The Benefits of Blueberries
Blueberries are one of the healthiest foods you can eat. They are rich in antioxidants and nutrients. They can be eaten right off the plant, made into jams and jellies, fermented to make homemade wine, or baked into muffins, pies, or other baked goods.
The Needs of Blueberry Plants
With the versatility and healthiness of blueberries I decided to plant some on my farm. Even if you do not have a farm I am sure you could find a bit of space to grow blueberries in your yard or in containers on a patio. I have a lot going on at my farm in growing crops for both humans and livestock and with the constraints of living in an area of large shade trees that I have to get creative in how and where I plant my crops. I recently added a pond and had to remove some trees which open up an area for sunlight. That is where I planted my blueberry plants.
Besides obviously needing sunlight to grow blueberries need to be planted with at least two varieties for better pollination. I planted three varieties of blueberry plants: Climax, Britewell and Tifblue. I bought 16 blueberry plants from Echo Springs Blueberry Farm near my home in Texas. To give you an idea of the cost, I paid $8.75 per each 1 gallon sized plant.
Blueberry plants require acidic soil with a pH of 4.0 to 5.0. The roots of blueberry plants are shallow grown and are very close to the surface. With that in mind I will have to provide adequate soil moisture and will need to provide mulch. Mulching is required to aid in acidifying the soil, conserving soil moisture and controlling weeds.
I will also need to water the blueberry plants deeply once a week especially during the fruit ripening season. A normal blueberry season begins in late May and last until late July. I will need to pick the berries when they are fully ripe; otherwise the fruit may be sour.
How to Plant Blueberries
- While the plants are still in their pots place the blueberries to help you to visualize where they will be planted. I placed my blueberry plants 4 feet apart between each plant and about 6 feet between each row.
2. My husband tilled up the ground for me with his tractor. If you are unable to till the ground to loosen up the soil before transplanting the blueberry plants you will need to dig a hole twice the diameter of the root ball so that the roots can easily spread into the uncompacted soil.
3. Place the blueberry plant in the hole so that the top of the root ball is even with the surrounding soil level. You may discover that some of the plants may be root bound. Root bound means that the roots have essentially grown in a circle and are compacted. If this has happened you will need to gently squeeze and ruffle up the root ball a bit so that the roots begin to extend from the dirt a bit. This technique will help the plant to extend its roots into the nearby soil instead of continuing to grow in a circle.
4. Apply mulch made of pine needles, leaves, grass clippings, and/ or shredded tree bark.
5. Water thoroughly. It is important that during the first growing season to keep the root ball moist and to not allow it to dry out.
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