How to Grow your own Blueberries.
If you are wondering what the best fruit to plant at this time of the year (Autumn) is, blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum) will be second to none. Not only do they look good on anyone's garden because of their glorious autumn colours, a long list of health benefits can also be gained by eating them.
Blueberries are one of the most nutritious fruits you can have. It has earned the reputation and is also known to be as a "super fruit". This is because of its very high antitoxin content plus large quantities of Vitamin C which could boost the immune system. They can be perfect for healthy snacks, can be made into preserves and pies, and ideal for canning and freezing for winter. Besides this, the blueberry is also such an attractive plant that it merits a position in the shrub border or within a pot that can be placed on a patio to add allure to anyone's garden.
PLANT, PROTECT, HARVEST, AND STORE
Blueberries require minimal efforts to be looked after. Growing them is very easy, provided that you critically take into consideration the location and the kind of soil you'd plant them into. Blueberries are very meticulous about soil. They prefer a light-free draining acidic soil with plenty of rich organic matter. The soil where blueberries should be planted must have a pH level of 4 to 5.5. This is extremely important for they will not grow on soil with an insufficient acid level.
If it shows on your soil test results that the soil in which your garden is on is alkaline in nature, it is most advisable, also a common practice, that you plant the blueberry in a container. You can improve the soil's quality simply by removing weeds, rocks and incorporate organic soil improvers such as bracken, pine needles, composted bark or sawdust and leaf moulds. Mushroom compost or manure are also good soil improvers but are not to be considered as options for planting blueberries for it will make the soil too alkaline.
Blueberries can grow up to 2 metres tall and almost as wide. However, there are also a variety of smaller ones which mean that anyone can try these tasty berries even for those whose gardens are not that big.
The first specimens of blueberries came from the state of New Jersey in US that were then taken to North America for cultivation. Whilst majority of UK plots have a soil acidity of above 6.0 which makes planting of blueberries impossible, most garden owners prefer to plant them in reasonable-sized containers with ericaceous compost. Also, though the English weather throughout the year is mostly moist or rainy, blueberry plants still have the ability to bear fruit in abundance in a partially-shaded location.
Blueberry plants, particularly those that are container grown, can be damaged if exposed to combinations of low temperatures and wet conditions, making it vulnerable during winter. It is strongly advisable to move them indoors in a shed or garage during prolonged winter days or, putting a wrap around the pot in hessian or bubble wrap to protect the roots can also be an alternative.
As with any other fruit or vegetable plants, tap water is perfectly fine to be used for watering your blueberry plant. However, it is more preferable that you use collected rainwater for best results. Not unless rain very seldom comes on your location. In the case that you decide to plant your blueberry in a container, making sure that the soil does not lose its moisture will be quite important. To keep the soil's acidity at a required level, incorporating organic matters such as leaf moulds, freshly-chipped pine bark, composted pine needles or sawdust will also be advisable. (Manure and mushroom compost which are commonly used are not included as options for they tend to make the soil more alkaline).
As stated above, a blueberry plant only requires nominal care which goes for almost three years of its life. Of course, it is just normal to advise to make sure to cut away the branches that would trail on the ground over time. This includes unproductive dried-out stems which could become a temptation for pests. Unlike other fruit plants, blueberries are seldom pests infected, however, your mortal rival will be the birds for blueberries are one of their favourites. This means making sure that your plants are secured either with anti-bird netting or probably with established fruit cages becomes a necessity especially before or up until early June for this is the time when its fruits begins to ripen.
Berries can be consumed fresh or you can store them in the fridge for up to a week. They are also one of the easiest fruits to freeze. All you have to do is wash and dry them thoroughly then put them in a plastic container with a lid or a plastic bag and pop them in the freezer. You can then enjoy the healthful benefits of blueberries, in which they are famous and recognised for, all winter long!
Article by Ellis Wakefield
12th October 2015