I had a couple of blueberry bushes that were “under performers”. I have had them for a few years and they have only given me a few handfuls of blueberries. I decided to just remove them and start all over. Before going out to buy them, I wanted to do a little research on how to grow blueberries. I’ve read that blueberries are one of the easiest fruits to grow in the garden, so I definately need to find out what I did wrong!
Where should I plant blueberries?
- Full sun. At least 6 hours of sun a day. They would grow well in the same area as your vegetable garden.
- Blueberries need to planted in well drained soil. They like an acidic soil with a pH between 4-5.5. If you don’t know if your planting area is acidic, you should do a soil test. You can purchase a soil kit at your local nursery or home improvement store and send it off, or you can get a free kit at your local agricultural extension center and mail it off for results. The results will give you instructions on how to amend your soil based on your results. If you need to decrease the soil’s pH, a sulfer based soi acidifier will be recommended. You can also grab a soil kit here. Just collect the soil as instructed, mail back in the prepaid envelope and you will get your online results in 6-8 days.
When do you plant blueberries?
- Blueberries can be planted in spring and fall.
What type of blueberry should I plant?
Visit your local nursery. They will carry the variety best suited for your area. If you purchase your’s online, be sure and read the description carefully to be sure they are suited for your area.
There are three primary types of blueberries:
- Lowbush: These are the hardiest types of blueberries and do well in cold climates, tolerating temperatures as low as -3O degrees. The name lowbush comes from the fact they only grow 12 to 36 inches high.
- Highbush: These will grow up to 7 feet high and do better in milder climates.
- Rabbiteye: This type of blueberry is the most heat and drought tolerant. They also are the most forgiving of poor soils.
Each type of blueberry bush have different varities, and the variety will produce fruit at different times of the year: early season, mid season, and late season beginning as early as April. *Blueberries are self-pollinating, but if you want to increase the pollination rate and the crop harvest you should plant 2 different varieties in close proximity to each other.
I purchased a variety known as SharpBlue. It was developed at the University of Florida and does well in my hot humid North Georgia climate. It is a highbush type and produces fruit in late April and early May. I purchased two of those, and will place a Rabbit-eye variety called Brightwell in between those two. It is another blueberry that performs well in the south. It will produce fruit in June or July. By planting two varieties that produce fruit at different times I will have a steady supply of blueberries for salads, muffins, and smoothies.
How do you plant and care for blueberries?
- Dig a hole two to three times wider than the rootball of the bush. But only as deep as it was in the pot. You don’t want the plant too deep. The crown should be right at the soil level, with the roots just under the surface. Add peatmoss to the soil that you removed from the hole. Place the bush into the hole and backfill with this mix when planting. Mulch with finely ground pinebark and water well. I am a big fan of compost, but this is one time it is NOT recommended. Blueberries are not fond of compost.
- Space the plants apart according to the plant tag. Those small gallon size plants will soon be 6-7 feet high and as wide.
- Mid season after the first year you plant, you can add an organic nitrogen source fertilizer such as soybean meal, alfala meal, or cottonseed meal. You can also purchase a organic fertilizer for blueberry plants.This is the one I use from Espoma.
- Blueberries like water and will need to be consistently watered until the ground freezes. Don’t allow the soil to become too dry. In the summer especially, aim for 1 inch of water per week. Water at the roots.
Everything But The Kitchen Sink Smoothie:
I love to make smoothies. Getting all your recommended daily dose of fruits and vegetables is hard. But one way is to make a smoothie. I say everything but the kitchen sink is thrown in. I use fresh or frozen blueberries, strawberries, 1/2 banana, peaches, pineapples, a date, some spinach or kale, and a teaspoon of chia seeds! I buy the unsweetened frozen peaches and other fruit, so I add a packet of Splenda to give it a little sweetness. You could also add honey. I like using some frozen fruit because it makes the smoothie thick. I aim for about 2 cups of mixed fruit, and add 3/4 cups cold water and blend. Delicious!
Let me share one of my favorite garden books I received a couple of weeks ago. Some of the information in this blog post was taken from the book “The Vegetable Gardening Book” Your complete guide to growing an edible organic garden from seed to harvest. I pre-ordered mine, but it’s available now. Purchase your’s here.
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