In the Garden: Blueberry maintenance

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Believe it or not, summer will be here eventually. And if you want fresh blueberries to put on your ice cream, Charlie Nardozzi tells us we do have a little work to do right now.

Sharon Meyer: Well Charlie, it still feels like winter, but it is April, so there are actually some things that we should be doing outside.

Charlie Nardozzi: Yes, there are, and one of the things is blueberries. And the good thing about blueberries is you don't have to do anything to them for the first four or five years. But eventually, you've got to get in there. In the early years, all you have to prune out are dead, diseased or broken branches. And maybe some that are rubbing against each other. Now that they are a little older, you want to prune out some of the older ones, because they aren't really producing well. But first, you've got to know the age of the canes of your blueberry.

Sharon Meyer: How do you tell that?

Charlie Nardozzi: The young ones are very smooth, they are light colored. Those are a couple of years old. The middle-aged ones are transitioning. You can start to see some gray bark starting to form on them.

Sharon Meyer: And what about this one?

Charlie Nardozzi: And then this guy is the old man. So when you get about six or seven years old, those old ones really don't produce very well, and you can tell the ones that aren't producing because you look for the flower buds and all of these fat buds up here are flower buds. So that means this one is still pretty healthy. But if you find some that only have a few, or maybe none at all, those are not so healthy. So you can see that this one does not have many buds on it compared to the other ones that have a lot of big fat flower buds on them. So we're going to take this old gray one right out, right at the base.

Sharon Meyer: Oh, good bye.

Charlie Nardozzi: And that will stimulate some more growth to come up. You should ideally have about eight to 10 canes here of different ages at any one time. But every year or so, you might have to take an old one out and then clean it up so it's not as crowded inside.