Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The rooftop blueberry


The good news is that my summer pruning of the blueberry worked out very well. It put out a lot of new growth well ahead of the cold weather (so it had time to toughen up), and now there are lots of flowers. I gave it a thick mulch last fall of freshly ground coffee (Cafe Bustelo!), which would give it a nice hit of of acid and perhaps more caffeine than a blueberry requires.

The bad news is that my neighbour Danielle's blueberry seems kaput. Her whole terrace seems kaput. I must make enquiries. She may just have been too busy to garden. But my blueberry needed her blueberry for cross pollination. So there's that.

Also - no bees. I have not seen a honey bee, yet. We all know by now (don't we?) that bees are in deep doo-doo. Which means that we are, too. Dire doo-doo.

So, in this here microcosm of the macrocosm, I need bees, and I need another blueberry.

20 comments:

  1. I shouldn't put it this way but I "planted" my beloved cat Chloe in the garden last fall. She was over 18. I want to plant a blueberry bush on top to protect her. Someone told me recently that they should be planted in twos. Is this correct? I want to do this soon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's nice that you have garden so you could plant Chloe :-)

      Two different blueberry cultivars are best for cross pollination.

      They need acidic soil - it's hard to acidify soil, but you can use food like Espoma's Holly Tone, for acid-loving plants, and add fresh coffee beans, whole or ground, to the soil, and as a mulch. Used coffee is quite neutral, so no good.

      x

      Delete
    2. Thank you! I will test the ph of the soil. What about used coffee grounds? My guy drinks the stuff so we are always adding the used grounds to the composter. I stick with tea.

      Delete
  2. I haven't seen any bees in my area, either. It is cause for great concern, especially when there are none on the passion vine (usually their favorite plant in my yard.)

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  3. I have seen a couple of bees in Montreal so far...but we have many, many burrowing wasps, which make their nests just beneath the surface of sand in gardens and parks. They are supposedly not very aggressive, but a friend of mine got stung by one of them in his garden last year. You have a nice blog.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Linda. I have seen yellow jackets, and some bumble bees, so far...

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  4. omg!!! My husband ( a hort grad from capetown ;)) and I were just saying this weekend we have not yet seen a single bee this year. Very scary! We have seen the fake bee flies, and have had a few bumbles but that is it. So I have resorted to paint brush to cross polinate my apple tree with my neighbors. The EU has banned neonicotinoids http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/may/02/us-bee-report-pesticide-eu

    But Britain is hesitating -(awful idiot PM, also wants to introduce GM goods, the sooner we get rid of him the better).

    Lisa, London - I miss the bee's
    PS Did read a very interesting article on how some scientists have said it is also mobile phone transmission to blame but cannot find the article and given today's reliance on mobiles (cells US) this information would be buried in the deepest pit in outer space.

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  5. I saw that report about nonicotinoids, and now can read it> I see the US rejects this report. The flowers are beautiful, meanwhile, fingers are crossed for nature maintaining itself, despite and or because of our interventions. Behave optimistically, and see the doo doo for what it is. and the DoDos too.

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  6. They had blueberry bushes onsale at home depot for 4.00. I have seen bees in my garden, and a few of the little white butterflies. I have some bee balm that makes a beautiful red parrot type flower and as per its name, bees love it. its in the mont family and smells amazing and makes a great tea, let me know if you want some.
    Timshell Rivers

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  7. We got some honey bees in Park Slope while the crocuses were blooming, but I haven't seen any since. It's been all bumblebees, paper wasps, and sweat bees now. Not many butterflies either...

    I took photos - the first honey bee was March 28. http://www.flutterby8th.com/2013/03/28/smorgasbord/

    If you find a good, mature blueberry in Brooklyn please post it! I'm shopping for blueberries for a friend.

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  8. There were no honey bees in the lilacs yesterday at the bbg.

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  9. I may not have my facts correct, but i understand honey bees are an introduced species in North America. It's the presence (or lack) of native pollinators (many that need to complete with honey bees for resources) that we should be concerned about. These issues are complex.

    Regards,
    Jake

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True. Though most of our food crops that they pollinate are introduced, too?

      Delete
  10. Wish my blueberry looked 10% as good as yours. Should have cut it back when you did, but put it off until this spring - when I really hacked it back.

    If it comes back, I'll add another species this fall and hope for improvement next year. Am not seeing bees here either. Am thinking that I might look into putting in a hive in a few years - when I have more time to care for it. Wonder if I need permission from the county ...?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sure it will come back...

      The only disadvantage of spring cutting is that it fruits on the previous year's wood - so you may not get a lot of fruit this year.

      I'd love to have a hive...

      Delete
  11. Yes, I think that you need to start bee tending. Maybe on a far corner of the roof?

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  12. Although honey bee hives and alfalfa leafcutters are brought into commercial blueberry farms, bumble bees are a major native pollinator of blueberry flowers in the wild. Hopefully they'll find your roof and your neighbour's shrub and cross-pollinate 'em. Bumble bees and many other native bees will sample many flowers on a foraging trip; honey bees are "flower-faithful" and look for big densities of the same flower. They're efficiency experts, so your one or two little shrubs are not worth their while to fly to the rooftop, if there are masses of street tree flowers (pears, cherries, tulip poplar, whatever's up there beyond your view) or clover on offer.

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  13. Sending up prayers about Estorbo and your family.

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  14. I have not seen any bees either. I am thinking of buying a small soft paint brush and running over my blueberry flowers. Do you think that would work?

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  15. Had a hive 30 years ago and wish we had kept it. You will need to consider their flight path. They're more likely to be upset if you break it (by walking or running through it). We put a small block of wood (at night) in front of entrance to force their takeoff into a steeper climb. That way we could walk close in front without repercussions. Our bee population is picking up; saw bees in the spiderwort and roses. A few years ago I marked all the posts, pergolas and trellises with a bee image and sent out "come hither " energy. We have many busy tiny Bumble Bees also. Located a ground nest to avoid.

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