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How To Grow BlueBerries - One Of The Top 10 Super-Foods.


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James Kilkelly
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2008 2:26 pm    Post subject: How To Grow BlueBerries - One Of The Top 10 Super-Foods. Reply with quote

How To Grow BlueBerries - One Of The Top 10 Super-Foods.
By Julie Williams.

BlueBerries - are high in antioxidants, low in calories and sodium, contains no cholesterol and is high in fibre, folic acid, carotenoids, as well as vitamins C ( about 25mg/100g), A and B. A major component of the fibre is pectin, which is known for its ability to lower blood cholesterol. The juice from fresh blueberries also contains a compound that inhibits bacteria from anchoring to the bladder, helping prevent urinary tract infections.

Blueberries have a strong, sweet flavour and are quite easy to prepare and can be eaten fresh (raw) or used to make jellies, pies, preserves, jams, pastries or juice. Freezing does not reduce their value.

The cultivated blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) would make a great plant for home gardeners as it requires little space, but as it is a woodland plant it needs highly acidic soil conditions to grow well. You will need to prepare the growing area well in advance to make sure it is at a pH of between 4 - 5. To ensure healthy growth, you will need to maintain this pH throughout the life of the plant.

Planting location.
It prefers to be grown in full sunlight, in humus-rich, moisture-retentive soil. Blueberry plants are fully to marginally frost-hardy, some varieties coping with temperatures as low as minus 25°C (minus 13°F). They need cool winters and low summer humidity or mildew may be a problem.

Blueberry plants love organic matter and a thick mulch mixture of grass cuttings, dead leaves (not beech or red maple), straw or conifer needles are suitable.

Blueberry plants grow as spreading bushes, up to 1.5m /60inches tall. Some varieties have red foliage in autumn.

. The cultivated blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) , photo / picture / image. [/size]

Planting.
The best time of year to plant into your garden is during autumn and winter while the plant is fully dormant.
Make the planting hole about 50cm / 20inches wide and deep. Fill it with compost or a mixture of peat and soil. Plant about 1cm / ½ inch deeper than it was in the pot or bag.

Pollination and Fruiting.
Blueberries are self-pollinating, but for heavier cropping, grow two or more cultivars side by side. Set plants about 1.5m / 5feet apart. If you plan on growing many plants, space rows about 3m or 10 feet apart.

During the last month of spring they produce red to white bell-shaped flowers. The large blue berries ripen from the middle of the first month of summer through til the end of the first month of autumn.

They begin to produce fruit in the third season, but may not become fully productive for about six years. Flower buds are produced on tips and along the second-year-old shoots.

Bird damage.
You will need to protect the fruit from birds as it is very attractive to them. Bird netting can be very difficult to remove, so I suggest you make a frame-work of poly tubing or similar before using netting.

Feeding.
Feed your blueberry plants only in autumn / fall with mature compost and lightly work it in to the soil, covering with a thick layer of mulch, remembering to keep mulch about 10cm / 4inches from the base of the plant.

Pruning.
You will not need to prune your blueberry plants until around the fifth year of growth. Remove any flowers that may appear in the first season and second years growth after planting to encourage vigorous growth.

From the fifth season onwards, during their dormant time in autumn, remove the oldest shoots nearest the ground as well as any dead or weak branches and thin, terminal wood with undersized buds. Prune any inward-facing branches to allow more light to the centre of the plant.

Water.
Blueberry bushes have quite shallow root systems so are very sensitive to water fluctuations. They will need 2-5cm / 1 - 2 inches of water per week. In really dry conditions, additional watering is crucial to obtain good yields of high quality fruit. But it is unnecessary to apply water in autumn / fall or winter unless soil it is very dry. It is always preferable to use rain water.

You can purchase varieties that are early season fruiters, medium through to late season producers. Choose varieties that grow best in your area. Propagation is by layering. Good luck in growing this wonderful, health inspiring plant!

Hi, I am an avid organic gardener and am known by my friends as the recycling queen.
Please visit my website http://www.1stoporganicgardening.com and get your free 3 part Composting Guide For Companion Planting info.
Happy gardening, healthy living...
Julie Williams

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Jacqcat
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2008 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm really interested in planting some bushes this year. Blueberries are a central food at home, right up there with Maple Syrup is Blueberry syrup!

