consists of, plant something. Did it grow? If it grew, it's happy, if not, move it elsewhere.

nippersdad's picture
Submitted by nippersdad on

I do it myself, sometimes.

Soil is not a microclimate, though, and just moving things usually will not fix a PH problem barring special circumstances. When you have little space and want to provide food for wildlife, it pays not to have a dying, yellow something that never produces over a protracted period clotting up your real estate. You want something that looks like a luxuriant mess to attract the birds, not the type that looks like you have a Chernobyl right down the street that will make them flee. That would be counterproductive.

I have seen some really pretty excruciating landscapes that could have been easily prevented with just an eight dollar investment in a soil test. :)

Submitted by lambert on

I ordered the test, but didn't have time to do it. But ya know.... I'm with Dromaius!