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The Resilience Hub & Portland Maine Permaculture Message Board › Blueberry companion plants?

Blueberry companion plants?

wayne b.
Mainewayne
York, ME
Post #: 5
Looking for some advice from experienced gardeners/permies.

Has anyone had any luck with a compatible understory planting to go with highbush blueberries? I have a persistent weed of some kind that is not too hard to pull but is quick-growing and impossible to eradicate. Of course, because of the blueberry's shallow roots, vigorous cultivation is out of the question. I use as much pine needles, wood chips and other mulch as I can find, but it doesn't seem to be enough. A companion plant that competes with the weeds but not with the blueberries would be nice; something edible or useful as chicken fodder would be even nicer.

In searching online, I have found suggestions such as comfrey, lupine, lettuce, onion, spinach, creeping phlox, lily of the valley, and even cranberries. Anyone actually tried anything that seems to work? Thanks in advance.


David S.
stereoview
Washington, ME
Post #: 647
It wouldn't hurt to know what that weed is. Any chance it is sheep sorrel? If so, eat it. I get that around my hb blueberries. Mine are dressed with chips. The bushes and mostly thick enough to create some shade underneath. I do weed sometimes and some have plenty of weeds but mine are from the wild and grew with weeds all around anyway so I figure it's not much to get worried about. Mine still fruit very well regardless. I like regardless.

Cranberries might work or just be another weed problem since they are extremely aggressive/invasive if given a good place and difficult to eradicate. They are composed of runners with shallow small roots. They certainly do run too. I got mine from my neighbor who had had enough of it and decided to get rid of it. Julia Yelton had planted it there to create a permaculture garden (that was a complete failure). The roots are tiny and can grow on top of or right through weed barrier material. They can set roots in the leaves they shed in the previous year(s). They do best with plenty of sun though. They don't require inputs and survive in acid soil best. I have tried shady locations and they don't move real fast.

I'm thinking that it would be more of a competitor than a companion. You would not want to plant anything that requires fertilizing or neutral soil. You can get into trouble with too much nitrogen or ph above 5.3. Not much for inputs is required and too much nutrition results in strong vegetative growth that is often followed by die back the next year.

I'm not sure how lupines would help. They can be most difficult to transplant successfully and yet seed themselves and grow in a way that is a major pain in the butt. I thought I wanted them and now I am weeding them. They have no food value. Poison. I let a few grow because they are pretty. I do consider them to be a mistake. I would be thinking of something with food value that requires no inputs.

Anyway, I would be thinking more chips. If you want something that is truly a companion, you might think of fungi. Wine caps like chips and sometimes at landscape/greenhouse supply places their chips already have them. Ask Mary Anderson. That's how she got them in her garden. I know a place in Waldoboro where I will get chips next year. In Poland they grow wine caps in between the corn rows and the corn grows better.

David Spahr
wayne b.
Mainewayne
York, ME
Post #: 6
Thanks, David, for the info.

And yes, after looking it up, I recognize that it is sheep sorrel. I'll try adding some to a salad this summer and maybe just spend less time trying to pull it.

The mushroom suggestion is a great idea. I have been planning anyway to try a mushroom kit and maybe some plugs this year. I'll look into the wine caps.

Cheers,
~Wayne
David S.
stereoview
Washington, ME
Post #: 655
Sheep sorrel is good. It has a tangy lemony flavor that livens up a salad. I don't eat too much of it because I can get joint pain from taking in too much oxalic acid. Wood sorrel can be used the same way and most certainly is in your yard as well. Sorrels, dock, spinach and other veggies contain oxalic acid. It doesn't bother most people at all.

Actually, I don't understand why sheep sorrel isn't a legit vegetable in the store and at farm markets. Same goes for cattails and Sedum purpureum. You don't want sheep sorrel in your garden though. It takes over everything. Hmmm... a vegetable you have to beat back rather than nurse. My kind of veg.

David
A former member
Post #: 582
French sorrel is a wonderful garden plant. Just a few plants will supply tender greens all summer. Or you can make French Sorrel Soup. I started mine from seed years ago. The only problem I have with them is slugs - they seem to just love it, perhaps because it is so tender.
wayne b.
Mainewayne
York, ME
Post #: 22
Just reviving this thread for an update. The sheep sorrel continues under my blueberry plants, but since I started raising a few chickens again, I found that the hens absolutely love it. I throw them a handful of it whenever I get a chance. Now I have to look a little harder for nice clumps of it and am a bit disappointed if it doesn't grow back quickly enough. . . . And the the blueberry plants keep chugging along just fine.

Once again, the problem becomes the solution. (Now if I can just find someone who'll eat the creeping charlie.)

Cheers
Jesse S.
user 29709632
Harrison, ME
Post #: 98
One native nitrogen fixer that I think makes a good companion for blueberries would be Comptonia or sweet fern. Does well in very nutrient deficient and acidic soil, root divides and transplants well enough during dormancy. Also has medicinal value while improving soil fertility. Smells great too.
David S.
stereoview
Washington, ME
Post #: 971
My experience has been that sweet fern is hard to transplant. Maybe you could consider more chips and grow wine cap mushrooms. All evidence seems to indicate that plants grow better in the presence of wine caps. I grow them in my yard and they are very easy. Easier than shiitake for sure.

David Spahr
Lisa F.
lisa.f.organizer
Group Organizer
Portland, ME
Post #: 2,345
Creeping Charlie (aka ground ivy, aka a bunch of other names:) is a nice bittering agent to mix with other herbs to promote digestion. Some people have used it in lieu of hops for beer brewing.
Hannah F.
user 13612842
Portland, ME
Post #: 4
I will also add that our turkeys LOVE creeping charlie. Maybe your chickens would too?
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