How to grow blueberries – all year round!
Fruits and vegetables are often restricted to us in what is in season, and we are limited to only be able to buy what they have in stock at the supermarket.
This can be really annoying when your favorite fruit or veg is a ‘seasonal’ one and is only available at certain times of the year.
Blueberries often fall into this category, they are a delicious fruit with some of the best health credentials of all fruits – their antioxidant level is rivaled by few others, but – they are seasonal.
How about if you could grow blueberries all year round, with ease, in your own home. Well, this guide will tell you how.
As Common Sense Home states, the top 7 tips for growing blueberries at home are as follows:
- Bluberries prefer soil pH between 4 and 5.5.
- Soil should be rich in organic matter.
- Plant blueberries in full sun for best production. Plants will tolerate late afternoon shade.
- Blueberries prefer well drained soil.
- Space plants 4-6’ apart for highbush, 2-4’ for low bush with 6-8’ between rows.
- While blueberries are self-pollinating, planting a second variety will increase fruit production.
- Blueberries need around an inch of water per week during the growing season.
They also state that they best time to prepare for your blueberry planting is the fall before the spring you intend to harvest your blueberries.
They thrive in very rich, organic and acidic soil, much like what is naturally found on the forest floor. To achieve this effect in your own garden, peat soil can be used in the area where you plan to grow the blueberries.
The success of your blueberry growing will all be in the quality of the soil you use. To achieve this, a patch of your garden can be dug up, then lined with plastic sheeting and this area should be filled with great quality, organic soil. To test if your soil has the right acidic pH a simple litmus paper test can be done from a sample of the soil, remember it should be between 4 and 5.5 for optimum blueberry growing.
Local nurseries or even neighbours who grow their own blueberries will be able to give advice on how the different types of blueberries grow in your area.
Lowbush Blueberry – Vaccinium anugustifolium – Cold tolerant, less productive than high bush varieties, can be used as an edible ground cover or food forest planting
Northern highbush – Vaccinium corymbosum – For zones 4-7 (specific varieties will tolerate colder temps, such as those I’m growing in zone 3). Grow 5-6’ tall.
Southern highbush – Vaccinium corymbosum hybrids – For zones 7-10. Plants require little chilling, but are otherwise similar to their northern cousins.
Rabbiteye – Vaccinium ashei – Best for southern growers. For zones 7-8. Cold tolerant to around zero F. Can grow up to 20 feet if left unpruned, but best trimmed to manageable picking height.
Saskatoon – Amelanchier alnifolia – Not a true blueberry, but extremely cold tolerant. Can be grown in the northern United States and Southern Canada. Does not require acidic soil. Also known as serviceberry, shadbush and juneberry. Fruit flavor is somewhat bland, seeds are larger than blueberry seeds and have a mild almond flavor.
Your blueberry bush will need to be watered at around an inch of water per week, and the bush should be checked on frequently to check for growth rate and to continue to check that the soil is at peak acidity level.
If you make sure you do these simple things, you should start to see crops in the next summer that will be ready for picking.