I am proud to say that a little more than two months ago, I decided to follow a dream. A dream that I’ve had for a long time. A dream to grow blueberries in the warm, pleasant, and good-for-almost-everything-except-blueberries weather of Silicon Valley.
Not all dreams become a reality. But check out this photo, from yesterday:
Gorgeous, right? That’s the first bunch of blueberries off one of my eight (8), count them, eight blueberry bushes in my front yard. They were about 10 in this group, all large, all sweet, all as good as any I’ve had.
Now check this out:
And that’s just one bush! Fantastic for a first year harvest.
Now some details for those of you out there who share the dream of growing blueberries in the Bay Area, but always thought that they were a cold weather, Maine/Alaska sort of thing.
First, I didn’t get special hybrids from Master Gardners (although they have some excellent research on growing blueberries in California). I actually got all of my plants in one and five gallon containers at the local SummerWinds nursery in Cupertino. All of my plants were from Monrovia, which has a great website describing all of their blueberry varieties, and which zones they grow in. There are now hybrids for almost every zone in the US. I chose to plant two varieties:
- Misty (Vaccinum x Misty): Sky-blue, medium large, very sweet fruit matures early season from midsummer through fall. Pink and white bell-shaped flowers bloom in late spring followed by fruit crop. Very low chill requirement of 300 hours to set a good crop of fruit. An attractive shrub with blue-green foliage for beds or the fruit garden. Remains evergreen in mild winters or turns brilliant red before shedding leaves in cold climates. Semi-deciduous shrub. Full sun. Vigorous growth 5 to 6 feet tall and wide.
- Sunshine Blue (Vaccinum x Sunshine Blue): Hot pink bell shaped flowers are decorative before fading to white. Blooms in late spring. Yields an abundant crop of large tangy fruit with as few as 150 hours of chill. Self pollinating, but produces best when planted with another variety. Dwarf stature is far more suited to ornamental gardens and small space landcapes than other varieties. Semi-evergreen shrub. Full sun. Moderate growth 3 to 4 feet tall and wide
It’s amazing how well they have taken. I planted them in an open stretch next to my driveway, where there previously were ornamental bushes. I added some additional flowers and bulbs (200+) for color. The flowers are extremely pleasant and fragrant, and it’s nice to have both white and pink flowering varieties. Here is a shot of the complete row on March 29th, a couple weeks after planting.
This is what a single bush looked like, flowering, on March 29th:
Here is an updated shot, from Sunday (May 18th):
You can see the bulbs have sprouted, and the flowers on the bushes have now been replaced with hundreds of green blueberries. They should be fully ripe in late June, early July at this rate.
I was a little paranoid about watering, and ended up putting in a new trench and line for daily watering. Simple drip heads (4) with spray for 20 minutes a day in the morning.
If you’ve read this far, chances are you think that replacing useless ornamental shrubs and bushes with gorgeous, fruiting blueberry bushes is a dream come true. Well, you too can live the dream. I’m happy to announce that growing blueberries in Sunnyvale is definitely a reality.