Change of Plans

So I was going to do that parking strip in bright pinks and purples to echo the colors elsewhere in the front yard. I was planning on Siberian iris, catmint, maybe some lady's mantle, all anchored by the Double Knock Out rose that I ordered via catalog. Unfortunately, a screw-up resulted in my order being cancelled.

Since I no longer had a rose to dictate a certain plan, I decided to try something else. I had a 'Darrow' blueberry bush that had to be moved to make way for another bed in the potager. It's been back there for three years, growing from a tiny stick into a less tiny stick, but never giving me more than a couple of berries. Presto! A new concept for the parking strip: fruit bed.
 
I love blueberries, but the prices in the stores are not cheap. The problem with growing your own in Indiana is that they require acidic soil. We have so much lime in our clay that the soil tends to be neutral to alkaline, which means that if I want my blueberries to do well, I have to amend the soil. Lots of people do that with aluminum sulfate (the same stuff they use to keep their hydrangeas blue), but as an organic gardener, I needed to find another route: peat moss, a natural acidifier. 
Ideally, you start trying to change the Ph of your bed at least a year before your plant. Right. Like I think that far ahead. I needed to transplant pronto, plus I wanted to get that strip planted before weeds could take hold and ruin all my hard work.
In a fortuitous coincidence, the original bush had struck a new bush right next to it. I have transplanted both the blueberry and son of blueberry to the parking strip to anchor my new fruit bed. I had already amended the parking strip with composted manure and mushroom compost (acid soils tend to be highly organic). I dug extra big holes and tossed in some peat moss, as well as mixing peat moss into the back fill. If I stick to mulching that bed with acidic materials like peat moss and pine straw, I should gradually be able to lower the Ph to the 5.5 or so berries need.

If you think I'm going through all this trouble for two blueberry bushes, think again. I'm ordering some more on the Web. Blueberries do better with cross-pollination (some can't self pollinate at all), so extra bushes should also help the yield. These are high-bush blueberries, meaning they grow in bush form and not flat to the ground like lowbush berries. 
As for the bare soil problem, I have filled in around blueberry and son of blueberry with strawberry plants gleaned from elsewhere in my garden. For some perplexing reason, some enormous strawberry plants were growing in the part shade border next to the Anabelle hydrangeas. I think they might be the spawn of some strawberries from when I used that spot as a holding bed when I had all the hardscaping done a few years ago. So I dug them up, dropped them into the new berry bed, and watered the whole thing. It looks a bit of a mess right now (see photo), but in a month or so, I expect there will be a bit less bare soil. All that extra space will be filled with new berry bushes and whatever other fruit I can come up with. 
Bring on the whipped cream and shortcake!

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Fraudulent Farmgirl
I teach garden and homesteading skills—the stuff your great-grandmother knew how to do. But if there's a faster, cheaper, or easier way to do it, I'll find it!By day, I design earth-friendly gardens for Spotts Garden Service. By night, I don my Wellies to become the Fraudulent Farmgirl. On my small urban homestead, I've ripped out the front lawn to plant vegetables and fruit trees, turned the garage into a chicken coop and grown enough strawberries to feed half the neighborhood.

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