Blueberries at Trout Brook Valley's Orchard
A few Saturdays ago, we had the opportunity to prune the blueberry bushes in the blueberry orchard in Trout Brook Valley. There are four days every spring during which volunteers are asked to bring gloves, pruning shears and loppers to help trim the many, many blueberry bushes in the orchard. We’ve done this for several years now, and I think this is an amazing opportunity for our son, Avery, to help in the preserve and to see what the orchard looks like without all the leaves, as well as to learn that cutting plant back – even aggressively – is good for it to be healthy in the long term.
We had a great teacher to show us how to appropriately prune the plants to ensure a good harvest this year and in the future. Blueberries don’t grow on new growth, but they also won’t be productive for many years on old growth, so it’s essential to keep a mix of new and old growth. We were advised to cut back 1/3 of the old growth branches. Also, it’s hard to tell at this point – as well as remember from last summer –but these bushes grow a lot of leaves, so we cut back a lot of branches that were growing in the middle in order to open up the insides for sun. We were also advised to cut any branches that are rubbing together as that introduces infection and cut away any dead branches. All this cutting results in some pretty sparse looking bushes, but we won’t be able to tell that in high summer when we’re picking blueberries.
Avery is 6, and isn’t really ready to handle the loppers, but we gave him pruning shears and coached him quite closely. He loved it … for about 10 minutes. Then he wanted to go play on the giant mulch pile. This turned out to be more fun for him and freed us up to prune much, much faster. Last year he only made it about 5 minutes, so this is progress. Next year, maybe we’ll make it to 20.
The payoff? One wonderful day in the summer when you get to drive into the orchard and pick 3 quarts. But don’t worry, we’ll be hiking in other days to pick our 2 quarts, and we’ll have a great time doing that also.
For maps, directions and more information about the Trout Brook Valley in Easton, click here.