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I planted three blueberry plants in my perennial garden this May. Who doesn’t love fresh blueberries? Or blueberry jam, or blueberries on ice cream. Yum.

But they were struggling.

The area where I planted them had been long neglected, so even the fish meal fertilizer and the horse manure compost and the bark mulch could only do so much for it right away. I also didn’t know until after I got them that they needed acidic soil, so I’ve been adding coffee grounds every few weeks. However, we also have had one of the hottest, detest seasons on record in the Pacific Northwest. Our usually mild and rainy conditions were much less mild and rainy than we’re used to. Anything bred for our normal climate or requiring plenty of water has struggled to thrive this year.

One plant was struggling from the time I got it, and the unseasonably hot weather and the mediocre soil were not doing any of them favors. Even the ones that had been healthy started getting some fried leaves and red coloring. A grades book that I was coincidentally reading talked about red leaves being a sign of phosphorus deficiency in vegetables, so I thought the same might hold true for blueberries.

I went and got some fish bone meal, which is very high in the lacking nutrient. I pulled back the mulch, dug the meal in around the plants, and covered it up again. I upped watering too, but I was struggling to meet their needs still.

Then last week, we got an inch of rain in a day for the first time in over 150 days. The bushes drank up water and, with it, nutrients. Today, six days later, I finally saw real progress in the condition of the blueberry bushes.

The smallest was not nearly so red. The difference in some of the leaves is huge.

The middle bush has put out some bright green leaves that have no discoloration or burning. Not pictured is what looks like some new shoots at the base.

 The last one has shown the least progress, except for some beautiful green emerging at the base of some of the smaller shoots.
I have a lot of hope for these next year. I plan on helping the soil in the perennial garden out with compost and mulch over the winter, and another layer of both in the spring. Hopefully the sandy, neglected soil will be ridiculously healthy in a few years’ time.