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Blueberries

My problems started because 50 years ago, I didn't know I liked blueberries.

Not all my problems – I can't blame baldness and alternative jazz on blueberries, but I can definitely blame blueberries for the current complications in my life.

If I'm going to be honest, the true cause of my problems is my hatred of depending on other people.

Really. A rational person would be astonished at the number of things I've muddled through single-handedly because it is so very difficult for me to ask someone else for assistance.

In particular, I don't trust big government, big business, or any organization so large that the janitor can't call the CEO by their first name.

There's a chance the average reader might not know where I'm going here but hang in there.

When I was farming, I was producing enough corn, wheat, and soybeans to feed a small city and I figured someone else could produce what I wanted to eat. After I stopped farming, I started doing more to hold up my end of the bargain. It began with chickens, and now we keep our children and grandchildren pretty well egged up. Then I planted a small orchard – apple trees, pear trees, plum brush and hazelnuts. This year I planted a couple peach trees that are supposed to be hardy in Minnesota (the jury is still out on them). There's a lime tree growing in the greenhouse that has four tiny limes. Not enough to keep me in gin and tonics, but a start.

After I fenced in the orchard so we could relocate the chicken barn, I planted raspberries, blackberries, rhubarb, and five kinds of grapes against the fence. Once a year we buy a quarter of beef from a neighbor and a hog from another neighbor. We give our kids meat for Christmas and I'm confident with more practice I'll be able to turn out drinkable fermented beverages in at least three different flavors.

So far, so good, but the entire south side of the orchard fence is totally nonproductive. I thought about another variety of raspberries, but the people who pick raspberries are rebelling. I still have left-over grape juice from last year and there's a limit as to how much rhubarb we need.

I started thinking about blueberries mostly because of feeling guilty. During the winter, the blueberries I eat on my shredded wheat come from 6,200 miles away. I'm not single-handedly destroying the ozone layer, but I'm not helping any. I've tried raising blueberries a couple of times, but our soil is too alkaline. The plants started out puny and ended up dead. But I'm nothing if not stubborn, and I did some actual research about what blueberries need. The simplest solution is to plant them in a pine forest where there's been a few hundred years of pine needles dropping and rotting. Due to my failure to think ahead several decades, that's off the table. Then I remembered about thirty years ago we had a stubbornly unproductive bit of ground that, when tested, showed the PH level was too high, even by our standards. The Co-op mixed in some sulfur with the fertilizer and a year later, bada-bing, bada-boom, all was well.

Due to the wonders of technology, in a week I had a 50-pound bag of sulfur in my garage. I ran a soil test, checked my math twelve times, and applied 37 pounds of sulfur and some two-year old chicken manure. Four or five times over the ground with our Bobcat rototiller and it all looks great. Stop by in three or four years and I'll send you home with a pint of blueberries.

Maybe.

Copyright 2023 Brent Olson

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