The bird thing is worrisome, although I assume for the first few years, there aren't enough berries to really worry about?

I guess I could put them in the enclosure, which is quickly becoming an orchard, with apple and pear trees already planted! Although the holes are big enough for small birds to go through, the 7 cats are a pretty good deterrent so far.
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walltoall
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2008 1:23 am    Post subject: growing blueberries in small gardens in Ireland? Reply with quote

Sorry to be a bit anti on this blueberry suggestion.
Trying to produce blueberries is a worthy aim and it's great to experiment.
But! The above article tells the story from Australia as I see it.
It also looks suspiciously like a cut'n'paste job that was not well thought through.
Tell me I'm wrong?
Here is an alternative view from closer to home and from almost exactly a year ago.

http://www.irishfarming.ie/2007/08/15/growing-blueberries/

I somehow think I'll go with the irish farming one for the mo?
However, if I was back in Doon with all the bog across the road I might stick in a few shrubs and wait for three years.
But I'm not. I'm in semi-arid Thurrock with limey clay soil that dries out totally in Summer and I have to pay for my water supply.
Yes, even what I save off the roof costs money too.

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verge
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2008 11:16 am    Post subject: Re: growing blueberries in small gardens in Ireland? Reply with quote

walltoall wrote:
The above article tells the story from Australia as I see it.
It also looks suspiciously like a cut'n'paste job that was not well thought through.
Tell me I'm wrong?
Here is an alternative view from closer to home and from almost exactly a year ago.


I somehow think I'll go with the irish farming one for the mo?


The article above is from a legal reprint site walltoall, and as such was felt to be of use to the home gardener. The article you linked to has its merits as well, but comes at growing blueberries from a commercial angle not the hobby gardener. If you would like point out any information in the original article which does not relate to Irish growing, then I can consider adding additional notes or edits.

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inishindie
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2008 2:53 pm    Post subject: growing tips Reply with quote

Aye up

Just thought I would put my pennies worth in here and say a bit (repeated mostly) sitting in my seat up in Inishowen.......

Blueberries look as though they should grow in tropical climates; the prices in the shops reflect this. You might be surprised to learn that our damp climate and acid soil is just what these plants need to flourish. The fruit is very closely related to the Irish bilberry you might have picked when out for a walk in the hills. Blueberries have been grown commercially since 1992 in Co. Offaly.

Blueberries require light, free-draining acidic soils, with plenty of rich, organic matter if they are to thrive. The soil should have a pH of between 4 and 5.5, similar to the requirements of rhododendrons and camellias. It is possible to lower the pH levels of your soil with sulphur chips or dust. However, they will need to be added three weeks before planting to take effect. Monitor the soil's pH every few years, because it may be necessary to add acid. If you do not have suitable soil, simply grow blueberries in a pot containing acidic soil, giving the plants a high potash feed (such as tomato feed) occasionally during the growing season. See if you can find someone with an established bush and take some cuttings. If you want named varieties such as chandelier or earliblue. Companies such as Thompson and Morgan sell the plants. They are expensive but you will soon recoup your investment.

Growing tips

Plant two different varieties of blueberries to ensure cross-pollination. A single blueberry plant will produce fruit, but the yields will be higher and the fruits bigger if more than one plant is grown.

Blueberries require a position in full sun or light shade.

Plant blueberries in the dormant season leaving about 1.5m (5ft) gaps between them.

Mulch with a layer of acidic peat, wood chippings or pine needles.

Water the plants in well.

There are quite a few varieties to choose from so get the best for your site. Other types include:


'Bluetta'

'Bluetta' is a fairly tasty and vigorous, compact variety, with a spreading habit, producing a medium-sized, light blue berry.

'Patriot'

This blueberry is a high-yielding, vigorous, hardy variety with medium to large blue berries and excellent flavour.

'Bluecrop'

This variety has large, light blue berries with good flavour. It is slightly aromatic and has excellent orange and copper leaves in autumn.

'Herbert'

Many people say that 'Herbert' is the tastiest variety of blueberry. It produces large berries and has moderate vigour.

