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How to Grow Fresh Blueberries

How to grow fresh Blueberries

Plant:

Various cultivars will fruit at different times from December through to late Summer. Check with you local nursery for plants that are suited to your region. Many blueberry plants require a cold snap over Winter but the varieties have different requirements, with some plants being suitable for warmer climates.

Plant in late Autumn or early Winter

Blueberries require an acidic, free draining soil. I have been advised by a grower in the past that they recommend home gardeners grow them in pots so that the soil environment can be monitored and maintained. If you are interested in testing your soil, it should be a pH of 4-5.5 I have never bothered with testing, and the plants I have look lovely and healthy and have a promising crop developing this year.

Grow:

Water regularly, at the base of the plant.  The plant is a free form bush, no training or support is required.

grow fresh blueberriesFertalise plants in the Spring. Blood and Bone and Seaweed solution are my choices plus a few handfuls of compost from the heap as it is ready. I regularly (weekly, or fortnightly) add our coffee grounds to the base of the plants also. In Winter I tend to give them a break and use the coffee in other areas of the garden.

Mulch around the base of the plants to retain moisture as the roots are close to the surface. Pine needles, and wood chips, coffee grounds and tea leaves all will assist to maintain an acid soil.

Add netting over the plant to protect the developing fruit from birds, and maybe the children also!

Net blueberries to keep out birds

Blueberry plants may also require some further cover or protection on extreme weather days (as with all plants) to prevent leaf burn.

As the plants develop remove about a third of the old wood (after 3-4 years). The blueberries will crop on older wood.  You may wish to prune out any branches that are too close to the ground and those that are weak. While the plant is essentially a bush it requires good air circulation around the center of the plant as with fruit trees. Remove any small central branches that are crossing into the center also.

Plants are said to reach full cropping potential after five or six years. Last year we had two small blueberry bushes, they are young, small plants and we harvested enough fruit for the kids to head out and collect a small handful each day.  This year I have added an additional three plants of varying varieties so am hoping to have a much larger crop over the coming years, with enough to cook with and freeze.

Berries are deciduous/semi deciduous with the leaves turning a glorious red in Winter. It is recommended that you have two species of blueberry plants that fruit around the same time to ensure pollination.

I have not encountered any pests or issues growing blueberries to date.

Harvest:

Avocado blueberry dairy free ice cream

Harvest fruit when it is plump, soft and deep blue in color.

Blueberries will freeze well. They may be frozen whole, or pureed and frozen in ice cubes to use in baking or juices.

Below you will find a few links to my recipes so that you can enjoy your blueberry harvest:

Avocado and Blueberry Dairy Free Ice Cream

Blueberry Yoghurt Muffins

Spelt Banana Blueberry Muffins

References:

Kitchen Harvest: Susan Berry, Frances Lincoln, London, 2002

1001 Hints & tips for the Garden 2nd ed.: Dr Judyth McLeod, Readers Digest, Utlimo, 2007

Organic Gardening in Australia: Pauline Pears (ed.) Dorling Kindersley, Campberwell, 2003

 

Are you growing Blueberries? Do you have any additional tips that you can provide?

Kyrstie

 

 

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Kate October 14, 2014, 7:58 am

    You’ve inspired me to plant some blueberry plants! Thank you

    • Kyrstie Barcak October 14, 2014, 9:31 am

      I am thrilled! Thanks Kate. I hope you get a bumper crop. Home grown always tastes so much better than those you can buy.

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