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Re: [nafex] Re: good stuff perhaps blueberry associates

In a message dated 01/09/01 2:37:23 PM, bamboogrove@cmug.com writes:

<< As a new tangent- has anyone had any luck finding compatible and

useful/edible understory/groundcover plants for blueberries? Besides

quackgrass, I mean. ;) Plants that help keep weeds out, like the same

conditions as the blues', and add a yield to the mix?

-Rick >>

Rick:  Apios americana is a spontaneous associate of blueberries in New 
England (USA) where I come from originally.  If you don't mind a few 
prickles, smilax is another viney associate with a good food potential.  If 
kept well harvested, the smilax should be ok, assuming a good species is 
chosen.  Instead of taking the spring shoots, one could wait and cut the 
vines back a 3  or 4 weeks before the blueberries ripen.  Domestic rabits eat 
the vines, prickles and all, so they don't need to be wasted.  The shoot 
harvest can preceed the blueberry harvest.  it doesn't matter when you take 
the shoots, just leave enough growing season for the tubers to recover.  
Apios uses blueberry for a scaffold.  Stephen Breyer of Tripple Brook 
Nurseries in Easthampton massachusetts told me that they didn't seem to 
affect much his Aunt's blueberries, though she hated them because she had not 
invited them to grow there.  :-)  As I said in an earlier post, pigs are a 
pretty good companion crop.  Down where I live now, Florida betony does fine 
between blueberry plants, as does the maypop, Passiflora incarnata, with 
edible leaves as well as fruit, I am told.  (It is supposed to be the only 
Passiflora with edible leaves, cooked of coruse, though I'd be careful.  
There is no reason not to run poultry among the bushes, too, as another 
animal crop, of course moving them to a different pasture before the fruit 
ripens.  This might even reduce insect damage.  They only get the low fruit 
that are troublesome to pick, anyway.  I've not done this with blueberries, 
but with black raspberries.  No bending.  The only fruit remaining is at easy 
pickigh height.  Hey, your chickens have to eat something!  In plantations, 
there are a gazillion common crops one could plant between rows, depending on 
circumstances.  The only requirement is that you can walk on some of the 
plants during blueberry harvest and that they don't overly shade the berries. 
 Early potatoes in mulch come to mind.

Dan Hemenway
Barking Frogs Permaculture Center  
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