Cheers

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2008 8:52 pm    Post subject: Re: growing tips Reply with quote

inishindie wrote:


Blueberries look as though they should grow in tropical climates;


LMAO at home (in Canada) they grow wild all over the place... I think they can handle a westmeath winter or two! Laughing
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walltoall
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2008 10:06 pm    Post subject: blueberries need damp and ericacious Reply with quote

my garden is in a 'semi-arid' climate with long periods of drought and a very limey soil. We have serious trouble with a rhododendron and our camellias have to minded like babies. They are actually now growing in buried pots. I'm concerned about wasting time. If only I was back near Westmeath. Maybe I'll try the buried pot method and keep it ericated or whatever the term is for sprinkling those coloured granules every month.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 10:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, I am delighted to find this thread on Blueberries! We had 2 B. bushes on the allotment since early last year. There were lots of blossoms on them but just a few berries. This year I put in a third ,having read a different cultivar would help fruit production. Same thing happened, we blamed the birds!
Recently I read they like an acid soil and should be treated like rhododendrons etc. They are growing in a fruit bed between raspberries and blackurrants.
We are going to move them this autumn to a more suitable site with a peat based compost. Good idea or not? How and when , all advice appreciated.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 11:29 am    Post subject: EricaciousBlueberries Reply with quote

As far as I'm concerned, to be successful with blueberries on any scale you need to mix plants and treat them as lime-haters. I did not clearly understand whether you checked the varieties of your three plants at flowering? They may all be the same cultivar. But at flowering it is possible to note.

Although I am sure you'll have read this thread from top to bottom, just double check and read between the lines. Inisindie has all the good points.

I'd suggest that (unless your bushes are huge) you put them in large pots. Use ericacious compost (low pH). Bury the pots up to their necks. Allow them access to full sun. Surroundings as such don't matter to such plants.

Its 'acid' soil they need to thrive, two different cultivars to fruit, bees in the allotment to ensure pollination, and then patience to wait. They don't actually produce fruit for the first three or four years. They also don't like to dry out or be subjected to drought. By having them in pots you can trickle feed them a pint of water each per day. By the way, all fruiting is enhanced by the addition of potash, but not for the first three years? On a small scale you can get potash from wood ashes.

Your barbecue can provide potash in Ireland as I am aware of the ban on gardening fires in Ireland. lol

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Last edited by walltoall on Sat Sep 27, 2008 7:24 am; edited 2 times in total
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Organicgrowingpains
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 11:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Walltoall, I dont know anything about the sex of the plants! All advice just mentions having different cultivars to aid pollination. The pots are a good idea but would they become pot bound as they grow? I did give the whole bed a dressing of potash feed (bought) early on this year. Confused Confused Confused
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 1:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm doing this by private message also, as I edited my previous post after you got it and others who did not see the original may be scratching their crania!

In theory blueberries 'self-pollinate', well with the help of bees. Bees pollinate flowers on a plant. That's the THEORY. Bees don't do theory very well. They just bizz along from flower to flower driven by the instinct to bring home some nectar.

In practice because modern blueberries have been developed by cultivation, (for which read genetically modified) they're sometimes messed up in the head. A single bush may not be best developed 'sexually'. Maybe the pollen count is low. Maybe a stamen or pistil is incorrectly formed. Then the bee's best endeavours may be in vain.

You ARE getting flowers. You are NOT getting fruit. Or the number of fruits bears no relation to the number of flowers. Your potash levels are ok if you get flowers. Potash is not a magic ingredient to give you fruit. Absense of potash can cause poorly-developed flowers (or none at all ). People got the idea that potash=fruit. It's not that simple.

The reasons for cultivars being less or more fertile are many, varied and complex. But basically, the more variation of types in an 'orchard' the more fruit will set, provided the flowers are there in the first place.

When your bushes flower next Spring, take note of the date of the first flower on each. Use a magnifying glass (or your phone camera on max zoom) to examine and compare the flowers on each. Ideally you want three bushes which have slightly different timing and appearance of flowers for the bees to do their best for you.

As for the potting. I have a fig tree eight foot high and with a fifteen foot spread growing in a pot not much bigger than a farmyard bucket/pail. It has set over 100 fruit this year. Unfortunately with the lack of sun they have not ripened. But that is not the fault of the pot.

I learned (c.1954) from my Grandad (b.1876) that by restricting the roots of apple trees you can stunt the growth of the tree while doubling the yield. Left to it's own devices many fruit trees will grow for Ireland rather than produce fruit.

