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Did Someone Say Blueberries?

Blueberry Bush

When my father-in-law, Marshall Fleming, was around 13 years old, his father (who worked as the head carpenter at Montgomery Ward in Baltimore) brought home a grape vine and a few twigs that he said were blueberry bushes. A few years later when Marshall and his wife built their home about a mile away, they dug up one of those blueberry bushes and the grape vine and planted them in their backyard, where they still are growing today. While we do not know the variety of the blueberry, it produces an abundance of the sweetest little blueberries I have ever tasted.

In the 37 years I have been part of this family, some of our best times have been standing around this bush, picking the berries. Each evening my mother-in-law would bring out her basket and we filled it up. She would share the berries with all of us and freeze enough to last the entire year. She told me the other day that they just finished up the last of them from 2015. Now my daughter and her family live in there and they are enjoying the bounty of berries. Especially our grandson, Aaron, who loves to eat as he picks.

In the past, I have shared that my grandmother, Rose Behnke, used to make us the best blueberry pancakes but my husband insists that his grandmother made the best blueberry Roly Poly.  I have never attempted to make one, but maybe this year I will.  Even the birds get to share in the harvest each season.  So thank you to my father-in-law; or, maybe it was my mother-in-law who suggested he replant these two plants in the back yard. We have enjoyed them and look forward to them each year.

by Stephanie Fleming, Behnke’s Vice President

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. I have two bushes that my husband bought at Behnkes some years ago and it took several years to get a crop. The last two years it has given us very few blueberries. It is still small and not too many branches. Is it sick? What can I do to help and get blueberries? I make blueberries scones weekly for my family but I have to buy them at Costco. Please help.
    Marta Buhay

    1. Hi Marta

      Typically, it doesn’t take years to get a crop! Blueberries should be productive from day one. I would check PH- blueberries need an acid soil, drainage- must be well drained soil, and fertilization- blueberries need a fertilizer with low nitrogen.

      Hope this helps,


  2. Hi Marta

    Although blueberries are self fertile, they do make berries a lot better when there are two bushes and there are two different varieties so that they cross pollinate. And of course, there need to be bees around when they are in flower.

    There are two types of blueberries, highbush (southern) and lowbush (northern). We sell both but mostly highbush. If yours are small, they might be the lowbush type. If you still have any labels or receipt with name of the plants, that would help us alot.

    They will take some shade, but the highbush in particular do best in full sun.

    Hope this helps.

    Larry Hurley

  3. You are so bringing back “the not so good old days” – i.e. 1948 – refugee from Schlesien – in temporary quarters in the Oberpfalz… poor as a church mouse and standing in line for hours to get bread…… we walked and walked (mom, aunt, brother and myself with a pittyful 11 years of “pre-teen) to the nearest woods………..
    a string around the waist with some tin can dangling in front of us – coming thru the forest for Blueberries (Blaubeeren)…Just thinking about it, my back hurts and I still remember when a “Kreuzotter” curled around my aunt’s feet and we all “froze”…………..

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