Are you wondering which fruits to grow in your small garden?
Blueberries are one of the easiest fruits to grow in your garden. They don’t take up much space, and can be grown in containers or even planters. Additionally, you’ll never have to overpay for a bag of flavorless blueberries at the market again!
Except for being a wonderful food plant, blueberry bushes are rather pretty. Their glossy, dark green leaves turn bright red in fall. Small white or pink flowers turn into white berries that turn a bit bluer, day by day. Simply add them to a shrub border, to a mixed bed, or to pots on your veranda or patio.
Where to grow blueberries?
Blueberries are hard to plant and grow in zones 2 through 8 in the US. They are best grown in full sun for optimal fruiting, but are also tolerant to partial shade.
Blueberries prefer soil that is moist, acidic, and well-drained. If the soil in your garden is naturally acidic, then blueberries will be well-off there.
However, if you need to acidify your garden soil, or you’re growing them in raised beds or containers and need to make the soil inside more acidic, there are a few “tricks” you can play on the soil to quickly and naturally increase its acidity:
- coffee grounds
- peat moss
- pine needles
Blueberries can be purchased as potted plants throughout the growing season. They are best planted either in early spring or in early fall. Simply plant your blueberries at the same depth they were growing in their original container. If you’re planning on growing your blueberries in containers, then you’ll need to purchase a container that is at least 18 inches deep and can withstand harsh winter conditions.
How to grow organic blueberries
Once blueberries are established, they’re fairly easy to take care of. If your soil isn’t naturally acidic, you’ll have to amend it regularly to maintain appropriate acidity. You can do this simply by topdressing the soil around the plants with any of the amendments already mentioned above.
Blueberries appreciate a feeding (composting) in early spring when the buds begin to burst, and another one at fruit set. Fish emulsion or compost or manure tea all work well for this purpose, applied as a foliar feed or directly to the soil. Aside from feeding and keeping the soil acidified, you’ll need to weed around your plants regularly and make sure that they’re getting enough water per week.
You should mulch around your plants to retain soil moisture and keep weeds at bay. If you mulch with pine needles or coffee grounds, you’ll do double-duty by increasing the acidity of your soil and holding in the moisture.
Blueberry pests and growing problems
Blueberries don’t have many pest and disease problems. Rust, scale, and powdery mildew can sometimes pose problems. More often than not, birds will be the chief pest you’ll be dealing with – they’ll undoubtedly be after your berries! Luckily, there are a couple of things you can do to protect your lovely berries from birds.
Recommended blueberry varieties
There are 2 basic types of blueberries:
1. low bush and
2.high bush blueberries.
Here is some information on both types:
- Low bush blueberries are low, bushy, spreading shrubs. They grow 4 to 24 inches tall, and spread 1 to 2 feet. The fruit from these bushes ripens in mid-summer. These work well in the front of a border or edge of a garden bed. Lowbush blueberries are slightly more cold-tolerant than highbush blueberries.
- High bush blueberries have a more upright habit, growing 3 to 5 feet tall. Among the most popular varieties are ‘Dwarf Northblue‘ and ‘Patio Blueberry.’
Though miniature in size, they are also proof that, when it comes to nutrition, good things really do come in small packages. With 80 calories per cup, virtually no fat and low in sodium, blueberries offer many nutritional benefits. Here’s the skinny on blueberry nutrition:
- In just one serving, you can get 14 mg of Vitamin C – almost 25% of your daily requirement. Vitamin C is necessary for growth and development of tissues and promotes wound healing. Vitamin C also aids collagen formation and helps maintain healthy gums and capillaries and a healthy immune system.
- A handful of blueberries can help you meet your daily fiber requirement. Dietary fiber may reduce the risk of heart disease and adds bulk to your diet, which may help you feel full faster.
- Blueberries are high in manganese. Manganese helps the body process cholesterol and nutrients such as carbohydrates and protein.
- National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Release 26 U.S. Department of Agriculture-ARS 2011.
- MedLine Plus Database: Vitamin C.
- Medline Plus Database: Dietary Fiber
- MedLine Plus Database: Manganese