Pancakes, tarts, pies, we love adding blueberries to any recipe. And we’re not alone.
Take advantage of the peak fruiting season this July to celebrate this delicious little berry.
Not only delicious and popular, but blueberries are also one of the top 10 healthiest foods.
These nutritional powerhouses are packed with antioxidants that help guard against cancer and heart disease. Blueberries are low in calories, but rich in fiber and vitamins. One serving of blueberries serves up almost 25 percent of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C. Plus, blueberries have a favorable impact on blood sugar regulation in persons already diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Grow your own blueberries – It’s easy!
The secret to blueberry success is the Four P.S. — planting, pruning, picking, and protecting.
Simply follow these four simple tips to help bushes flourish season after season!
First, plant the right variety. Compact blueberries, like those from Bushel and Berry, are perfect for growing in containers, raised beds, or even directly in the garden.
Once you’ve chosen a blueberry bush, plant it in a sunny spot with at least six hours of sun each day.
Next, consider the soil. Blueberries love acidic soils. A pH of 4.5-5.5 is ideal. A simple soil test indicates acidity, which can easily be adjusted with a balanced organic fertilizer. Soil kits and amendments are available at any local garden center.
Give the plant’s roots plenty of growing room when planting in a container.
Plant dwarf blueberry bushes in pots 16” or more in diameter and water deeply and regularly to make sure all of the soil within the pot is moist.
Cutting branches off any plant can be daunting, but it’s best for the plant. Pruning gives berries more space between branches, allowing air to flow freely and preventing disease.
It’s best to prune blueberries in late winter when the plants are still dormant. Remove stems that are damaged, old or dead. Take out up to a quarter or even a third of the bush, then trim it up to a neat and tidy look.
Fertilizing is recommended in early spring. Choose a balanced, organic, slow-release fertilizer for acid-loving plants.
We recommend a second application of fertilizer in late spring to give the plants an extra burst of energy for fruit production.
With planting and pruning in the bag, the next step — picking — is the payoff. Be sure to watch your berries carefully and pick them before the birds do! Aust suggests getting one berry for yourself and one for the birds.
A little protection ensures your blueberry bush will thrive for another bountiful season. Keep critters away by covering bushes with bird netting in the spring.
Winter weather poses the biggest risk to berry bushes, so be sure to protect roots.
Blueberries in pots are easiest to protect from the cold — just move the pots into an unheated garage or against a building and cover with thick mulch, burlap, or a blanket.
Spring’s sudden cold snaps endanger emerging growth, as well. Be sure to cover blueberry bushes with burlap or blankets when the forecast calls for frost once buds and flowers are emerging.
Are you growing berries this year? What will you be making with them?
As urban gardening continues to trend, container gardens are popping up everywhere! Container gardens are perfect small-space solutions. Not only do they provide added appeal to your space, they also give you delicious food right at your fingertips. If you have limited space, or simply just want to add another element to your existing crop, grow these container plants on your patio this summer.
- Blueberries – These sweet summer fruits grow great in containers. Because blueberries are so small, you can get a big harvest with very little space. Blueberries love acidic soil, so check the pH level of your soil and add Espoma’s Holly-tone if necessary. Check out more on growing blueberries here.
- Tomatoes – With tons of varieties, there is a tomato for everyone. Some of our favorites to grow in containers include smaller varieties like grape or cherry tomatoes. These are easy to pick right off the vine and are perfect for gardening with kids. Learn more about growing tomatoes in our ultimate tomato-growing guide.
- Peppers – Like tomatoes, peppers come in many different shapes and sizes. Whether you’re looking to add some spice to your garden with jalapenos, or prefer milder bell peppers, these colorful veggies are a vibrant summer sight. Peppers love lots of direct sun, so plant these containers in a bright area.
- Zucchini – One of our favorite summer veggies, zucchini, is a bit larger than tomatoes and peppers and needs more room. Grow in a container with at least a five-gallon capacity with proper drainage. Use Espoma’s Garden-tone to get the most out of your zucchini plants. Like peppers, zucchini will thrive with 6-8 hours of sunlight, so plant in a sunny spot.
- Herbs – Because herbs are small, they are the perfect fit for any container garden. Kitchen staples such as rosemary, basil, and mint are great additions to any dish or even a refreshing summer drink. Grow herbs in Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix in containers inside or out.
If you have limited space, don’t let that discourage you! With the right containers and a little bit of planning, you can have a delicious summer harvest in no time.