As for hybridss, think of the following awhile.

A mule is the offspring of a horse and a donkey.
A jennet is the offspring of a donkey and a horse.
Both jennets and mules are sterile.
Nature does not take kindly to having her genes messed with.
Food for thought?

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Last edited by walltoall on Thu Apr 16, 2009 9:34 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 2:12 pm    Post subject: Re: Ericacious Blueberries Reply with quote

walltoall wrote:


By having them in pots you can trickle feed them a pint of water each per day.



good posting by walltoall there. however it is worth noting that the water trickle fed to the Blueberries should be collected rain water and not the hard limey water often delivered from the mains.

Now a quick question for walltoall. Does mother nature not over time genetically modify plants herself? I see the genetically modified bogey man trotted out far to often in these debates.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 2:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Folks by all means use the private messaging facility if you wish. As long as you realise that private messages are not visible to other members and the public. So gardening knowledge can be lost. If you think the debate/info would be of use to gardeners try and keep it on thread, as I for one am learning a lot. Wink
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 7:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, That certainly reopened that thread! All advice is appreciated. We will move our bushes around Oct, they need to be spaced if they need 5ft between them. I will put them in to pots of ericaceous compost also. The water on our allotment comes from an underground well and is fresh spring water but I can get rain water as I have a water butt at home if this is more suitable.Thanks walltoall for the tip on checking the flowers to determine the different plants.Will do that next year. next question, if they are genetically modified should they be on an organic allotment?
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 8:48 pm    Post subject: ericacious blueberries Reply with quote

First of all for Verge. On the ball as always! I privated a quick reply to Cork in case I might get in hot water with the the censor with a public reply full of sex. lol. I wanted my Cork colleague to have good advice right from the start as she/he seemed just a teeny bit lost. The subsequent posted message went out to everyone as an edited version of that private message (with little or no sex) and it is not really largely different! So everyone is kept in the loop! Which is where we are all at, is it not?

I hope lots of people on this forum will be moved to try growing blueberries, particularly in the boggy parts of Ireland where conditions are perfect. By the way, Ireland has ALWAYS had its own supply of 'blueberries'. They are generally called "Hurts" and are found on boggy uplands. I used to stuff myself with them as a kid on the Drum Hills of the Decies of Waterford and I bet they are still there.

The actual plant has many different names: bilberry, blueberry, huckleberry, whortleberry are commoner versions and cranberry is a very close cousin. The overall latin name is vaccilium ............ Cultivars are hybrids of some of the above, bred for larger fruit. I remember the 'Hurts' off the Drum Hills in the Decies of Waterford as being about the size of white currants and rather sparse. I'd be lucky if a single plant would yield ten berries. The cultivars were produced by concentrating on modifying the species with the largest berries.

As for 'genetic' modification, don't worry about it.

ALL inter- breeding of plants or animals is 'genetic modification'. Much of the time no-one notices as the modification is done by 'nature'. Oxlips occur in nature as a cross between primroses and cowslips. There has been so much crap written about genetic modification, that some people could easily believe that cowslips are genetically modified by taking the genes of a cow ............ I want to make it easier for people to succeed in producing their own 'blueberries'. I want them to succeed first time rather than experiment and fail repeatly like me! Score with healthy plants and loadsa fruit. Just be patient. It takes three years to fruiting.

I found a link that explains the problems of growing "vaccinium" and why potting in specifically ericacious compound may be a good idea for limey soils. It 's important for people interested in growing blueberries to read ALL submissions to this thread right from the very start as there is a wealth of information in there.

http://www.crocus.co.uk/plants/_/fruit/bush/berries-etc/blueberry/classid.1890/

is a very interesting link, . So let's grow Blueberries. They are good for you as GPI said at the very beginning. AND read all posts.Lot of sense in there.

On the subject of tap water versus rain water, maybe some soil scientist would address this one. My rainwater contains solids leached from the dirty air of London. (I live in the country to the East of the city). I also have dissolved NO2 which is picked up from the M25 motorway just two miles west of me.

My tap water is very hard but is free of 'contaminents'. You guys living, working and gardening in Ireland with some of the cleanest air in Europe don't know how lucky you are.

SW

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