How To Grow Blueberries
Blueberries originate from North America where they grow wild, and this means they are vigorous, tough, and able to survive the English weather. Blueberry bushes produce significant quantities of berries after only three years and are capable of being productive for thirty years.
Blueberries are very high in anti-oxidants and are relatively low in calories. Health benefits that have been attributed to blueberries include improved memory function, slowing the aging process, and providing some level of protection from stress related illnesses.
Given the relative lack of calories, it is perhaps not surprising that some varieties have a slightly sharp or acid taste. Nevertheless, there are numerous recipes for cooking and sweetening the taste of blueberries in jams, muffins, and even wine.
How To Grow Blueberries – Introduction
Blueberries are self fertile meaning that it is not necessary to have more than one blueberry plant to grow blueberries. However, when growing blueberries it is best to have two plants or more as this will produce a bigger yield through cross pollination. If you have space go for a different variety that crops at a different period in the summer, both to give you a longer harvest but also to maximise the yield.
The most important point to remember when growing blueberries is that they are an acid loving plant. Growing blueberries in pots is an ideal way of accommodating this by filling the pot with ericaceous compost. It is best to use a big pot and ensure the pot has good drainage holes at the bottom – blueberries like a moist well drained soil. Ideally, the pot should be placed in full sun, but they should still grow well in partial shade.
The picture shows the blueberries I grow at home, positioned in a raised flowerbed in a sunny corner of the garden – effectively a big pot!
The three bushes provide a consecutive crop from late June right through to the end of August. It is best to water blueberries with rainwater to help sustain the acid soil environment.
How To Grow Blueberries – Planting
When to plant blueberries? The best time is in their dormant months from late autumn and through winter.
Blueberries make a good plant for the garden or the patio, and not just for their berry production, as they are a pretty plant to have around. In spring they produce beautiful small white flowers, like heather, from which the blueberries will come. Over the summer there is the beauty of the blueberries themselves. The best display of all is in the autumn with the turning of the leaves from their original deep green colour to red and then to gold.
How To Grow Blueberries – Care
Caring for blueberry bushes is straightforward, but as with most types of soft fruit, you are not the only one in your garden looking forward to their ripening!
If you want to avoid feeding the birds then purchasing a net is an essential accessory. I have found in my garden that birds will even try to push the net back to reach the blueberries! This picture was taken when my blueberry bushes were three years old, and that summer they provided a good crop of blueberries. Each year since we’ve enjoyed ever increasing crops and the bushes are nearly twice the size.
It is recommended to avoid pruning blueberry bushes until they are about five years old, and at this stage old unproductive wood can be removed. The best blueberries come from two to three years old wood, so it is best to retain some old as well as new wood in the pruning process.
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