Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The hunt for blueberries

We love blueberries.

One of my favorite things to do in our old garden was head out and harvest the ripe fruit. But here in our new home, we have nothing yet by way of food plants (except the garlic I planted in January), so we're starting over at the beginning in terms of making our place food self-sufficient. That includes planting blueberries.

Since blueberries take a long time to mature – but they produce fruit for decades – they are one of the first things we wanted to get in the ground.

Now keep this in mind for a moment and turn your attention to a post put up on Daisy Luther's website some time ago entitled "The 'Camping Trip' Is Ending and the REAL SHTF Is About to Start."

The piece was interesting enough, but in reading the resulting comments, one in particular caught my eye from someone named James:

"Suppliers are in serious trouble. It isn’t making the news. I got off the phone with a supplier three days ago and I almost puked. If you are holding off buying any prepper items...DON’T. Order now and express ship. The time of selection is ending. The doors are closing. You are in serious danger. Get off the computer (unless you are ordering) and do something in the real world. Train, inventory, exercise, plan, pray."

Oookay. I don't know what James (or his supplier) knows, but this sounded dire. Understand, we're in a vulnerable position right now. We have our house, yes; but we have no garden, no chickens, no cattle, nothing along those lines. We're pretty much in the same boat as everyone else, frantically trying to lurch toward a self-sufficient lifestyle as swiftly as possible.

So while I'm not willing to take this anonymous poster's words as gospel, it does contribute to the sense of urgency we feel about getting our new homestead up and operational.

Therefore...blueberries. I began the search in late March. One local nursery said they weren't sure about availability since their suppliers were being cagey. Another (more distant) nursery said they were taking a trip to Oregon to pick up something like 500 blueberry plants, which they said would be available in their store by early May. When I asked if I could reserve 30 plants, the clerk said no – there was a limit of six plants, no exception.

So I turned to online sources. Unsurprisingly, lots and lots of places were sold out:

Other places had plants available, but for exorbitant prices.

Finally I clicked on the website for Burnt Ridge Nursery in Washington State. I had ordered from them before and was pleased by their service, and they seemed to have blueberries in stock. Rather than ordering online, however, I called and talked to a very helpful fellow. He had in stock one of the varieties I was looking for, but not the other. We went through some possible substitutions, but nothing was available there either.

So I went ahead and ordered 15 Chandlers from Burnt Ridge (which they said should be delivered in early May), and continued searching for another variety (for cross-pollination purposes) for a price we could afford.

I found seven plants (Toro and Patriot) at a transient nursery in a nearby city.

And when the local nursery (where I was limited to six plants) got their stock in, Don and I headed over and picked them up, three each of Toro and Patriot.

As of mid-April, this was my blueberry collection of 15 plants – about half Toro and half Patriots.

This past Monday (May 10), I received my order of Chandler blueberries from Burnt Ridge Nursery.

The last time we'd ordered blueberries from them (back in 2015), they were shipped bare root. So imagine our pleasant surprise to open the boxes and find them all potted!

The packing was meticulous. The pots were braced by bamboo poles so nothing would shift in transit. The plants were blooming, and they arrived in amazing condition.

Each pot was individually wrapped, and under the wrapping there was a blot of wet newspaper. Nice.

Here are some of the blossoms.

I was deeply impressed with the service from Burnt Ridge Nursery. Definitely a place to look for future orders.

So here's my blueberry collection of 30 plants: 15 Chandlers, 8 Toro, and 7 Patriot.

Our next step is to get them in the ground, and we're working on the deer-proof infrastructure to make sure our baby plants don't get chomped down within 24 hours. Stand by for a future blog post on that subject.

Meanwhile, if you're holding back on increasing your preps, re-read James' words above and ponder whether or not he might be right.


  1. Just before reading your blog post, I ordered two 100ft hoses. Earlier in the month, my garden gloves failed me and I had to go to two stores to get the type I wanted. I bought four pairs. And I live in an apartment and garden on a 'small' scale.
    SJ in Vancouver BC Canada

  2. I went to the local farmer's supply store today, and talked to the owner about shortages. She complained that she is having a hard time getting her merchandise in, and that some horse owners, in particular, are not very understanding when she can't get the particular feed they are use to getting. Ordering is hit or miss, she never knows what she will or won't be able to get in.

  3. Thank you Patrice - both for the recommendation and sharing the blueberries. I was commenting just the other day to a friend how lousy the selection of fruit trees was this year.

  4. We've had blueberries for years in different locations. Our soil in SW Idaho is very alkaline so it takes a few years to get the soil right. Last year (4th year) was great. Looking forward to a bumper crop this year. Best of luck with your beautiful plants.

    1. S.Lynn, you're so right. Here in South East Idaho I don't even attempt blueberries. Raspberries rock in alkaline soil though.

  5. We had quite a time getting our blueberries ordered, and we ordered in February. Of the replacement apple trees we ordered for a few that had died, we did not receive two. We need to add peat moss to our soil here, and peat moss was extremely hard to find.

    I agree with James. Everyone, get your homestead situated as soon as possible. I started the priorities list last year. One of the the future/would love items was fuel tanks so we are not just taking cans to the gas station every time we use the tractors. Maybe Fuel Tanks should have been one of the items to get ordered and filled early this spring.

