Blueberries are often called a super food because they contains lots of good for you antioxidants. Fortunately, you do not have to have super powers to grow them, just a little time and patience – and a good sunny area to plant them in.
Choosing a blueberry plant
It is recommended that you start your foray into blueberry growership by buying a plant, not starting from seed. Before choosing your plant, you will have to educate yourself on the four varieties that are available, and which will grow best in your yard. The four varieties of blueberry plants are:
Rabbit Eye: These are the tallest of the blueberry plants, reaching heights of up to 15 feet. These plants will only grow in the warmer areas of the country, zones 7 to 9.
High Bush: Though this plant has the word high in its name, in actuality it only grows to be between 6 and 12 feet tall. Well, okay, on second thought, that is pretty high. These plants will grow in most areas of the United States, zones 4 to 11.
Low Bush: These short plants get to be only one or two feet tall, making them ideal for gardens and flowerbeds and easier for picking. These plants prefer a colder climate, zones 3 to 6.
Mid High: A mixture of the high and low bush, these plants take on some of the characteristics of both, and their height lies right in between that of their two cousins. They will grow anywhere in the country, even up to chilly zone 3.
Once you’ve decided to cultivate a blueberry crop, you’ll need to find a site in your yard with a lot of room. That’s because, if you hadn’t noticed by what you just read, these bushes can get pretty big. You will want to be able to plant them at least the distance apart that the plants will grow in height, for example, two or more feet apart for low bush.
It is also beneficial to have at least two plants (plants, not varieties) and a good supply of bees so that the plants can pollinate, or you may not end up with any fruit. (Don’t worry about purchasing bees. Mother nature will usually provide some for you.)
Planting your bushes
Plant your blueberry bushes in an area of your yard that gets a good deal of sun, at least for half of the day. You will also need an area of the garden where there is good, nutrient rich soil and good drainage. Make sure, before you situate your bushes, that the soil is fairly acidic if you want your plant to grow well. (There are products available at your local garden center that you can use to test the ph. You need a ph of about 5.) If you hope to have a good deal of blueberry pies in your future, it may behoove you to mix the soil with a couple bags of peat moss.
The actually planting process is pretty straightforward. Gently remove each plant from its pot by tilting the pot to the side and letting the bush gently fall out. If you need to help it along a little, break up the soil by using your hands (it is recommended that you wear gardening gloves to avoid cutting yourself on the branches.)
Then, dig holes that are at least as deep as the root system of the plants, probably between seven and 10 inches deep. Place the plants in the holes and water them.
*You may want to surround the bases of the plants with mulch to prevent weeds from growing underneath them.
Blueberry plants do not require a good deal of fertilizer to thrive, as long as you plant them in good soil to begin with. The fertilization schedule should follow the growth of the blueberries, once when you see the first buds and once when they begin to actually resemble berries. After this, you can fertilize every six weeks if your plants appear to need some TLC. A good fertilizer to use is Miracid, since as mentioned before, the plants due well in fairly acidic soil. Another fertilizer you can use, but which can be a bit more difficult to apply, is sulphates. Never use a nitrate-based fertilizer.
Picking your blueberries
Depending on the type of plant you have, your blueberry plants will begin to produce fruit in the early spring or early summer. It will be very easy to tell when it is time. The blossoms will fall off and blueberries will show up in their place. Be sure that the berries have fully formed before you pick them or they may have a sour taste to them. You should pick the berries about once a week.
Note: Depending on the age of your plant when you put it in the ground, it may not produce berries in the first year or the subsequent year. It has to grow and mature first. Proper pruning (cutting off any branches that start to jut out) can ensure that it will be ready when the time comes.
Blueberry plants are not known to be especially susceptible to insects. However, if you do notice a pest problem on your plants, it is best to ask a professional at your local garden center to recommend the pesticide you should use, which will depend on your plant type and climate. If your garden is in a yard that is frequented by children or pets, a natural solution is probably the way to go.
Besides insects, another pest you may have to deal with in regards to your blueberry plants is birds, who will be very happy to partake in your blueberry crop for lunch. The best way to keep the feathered friends from snacking is to cover your plants with a net, which you can find at your local home improvement store. Be sure to stake the net down if it has a tendency to fly off.
Enjoying the fruits of your labor
Once your blueberries are ripe for eating, sit down and enjoy them. Just remember, that blue color can stain, so have the Tide Pen handy.
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