This is a big yard and we’re always finding empty nooks and corners. Finding the best uses for the empty or underutilized spots in the established parts of the yard is interesting work; each spot is a long-term experiment.
One of the larger empty spots is in the back, just off the north edge of the patio. There was an untrimmed and unhealthy azalea in the middle of a large mulched area, about 10’x12′. After trimming the azalea back and digging around, I realized that there was 2 layers of thick landscaping felt under the mulch. The landscaping felt has been there a very long time, the roots of the azaleas were growing through it searching for nutrients. Since the mulch wasn’t in contact with the soil, the mulch wasn’t decomposing and releasing nutrients back to the plants, and no one had fertilized back there in a long time. So we pulled back the landscape fabric, raked the mulch back, and let everything rest for a few months. With the azaleas all around I thought the space would work well for rabbiteye blueberries.
About a month ago I planted a few small and scraggly “Brightwell” rabbiteye blueberry bushes I got for a really good price from the Edible Plant Project. One succumbed almost immediately from some leaf-spot disease, leaving an empty hole and three unhappy-looking blueberry bushes. I bought two much larger and more robust “Alice” blueberry bushes at the farmer’s market a few weeks ago and decided to try a one-time application of chemical fertilizer to give all the blueberries a good boost before the first freeze. My husband went to the garden center for fertilizer and they sold him a sulphur acidifier for azaleas and blueberries instead. I almost sent him back- I detest being “sold” on something I didn’t want- but decided to give the garden center employee the benefit of the doubt. I spread the acidifier and watered it in well. I gave each plant a good shovelful of compost, put down some thick shipping paper for weed suppression, and I’ll be mulching deeply with pine straw as soon as I can get to the park with a rake and some bags.