Blueberries are nature’s super foods, packed with antioxidants and filled with flavour, they make a wonderful dwarf hedge or can be grown in pots if space is limited.
Plant them in full sun, protected from strong winds in early Spring. Acidic soil is best for them with a watering regime about every two or three days, with pots a daily water, especially in the heat of Summer.
Blueberries are a compact bush and can be trimmed to size, however it’s best to wait a few years for the roots to establish. There are mainly three varieties but I understand that the lowbush one is not available in Australia due to climate restraints.
Mainly grown for their berries, they are a small round fruit brimming with juice and although called blueberries are technically shaded deep purple due to the pigment ‘anthocyanin’.
To grow decent size blueberries you need to have the right soil. A pH 4-5 is generally required with an application of sulphur needed to bring it to this level, as most other plants are in the vicinity of around pH 6–7. In other soils the fruit is likely to be a lot smaller than those in the shops.
Most nurseries advocate that a premium potting mix suitable for azaleas and camellia would be ideal for those potted varieties. Blueberries need a free draining soil and plenty of water over the hot summer months.
Birds can be a problem and it may be necessary to cover with netting to protect your fruit.
That tiny star shaped hole at the top of the berry is called a “calyx”, while the white powdery looking substance on fresh blueberries is called “bloom”. It’s mother natures way of protecting them from the sun and pests, although there are few pests to deal with.
According to the ABC show Gardening Australia, if you don’t want to use sulfur to lower the pH of your soil then another trick is to gather some pine needles, (these are very acidic), or spent coffee grounds to get the soil right mix. The good thing about pine needles is that they mimic the plants natural environment because they originally come from the forests in North America.
Once a tree is established in your garden it will fruit for up to 20 years. So looking after your blueberry plant may be preference to buying them at the supermarket.
Your plants will begin fruiting around two years, however you will get flowers and fruit before that time and although it will be hard to do, pick off the flowers for the first two years and allow the first few seasons time for the plant to establish itself.
Freezing blueberries is the best way to preserve the fruit’s nutritional goodness, but should some go soft, don’t throw them away. Make them into jam.
Some nurseries recommend “Blueberry Sunshine Blue”, a dwarf bush that produces masses of large sweet berries in late spring and summer. Suitable it seems for all parts of Australia as it does not require cold weather to produce fruit.
Well, I hope you try growing this little bundle of energy yourself – it’s well worth it.
Till next time.