Blueberries originate from North America where they grow wild, and this means they are vigorous, tough, and able to survive the English weather. Blueberry bushes produce significant quantities of berries after only three years, and are capable of being productive for thirty years.
Blueberries are very high in antioxidants and are relatively low in calories. The health benefits that have been attributed to blueberries include improved memory function, slowing the ageing process, and providing some level of protection from stress related illnesses.
Given the relative lack of calories, it is perhaps not surprising that some varieties have a slightly sharp or acid taste. Nevertheless, there are numerous recipes for cooking and sweetening the taste of blueberries in jams, muffins, and even wine.
- October – May
- Planting depth: Cover root ball
- Planting spacing: +1 metre
- July – September
- Eat fresh or freeze, also makes excellent compote
I think blueberries are a great choice for for the allotment, garden, or patio, and not just for their blueberry harvest, as they are a pretty plant to have around. In spring, they produce beautiful small white flowers from which the blueberries will come. Over the summer, there is the beauty of the blueberries themselves. The best display of all is in the autumn, with the turning of the leaves from their original deep green colour to red and then to gold.
The most important point to remember when growing blueberries is that they are an acid loving plant. Growing blueberries in pots is an ideal way of accommodating this, by filling the pot with ericaceous compost. It is best to use a big pot, Ensure that the pot has good drainage holes at the bottom – as blueberries like a moist well drained soil. Ideally, the pot should be placed in full sun, but blueberries should still grow well in partial shade.
It is best to water blueberries with rainwater to help sustain the acid soil environment. The best time to plant blueberries is in their dormant months from late autumn and through winter.
Care for blueberry bushes is straightforward, but as with most types of soft fruit, you are not the only one in your garden looking forward to their ripening!
If you want to avoid feeding the birds, then a net is an essential accessory. I have found that birds are very determined, and will even try to push the net back to reach the blueberries. You may want to keep a close eye on your bushes when the blueberries are ripening. Determined birds can get trapped inside the net.
It is recommended to avoid pruning blueberry bushes until they are about five years old. At this stage, old unproductive wood can be removed. The best and biggest blueberries come from two to three years old wood, so you will need to retain some old, as well as new wood, in the pruning process.
See blueberry varieties.