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How to Grow Blueberry Bushes
Blueberries are absolutely one of the best fruits you can eat...... or grow. They taste good, and are good for you. There is a wide variety of blueberry bushes to choose from. Some grow several feet tall and wide. Others are small enough to grow in a container on your patio or deck. That's why more and more home gardeners grow a few blueberry bushes.
Did you know? Blueberries can help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of cancer. As if the great taste wasn't enough reason to eat them in large quantities.
The month of July is Blueberries Month. That's because the blueberry harvest in most areas of the country is during July. You will, however, find varieties that ripen at different times, some as early as June, and others into September.
Varieties of Blueberries - There's a huge variety of blueberries. Some grow over six feet tall, while others can be grown in a container on your patio or deck. See Varieties of Blueberries
How to Grow Blueberries:
Blueberries are easy to grow. Select healthy young blueberry bushes, from a reputable nursery or garden supply store. It is recommended that you grow two varieties of blueberries. This is necessary in many varieties to assure proper pollination, and the largest harvest.
Plant blueberry bushes in the spring. Select a location that receives full sun.They will grow in clay and other poor or rocky soils. Importantly, you may need to increase the acidity in your soil, to grow healthy bushes. They need acidic soils with a pH of 4.0 to 4.5.
Space blueberry bushes about five to six feet apart. We recommend rows eight to ten feet apart. They will tolerate a little crowding, especially the low growing Varieties. Mix in healthy amounts of compost and other organic matter. Maintain a thick layer of mulch around the bushes. This helps to eliminate weeds, and retains soil moisture. Water well after planting, and in the first few weeks as necessary, to promote good root growth. Roots are shallow, and do not grow deep. So, more frequent water may be needed in dry weather.
A new blueberry bush will produce fruit in the third year! Then, the bush will thrive for many years to come, with just a little care and maintenance.
Add fertilizer once in the spring and again in late summer. The latter application will help to promote buds for next year.
Pruning Blueberry Bushes
Buds for next year's fruit forms in late summer through early fall. Blueberry buds for next year will form on second year wood. Keep this in mind when pruning. Pruning is recommended in the winter. As you prune the newest growth, you are reducing production for the following year. As you cut well down an established stalk, you are cutting reducing fruit production for the upcoming year.
First, remove dead or diseased branches and stems. Then, cut away a few stalks from bushy plants. Good air circulation, is essential to plant health. Finally, trim back the bush, to maintain an acceptable height. Be careful not to cut away more than 1/2 of the newest growth.
Pruning results in healthier plants and fewer, but bigger berries.
Birds and Blueberries
Birds love blueberries. Both home gardeners and commercial growers quickly find this out. And those birds can be oh so smart! I realized this one day as I walked amidst the blueberry field of a farmer friend of mine. He had bought an expensive sound system which alternately played a variety of predator bird sounds and calls. I watched as a small flock of birds munched on plump blueberries right next to a speaker.
If you are going to grow blueberries, you need a plan of attack to keep the birds away. One approach is to simply share your fruit with them. As a fellow bird lover, this may not sound too bad. But, you will need several bushes to keep your family and the birds satisfied.
We recommend you make those birds feel blue. Take the fruit of your labor away from them. The most effective means short of a shotgun is bird netting. It is relatively inexpensive and will last for a few years.
Recipes: May we suggest:
Blueberry bushes put on a spectacular fall foliage display. Their leaves of a Blueberry plant, turns a colorful rust-red color. (see above)
These hardy bushes need no special protection in the winter.
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