Today I cleared my blueberry patch. I pulled ferns and weeds and trimmed rhododendrons back to leave a cleared ring of about two feet around each bush. I dug up the prolific (and beautiful) native plox, piled it in a wheelbarrow and will relocate it tomorrow. The bushes look much better. If the berries start to ripen, I have bird netting ready to use.
I did the clearing because my new blueberries seem to have “mummy berry”. Bummer. I was thinking the berry patch could have native ferns and wild flowers growing under the bushes. But last year, my bushes lost all their berries and this year the same seems to be happening. My bushes bloomed well this spring, fruit set, and now the young berries are shriveling up. Mummifying is a good description. I am reading this is caused by a fungus that propagates year to year through infected berries dropped on the ground and not swept away. It is agrivated by reduced air flow – from ferns and native flowers growing too close, I think. I’ll gradually see how much clearing is needed.