We all love blueberries around here, so two or three years ago I brought home a couple blueberry plants from the feed store, and planted them out near the pond in the Tarzan Tree field. We wrapped plastic netting around them, and left them to their own devices. They never did much, returning our almost-complete lack of attention with their almost-complete lack of fruit, the ultimate tit-for-tat.
Growing no less fond of blueberries as time went by, this year I doubled down tenfold. When the blueberry man posted his Facebook ad I answered it, and a couple weeks later ten nice blueberry bushes appeared in our driveway. I was going big.
Resident Gardener rolled her eyes a little bit at my folly, but she took half of them out to the Tarzan Tree field and planted them anyway. She had been giving my poor neglected blueberries some love, and a bit of pruning, and this year they actually had some flowers! When the five new ones went in, it seemed we had achieved an actual blueberry patch!
Fast forward a few weeks, and I’m looking for a new project since I now had the raspberry patch sorted. So when RG mentioned the bunnies had been getting at my new blueberry bushes, I went to check it out. Little buggers! Our jury-rigged plastic fence enclosure obviously wasn’t up to the job. The five plants she had set out were now half the size of the five she had transplanted into bigger pots and arranged beside the house until the fall rains came, when we would add them to the patch.
Well, here was my new project. I couldn’t have asked for a more clear wake-up call. I had a blueberry patch now, dammit. I wasn’t going to let those dang bunnies take out my blueberry patch!
Over the next few weeks, in spare minutes here and there, usually at the ends of long days, I would wander out to the blueberry patch and do a bit of work. I scavenged materials from all over the farm, a part-roll of chicken wire left over from coop construction, some rusty but solid t-posts donated by a generous neighbour, some slender eight-foot bamboo poles harvested last fall from our prized clump of black bamboo, and of course the yards and yards of six-foot plastic deer fencing that had enclosed the blueberries, useless against the bunnies but perfectly suited to stringing from bamboo poles to keep the deer out. I even had all the zip ties I needed. My only purchase was the white plastic t-post fence caps, to prevent clumsy horses impaling themselves.
Having researched effective bunny fences online, I started my install. Pounding in the posts to form a nice big enclosure was the easiest bit. Rolling out 70 feet of 4-foot chicken wire so I could fold up a border a foot wide all along, then rolling it up again and man-handling it over to where I had installed the t-posts, so I could unroll and fasten it along the fence line, was the trickiest bit.
Uninstalling and untangling, then reinstalling the plastic deer fencing RG had jury-rigged was the most time-consuming bit. Building the gate was the hardest bit, luckily Dear Husband came along just as I had finished the basic frame, pointed out it’s shortcomings, and pitched in to help correct it. A good teacher as always, DH more facilitated my build than took it over.
One of our big city pandemic refugees, a young man currently furloughed from Vancouver’s film industry, went after the weeds with a vengeance. He had almost the whole patch beautifully weeded in one afternoon. RG mulched along behind him, as I continued work on my fence.
On Mother’s Day we finished our magnificent blueberry fortress. Almost. We will sheet mulch the grassy areas so they will be broken down and ready for the other five bushes in October. We may need to add some featherlight netting to cover the top before the berries ripen, to save them from the birds. RG thinks not. Her theory is that there are so many wild berries in our valley that ripen in August at the same time as blueberries, we may be ok. Time will tell. One thing for sure, those darned bunnies are going to have to go elsewhere for their blueberry fix now. Unless the little buggers can chew through chicken wire.