Learn How to Grow and Care for Blueberry Plants
When growing blueberries, the first thing to consider is soil type. Blueberries are fussy about soil and require acidic ground. In addition to acidic soil preference, blueberries should be planted in ground that is high in organic matter and that is also well drained. The PH level that’s recommended is between four and five.
Blueberry bushes should be planted in the spring – mature ones do best (about two-three years old). When planting a blueberry bush, dig a hole about 20 inches deep and 18 inches wide for good depth. If you are planting multiple bushes in the same area, ensure that you are spacing bushes about five feet apart. Fertilizer is not needed at the time of planting, but it is recommended about one month after planting.
How to Grow Blueberries
There are a number of things to consider when growing and taking care of blueberries. Blueberry roots are typically shallow, which means that applying mulch to keep the roots moist is important. This should be done after planting; about two inches of woodchips is recommended. In addition to mulch, if possible, watering the bushes about two inches a week is ideal.
When it comes to pruning, you don’t have to prune blueberry bushes for the first four years after planting. Pruning is needed after year five in order to stimulate growth of new shoots to bear fruit. Pruning should be done either in late fall or late winter, before spring.
If you are serious about getting into the blueberry business, it is highly recommended to grow more than one variety, which can extend your harvest season. The three main varieties include – Highbush, Lowbush and Half-High. Highbush variety is best for adapting to cold winters. Lowbush can be grown in the coldest climates and its berries are good for canning or baking. Half-High is a combination of Highbush and Lowbush; it bears blueberries best suited for the fresh market.
Harvesting or picking blueberries is done in late July to mid-August. Blueberries develop their full flavour several days after they turn blue – so be sure to wait before you pick. Once the berries are ready, they last about six weeks. While the season may be short, blueberries are one of the easiest fruits to freeze. Storing your blueberries in a plastic bag tucked away in the freezer can ensure that you’ll have berries through the winter. To protect your harvest from getting eaten by pests like birds, it is a good idea to “bird proof” your blueberry bushes with netting. While birds aren’t the only pest that can reduce your berry harvest, they are the easiest to control.
Blueberries can be grown for profit in a farming business or for personal pleasure. While they do require maintenance and care, they are fairly easy to grow, and can be enjoyed through all the seasons – if you remember to freeze the berries. Another added benefit of growing blueberries is that they are good for your health and are high in antioxidants.