Care of The Plant
Growing blueberries require an acid soil that has a high organic matter with a pH in the range of 4.0-5.5, if grown in a container, an ericaceous potting compost should be used. Blueberries prefer a sheltered sunny spot in the garden, but they can be grown in partial shade, sheltered from cold winds and frost pockets and make a hole big enough to accommodate the complete root system, plant and then water well.
In the garden, plant 1.2m (4′) apart, applying a dressing of bone meal. Once planted, mulch with bark to a depth of 10- 15cm (4-6″), this will retain moisture, suppress weeds and maintain the organic content of the soil. When cultivating around the bush, take care not to damage the plants as they are shallow rooted. In hard water areas rainwater only should be used.
Pruning Blueberry Bushes
Blueberries require little in the way of pruning which is carried out in winter. Remove any weak, dead, damaged or diseased wood and in the first few years remove the tips of the branches. Blueberries fruit on branches that are 2-3 years old. To encourage new growth, remove a number of older branches that have fruited.
Birds can be a problem and bushes should be covered with netting just as the fruit starts to ripen. Harvest the berries when fully ripe or they will have an acid taste.
Pick the fruit when they have started to soften and come away easily, this is normally 7-10 days after they have turned blue. Pick the fruit by gently rolling the berry between thumb and forefinger to separate them from the stem. Not all fruit ripens at the same time and several pickings will be necessary. The fruit can be frozen or stored in the refrigerator for about two weeks.