Quick, Easy, and Cheap Blueberry Net Tunnel

We put in our blueberry plants along a side fence because we wanted to utilize the space better.  It is the second year they are in and they have started putting out lots of blueberries.  I know you are supposed to pick off the buds to encourage growth up, but we love blueberries so much we wanted to let them grow blueberries.

In our small side area next to the driveway (3 ft x 19 ft) we originally had about 6 purple artichoke plants that we started from seed.  Unfortunately they just didn’t produce much of anything edible, and given the amount of plant matter they generated we decided to replace those plants.  Our son LOVES blueberries and one of our relatives has a nice blueberry patch that generates pounds of blueberries every year.

We decided to replace the artichoke plants with blueberry bushes.  We found a number of really helpful pages that helped us choose which varieties we wanted to plant:

The UC Small Farm Program has come good commentary on acidifying the soil which is necessary for good Blueberry growth.

We went with four different Southern Highbush varieties:

  • Bountiful Blue (from Monrovia Nursery) – this one was the most expensive because it was more established.  Winner of “Best Edible Plant” at the 2011 Farwest Show, ‘Bountiful Blue’ has a prolific fruit set of large, super sweet berries and very blue foliage. Will set fruit alone, but the berries will be more prolific if it is planted near another blueberry; Requires only 150-200 chill hours. Semi-evergreen in warm climates.
  • Legacy – Two plants – Blueberry Legacy, Vaccinium ‘Legacy’, is vigorous, upright and is especially suited for the Southern U.S. The plants are high yielding and very consistent year after year. ‘Legacy’ has medium-sized fruit with a very superior flavor and sweetness. Rated as the highest flavor blueberry overall. Blueberries are extremely nutritious and have a high vitamin content. Blueberry Legacy is a new, very attractive landscape plant and a heavy producer of delicious fruit. The fruit ripens in August, and extends your blueberry season. The brilliant fall foliage is bright orange and stays on the bush into the winter The plants are resistant to stem blight disease.
  • Reveille – Supposed to have the best taste and texture – Southern Highbush — Midseason. This berry has a pleasing crunchy texture and excellent flavor. Chilling requirements are estimated to be between 400 and 500 hours.
  • Misty – Southern Highbush — Early. In the west, Misty is quite vigorous, growing very well both on the coast and in the inland heat. This excellent fruit does well in areas with chilling as low as 150 hours and all areas with mild winters and hot summers.

The blueberries are just about set this year and starting to ripen.  We needed a way to cover the blueberries to protect them from the birds.  This is what we came up with:

Blueberry Netting

  • We used 10 ft lengths of 1/2″ PVC pipe.
  • 1/4″ rebar was pounded into the ground near the driveway.
  • The PVC is secured to the fence using little plastic collars.
  • 7 ft tall deer fence netting that we already had was used and secured to the PVC using some clips at the back.

This would only go up when the blueberries are ripening.  At all other times of the year this structure would be decommissioned – rebar pulled out, PVC pipe and netting stored away.

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