In the depths of winter--when everything is brown and drab--it's time to consider the summer and prune the berries. We prune now when the bushes are dormant, not in any active stages of active growth or flowering/fruiting. You don't want to disrupt those processes, nor do you want to stress the bushes in periods of hot weather. It's also easier to simply see what you're doing in the winter, when the canes (aka branches) are bare.
Our blueberry patch was installed on the farm in the 60's, and over the past two years we've been attacking it in phases. Phase one was simply clearing back invasive vines, trees, etc. seen here (anything green--they were quite infested):
Phase two looked like clearing out old, diseased canes indicated by a white fungus--which is what Corwin (our first unofficial WWOOFer in 2010) is doing in this picture, never mind his back side. The diseased canes are in the pile in the front of the photo. Note: the laying hens also spent the winter in the blueberry patch doing a bit of weeding and a lot of fertilizing in addition to our efforts.
And this year, phase three looks like simply opening up the bushes to sunlight and air, ultimately making sweeter berries. Specifically this looks like "pruning away water sprouts, dense but spindly growth and low branches that graze the soil or do not grow in an upright position." Below is a photo of the bushes before phase three:
And after phase three:
You can almost hear the bushes sighing with relief. Now all we have to do is sit back and wait for the flowers to bloom, the bees to do their sacred business, and the berries to come in June.
1 year ago