If you love to pick and eat fresh, have you tried growing your own blueberries? We have all heard of blueberries, but what a lot of us do not know is that they are easy to grow. Blueberries are a wonder food and are a fantastic addition to the garden whether you grow them as specimen plants in containers, or as a low hedge.
Blueberries like soil which is slightly acidic with plenty of nitrogen. A slow-release fertiliser, such as Oderings Total Replenish in spring before the new growth appears is ideal. You may not realise this, but some blueberry varieties can be killed if there is too much calcium present in the soil, therefore avoid lime fertiliser and gypsum. Water is vital for the full development of your berries, which swell rapidly in the last two weeks of ripening. Lack of water can mean a poor crop and dark, undersized berries.
While blueberries are resistant to most diseases, it is prudent to spray to prevent mildew and cover them to protect the ripening berries from birds. The plants are hardy to minus four degrees, although frost will damage flowers. They can also suffer from iron and magnesium deficiencies. If your plant leaves are a reddish-yellow colour, especially near the edges it is most likely a magnesium deficiency and if the leaves turn yellow with green veins it is most likely an iron deficiency.
Knowing how to prune blueberries is important, because fruit is borne on last season’s wood and the most vigorous wood bears the largest fruit. The flower buds that will produce next year’s crop develop on the outer part of this year’s growth in late summer as stems mature. Minimum pruning consists of the removal of dead or damaged wood, any weak growth or twiggy old branches. Remove some of the oldest branches after four to five years to encourage new growth. While light pruning is possible year around, winter is the best time for heavy pruning.
Blueberry Swirl: A self-fertile plant, meaning the flowers can be fertilised with their own pollen. Many varieties of blueberries require the presence of another variety for pollination and fruit set. ‘Swirl’ is a late-season rabbit-eye blueberry, with flowers and fruit coming after most other varieties. It is also more heat and drought tolerant and the fruit are tasty and sweet.
Blueberry Delight: One of the most attractive, vigorous and high-yielding southern high-bush varieties. The summer fruit are medium to large sky-blue berries with a sweet and spicy flavour. The bright blue-green foliage provides a perfect contrast to the pink and white spring flowers. This variety enjoys cool nights and yields best when planted with other varieties.