The acid heads of the garden, very powerful antioxidants and on the dirty dozen for pesticides in non organic foods. But who can afford organic blueberries; not me! I have a link to a wonderful little kindle book I got for free. I hope you can get it too! http://www.amazon.com/Blueberries-Your-Backyard-Antioxidant-ebook/dp/B0085YNZD2/ref=zg_bs_292975011_f_22
So, why would we want to grow blueberries? In my personal opinion they are a perfect plant for homesteaders. They can grow in a multitude of environments including in containers. They have beautiful foliage. They are a super food, high in antioxidants. And best of all they are yummy. Just thinking of little blue faced, smurf looking children raiding the blueberry bushes makes me smile. So let’s dive in!
- Health benefits: The highest antioxidant capacity of all fresh fruit, Neutralizes free radicals which can affect disease and aging in the body, Aid in reducing belly fat, Helps promote urinary tract health, Preserves vision, Great for brain health, Prevents heart disease, Lowers cholesterol, Improves digestion, Prevents constipation, Prevents cancer, they Improve mood and Prevent depression. Here are links for more information: http://www.womenfitness.net/blueberries.htm http://www.naturalnews.com/030927_grape_seed_extract_brain_health.html http://www.naturalnews.com/blueberries.html a breakdown of nutrition – http://www.blueberrycouncil.org/health-benefits-of-blueberries/blueberry-nutrition/
- The blueberry bush is a beautiful plant and a wonderful food hedge. In the spring the flowers form in clusters of tiny, pink-tinged white bells on the twigs of the blueberry bushes. In the summer, the leaves turn a deep rich green with a shiny texture. In the fall leaves of the blueberry bushes go from green to a deep dark red, then the red color will brighten and you will see some bright orange in the foliage. The leaves remain on the bush a good portion of the fall; and you should get several weeks of outstanding fall color. In the winter Blueberry bushes display red color in their twigs and buds. And lets not forget about the beautiful tiny white flowers and dark purple, green and pink berries in different stages of ripening. So what could be better for an ornamental in the yard, or a hedge of food producing plants (a fedge), or a nice potted plant for the porch?
- There are 3 basic types of blueberries: highbush, lowbush, and rabbiteye. Lowbush grow 1-3 ft tall, more like a groundcover. They thrive in Eastern Canada, new England and the upper Midwest. Highbush usually reach 5-6 ft. tall and up to 10 ft. Highbush grow in the Mid-Atlantic states and on the West Coast. Norhern Highbush varieties include: Bluecrop, Elizabeth, Rubel, Duke, Jersey, and Legacy. Originally the Highbush varieties couldn’t be grown in the South; but fortunately Southern Highbush Varieties have been developed. They have a lower chill requirement and would fruit better in the heat. Some of these varieties are: Southmoon, Sharpblue, Misty, O’Neal, Jubilee’ and the 3-4 foot dwarf Sunshine Blue. Rabbiteye Blueberries are native to the Southeast; from Texas to North Carolina to Florida. There are best adapted to the hot climate of the deep south. Varieties include: Brightwell, Climax, Beckyblue, Powder Blue, Tifblue, Chaucer, and Centurion. here is a link for more info on Rabbiteye blueberries from Texas A&M; http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/fruit-nut/files/2010/10/blueberries.pdf
- Blueberries do have special growing requirements that some say make growing them in a pot even easier. You will get more fruit and larger plants if grown in the ground however. The main thing is they are acid lovers. Ph should be about 4.0 to 5.5. This can be accomplished with the right soil and amendments. Just invest in a ph meter. They are cheap and easy to use. Just poke the prongs in the ground and read it. For the soil mix there are many recipes, all require lots of pine straw, bark or compost to lower the ph. Here is a typical one: 1/3 bark, 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 forest product potting soil.(Dave Wilson Nursery Recipe). Another from Raintree Nursery: 80% shredded bark, 10% pumice, and 10% peat moss. Another way is:. Use a one-third mix of potting soil intended for camellias and azaleas, peat moss, and small pathway bark, along with a handful of soil sulfur.
A good rule of thumb is to have 60 -80% of your “soil” as pine bark, needles or peat moss to keep the ph low and have good drainage. If planted in a container at least 15 gallon size would be the best. Unless you grow a smaller variety like the Top Hat Blueberry. Every year add more acid mulch, compost or sulphur. I have read even coffee grounds work! Blueberries need more plants to fruit well for pollination.
- Suggestions are to plant several varieties that flower at the same time for better pollination. I’d like to have different varieties that flower all through the season for a longer harvest. Another good thing about blueberries is the fruit doesn’t come all at once. So you aren’t overwhelmed, but rather a few ripen at a time. Another reason they are so expensive to buy, they can’t be harvested all at once. Link for charts on chill hours, fruiting time from a nursery: http://www.fallcreeknursery.com/nursery/two_column/fruiting_season_chart
- If planted in a container make sure they get afternoon shade as they could easily get too hot. And don’t forget to provide good drainage.
- Blueberries produce only 2-3 years on each limb. So if you want heavy production, they must be pruned. And don’t forget the bird netting – as they love the berries too.
- When your over abundance happens they can be frozen, canned, made into jelly, jam, pies, cookies, smoothies, ice cream, wine, mead, beer, etc. Also don’t forget they can be dehydrated. I love dehydrated blueberries in my salad or with my 85% dark chocolate… Food of the Gods.
- Did I convince you yet?
- We also talk al little bit about birthing goats.
- Tumeric, the miracle herb.
- A fun you tube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IqArHwtvE9Y