    I am so thankful for my canning jar stash and reuseable lids that I have had for several years. I see the canning supplies situation as just a microcosm of the supply lines/situation now and going forward.

  6. Funny how these dire warnings by right wing nutcases never pan out to anything.

    1. Funny how when the pandemic started I had masks and hand sanitizer and toilet paper put away previously and things did pan out.

    2. Things did pan out to what? Hysteria? Needing to "train, inventory" etc? Danger? No, of course not. No one is saying it's a bad idea to have extra toilet paper or sanitizer around. The idea that the world is about to end????? any minute???!!!! is such baloney. I've been hearing it from my rightwing nutcase friends for 30 years now. One actually quit his job so he could fully prepare for Y2K. Step off the computer and stop being paranoid and crazy.

    3. Hello Krauter, and I understand your hesitation to adopt a preventive stance. If you were raised on a ranch, you would have learned that nobody is going to keep you out of trouble, except yourself. Most folks are not gloom and doom, they are simply wanting to be self know... taking care of themselves, instead of relying on someone else to save them. Just sayin!

  7. My brother works for a large restaurant supply company. He told me that they are having an increasing problem getting chicken; I told him that I am having an increasing problem getting grain.

    Sudden cold rains have killed a lot of the chicks and ducklings that have hatched from the free-range poultry this spring (and I'm in Florida). It is 10:30 a.m., there is a cold rain, and the temperature is 57 degrees (which is lower than a lot of the wintertime daily temps).

    Big deal, you have a cold day in Florida, deal with it, you may say. It isn't so much that we had a cold day, it is that the planting/agricultural areas north of us are having WORSE weather. This cold snap will recede to the north by tomorrow, but what effect will it have on the crops north of us? For me, the effect will be more chick and duckling deaths. Corn prices in my supply chain have risen 28% in the past month and will go up again on the shipment that arrives today. Yes, you will be seeing those price changes in everything from cornflakes to poultry products.

    Brother is maximizing his backyard garden in a city in the midwest and is talking about adding a rabbitry.

    I can affirm that food suppliers are having supply-chain problems. I can affirm that industrial suppliers are having supply-chain problems. It isn't just giant companies. A friend of mine that started a small specialty clothing manufacturing company is having supply problems.

    Rural Revolution can only give information about how interested individuals can better their resiliency. They can't do a thing about ignorant people that can't even see the problem.

  8. The dire warning was correct, if a bit early. Its going to happen a bit slower than many think, but faster than others. It's going to get very ugly soon enough though. I would suggest thinking that it will be sooner rather than later, and getting what you think you'll need. Prices in Dollars are slated to go way up, quality and availability down, across the board. Some of us have been warning of it for a long time, but few listen, thinking us to be tin foil hat wearing nut jobs. I've almost given up warning peeps, preferring instead to pop some corn, pour a soda, point and laugh as it happens. I'm not allowed to do that though as a watchman on the wall. Things have been frozen for a bit while the Lord does something, but not forever. You're almost out of time.

    You've been warned by those who know what's coming, know what's going on behind the scenes, and many choose to disbelieve. "Fairly warned says I".

  9. Oh, sorry, congrats on your blueberries (sorry about the above rant). My brother has been expanding the blueberries on our place in Georgia; however, he makes blueberry wine with his half of the berries! It is delicious; a lot of my berries may go into the wine (for medicinal purposes).

  10. Ooops, I was unclear. One brother in the restaurant supply business is in the midwest; the other brother that has the blueberries is in Georgia.

  11. I know things are tight right now. We have run in to seed problems many being out of stock. We are trying to get elderberry trees but could only get one we need 2 for pollination but no stock again. On the bright side we just got our new 930 American pressure canner. Only took 6 months to get. Ordered it in September.

  12. I was at WINCO the other day and saw a man buying canning lids, (just the lids in boxes) I mentioned it to the clerk and she said that finally they were getting the lids in. Another item I can't seem to get a hold of is another lemon tree, yes it has to be indoors most of the year in Northern Idaho but they do produce inside. I was told they all sell as soon as they get in. Another item not related to preps, we went out today to get my husband a new recliner, the store we were in had a totally empty room that normally holds sofas and love seats, all cleaned out, I was told because everybody is moving to CDA and were in need of new furniture. So preps or no preps, everything is getting in short supply. Get m while you can.

  13. Please post specifics when you plant your blueberries, Patrice. I am going to try again (wrong soil, wrong water, iffy weather..)

    Thank you!!

  14. Here in Alabama they are at every flea market, not pricey, only 4 to 8$, for a big pot, the ones I saw at the local flea market had huge blueberrys on them, mine beared fruit when I planted them they are big now and for the last few years I have been overwhelmed by them, everyone wants some , but they want you to pick them for them, no way... I freeze a lot , make jam, last year I cleaned my freezer out of them by selling them to a local winery... made good money, Not as many this summer, need to prune good.. this fall... my son says I need to plant about 4-7 more, but it's all I can do to keep up picking the ones I have, but thinking about it... always sell to winery.