You might be hearing about them for the first time, but once you taste blueberries, you will want to have a steady supply of these delicious fruits.
Blueberries are widely distributed plants with blue or purple berries. The berries are cultivated for their edible, sweet-tasting fruits; They are enjoyed fresh and chilling before consumption enhances the taste even further.
Fortunately, it is easy to grow and maintain blueberry bushes, even for those with basic farming skills. Here are the top 8 tips if you’re to grow blueberries and enjoy a fresh, steady supply of these tasty fruits.
Choose the Right Variety of your Blueberries
You’ve over 50 varieties to choose from. But, the most grown variety in the world is the high bush variety- blue corp that grows from 5 to 6 feet.
Here are the most recommended varieties you can pick from:
- Pink icing
- Pink popcorn
- Powder blue
- Sunshine blue
Decide to Go for Cuttings or Seeds
Purchase Blueberry Plants Ready to Plant.
If you buy plants that have already started, you don’t have to worry about digging up the roots. However, you may pay more than if you buy bare root.
Buy Bare-root Blueberries Plants.
You will need to dig all the roots before planting. The plants have no dirt attached to them. Therefore,
- You won’t have to dig up the roots.
- You will pay less than those purchased ready.
Take note, however, that bare-rooted plants require more care.
Choose Your Site Carefully
The next step is selecting where you want your berries planted. Just ensure your soil is,
- Nicely prepared and without weeds
- Added compost fertilizer
- Mixed with peat moss and sand
- Moist enough to hold
- Well aerated to prevent diseases from spreading
Planting Your BlueBerries Bushes
You will find planting blueberries easy if you start from seed. Here is how;
- Sow them outdoors – 2 weeks before the last frost date.
- Plant your seeds 1/2 inch deep.
- Sow in flats or peat pots replenished with potting soil.
- Keep your plants watered till roots sprouts.
- Transplant into 3-inch containers when first leaves emerge.
- Plant barefoot transplants at a minimum of 6 inches apart in rows spaced 12 inches.
Blueberry bushes need to be pollinated with at least two trees. You should plant many trees to encourage pollination.
Pollination ensures your blueberry bushes have larger berries.
Bees and other insects are pollinators of blueberries. If you have more insects working your plants, the more fruit you will harvest.
Managing Weather, Pests, and Diseases
You should help your berries to absorb the power of nature- wind, sun, water. But at the same time enjoy protection from harsh climate elements such as hail and strong winds.
For instance, you can acquire netting to regulate microclimate and protect from hail or strong winds
The main insect threat is fruit fly-spotted wing drosophila that lays its eggs in ripe fruit, leading to destroyed berries. Adopting insect-proof netting can protect your berries.
The other threat comes from the Japanese beetle. It feeds on the leaves of blueberries making them vulnerable to winter injury. The good news is you can use Japanese beetle netting to protect your berries.
Birds can pose a serious threat to your berries Each year birds wipe out more than 20% of the berries. So protect your blueberries from birds by using blueberry netting.
Diseases do not cause major problems to your blueberry plants. If you prune carefully, you will help prevent disease infection.
So prune and dispose of parts of the plant that is dead or dying.
Keeping Your Berries Healthy and Productive
After 2 years, remove flowers in the spring to stimulate blueberries’ bush growth. This will ensure your berries stay productive for years.
If you allow your berries to produce when young, it will stunt their growth. This is because at this time your blueberries plants are small and weak. You require your berries to have a good and healthy canopy to support the fruits.
Blueberry bushes grow slowly and put on plenty of fruit after the first few years. Keep in mind that your berries reach mature size in 8 -10 years.
You can remove weeds to keep your brushes
- Neat and clean
- Prevent competition for water and nutrients.
Fertilization of Berries
Blueberries use a lot of nutrients to develop flowers and fruits. You can provide your berries with nutrients by:
- Applying plant fertilizers
- Adding compost tea
- Applying cured compost or manure or both
You should feed your berries once per month during summer.
After you have planted your berries, prune to:
- Get rid of dead and diseased parts
- Shape your blueberries to the desired form
- Maintain vigorous central stems
- Ensure new shoot growth
After the first year, prune the bushes every year in the early spring. You should note the following for proper pruning:
- The big berries are produced on the healthier wood
- Ensure your bush is open by removing weaker stems
- Get rid of older stems at la ower level
- 4-6 healthy older stems
- 1-2 strong new shoots per mature bush
- Take care not to prune heavily because this can reduce your yield.
Harvest and Storage
You should harvest your ripe fruit when:
- Your berries turn from green to blue.
- You have certified them ripe after tasting.
Once you have harvested your berries,
- Place them in the refrigerator.
- Avoid keeping berries in deep layers to prevent them from being damaged.
- Only wash when you are ready to eat, to prevent berries from molding in storage
Even better, blueberries freeze well. Here is how to freeze:
- Wash your berries and let them dry
- Lay your dry berries in a layer and place them in the freezer
- Once your berries are frozen, put them in an airtight container and place them in the freezer.
Growing blueberries take a while. By the time you get your harvest, you will have sweated to grow and protect your berries.
But it is a worthwhile venture when you see your bushes yielding juicy and quality berries.
With the tips provided, you have plenty to pick from, if you want to grow your blueberries to become more productive and healthy.
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