Growing your own blueberries
These delicious berries have become very popular in recent years due to their exceptionally high concentrations of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They also belong to the elite group of so called 'super-foods'. Use the fruit mixed with others or the larger berries are great on their own, with cream or ice cream, or just as a snack.
Blueberries require a well drained acid soil which has had plenty of organic matter incorporated. If you have alkaline soil, or heavy clay it is better to grow in a container of ericaceous compost. The red stems of the plant, autumn colour and pretty white flowers in spring, add to the bounty that this little plant has to offer.
- It is best to have two plants for cross fertilisation.
- Optimum soil acidity is between pH4.5 and 5.5, but will tolerate pH6 where plenty of organic matter has been dug in (NB: it is best to use well rotted pine chips or leaf mould to improve the soil as they provide nutrients and maintain acidity. Do not use manure.)
- Blueberries require very little pruning. However, in the winter remove any dead, weak, damaged or diseased wood, and for the first few years remove the tips of the branches.
- It is wise to net the plants once the fruit has set to avoid birds taking the fruit.
- Pick the fruit when they are beginning to soften and come away from the plant easily, generally 7-10 days after they turn blue.