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Why You Should Plant Blueberries for Your Health and Your Pocketbook
Food production and prices are directly linked to the cost of energy. It requires energy to cultivate the soil, plant and harvest the crop. In addition, food is often shipped long distances requiring a lot of energy. Thus the higher price of fuel will increase the cost of our food. Does it make sense to ship vegetables from Mexico when local farmers can grow them? Even better you can grow some in your own backyard or patio. One simple change that is possible for the future is to grow some food crops locally. Most homeowners should grow 4 or 5 edible crops locally from a nutritional and economic standpoint. Of these, the very first would be blueberries. One of the most delightful things about growing blueberries is the prospect it provides of delicious healthy fruit.
More than 10 reasons why you should grow blueberries.
1. They can be grown in containers on your patio or in the landscape. Sunshine blue is an example of a great plant that can be grown in containers as well as in your landscape.
2. Health – Blueberries are one of the healthiest foods you can eat, they are packed with antioxidants. There are very few people who get enough antioxidants. Having a blueberry bush in your yard is one way to increase your consumption and control your cost.
3. Beautiful. The flowers on blueberries are delightful. The red fall color is beautiful. The colorful blueberry bushes in certain sunlight conditions or against an early snowfall can be a glorious experience. They can be used to beautify your landscape while simultaneously providing an edible crop.
4. Tolerant of a wide range of soils. The different varieties can be planted on any organically fertile soil and planted in the right growing zone. The pH should be between 4.2 and 5.1 with plenty of organic matter. Raised beds in some cases may need to be used when building the soil to ensure good drainage.
5. Tolerant of partial shade. Blueberries do not require full sun, they will continue to produce in partial shade produced by trees in our suburban homes.
6. Minimal insect problems. Caterpillars can be a problem on blueberries. They can produce defoliation as a result, you can lose a year’s production. You can also solve this potential problem without pesticide applications by using a small amount of Basic H in water and spraying it on your plants. Basic H can serve as a caterpillar repellent. Insects will not bite where Basic H has been applied. Apply Basic H full strength or diluted and spray and rub (but not over other chemicals/drugs on the skin). Insects will not bite where Basic H has been applied. Also relieves itching from insect bites (rub on, full strength)
7. Disease resistant. Standing water can cause root rot, but this can be remedied by using raised beds to ensure good drainage. There is no serious disease that affects blueberries.
8. Long harvest season. By planting early, mid-season and late-ripening varieties you can have fresh blueberries all season long.
9. Easy to store. Blueberries can be stored for 2 weeks in the refrigerator without a problem. For some varieties it is also possible six weeks in the refrigerator. You can also freeze them for a year or so of use.
10. Multiple uses. Fresh blueberries can be placed on cereal. Make a great blueberry pie. You can process them and make jam out of them or use them fresh or frozen to make a smoothie.
11. They are perennials once established they can continue to produce for many years.
Where to buy blueberries
One of the questions that are often asked is where to buy blueberry plants. Buy your plants from a reputable nursery. The best buy is biennial plants.
Some of the most common varieties:
Northern blueberry varieties – Blueray, Sunshineblue, Blue Crop, Bluegold, Elliot, Hannah’s Choice, Jersey, Nelson, Northland,
Southern blueberry varieties – Misty, Legacy, Golf Coast, Ozarkblue, O’Neal, Reveille, Sharpblue,
Rabbiteye varieties – Brightwell, Climax, Premier, Tifblue, Powder Blue. Rabbit-eyed blueberries are not self-fertile and at least two varieties that flower at about the same time need cross-pollination.
Tifblue is considered one of the best rabbits. Tiftblue Blueberries are among the tastiest rabbit eye blueberries. Tifblue is more cold hardy than most varieties of rabbit-eye blueberries. It should be the dominant variety in any planting.
Ozarkblue – Ozarkblue is a favorite variety. It is not disturbed by heat, does not need as much irrigation, resists spring frosts and never needs protection, and is very productive of the highest quality berries. It is their mid/late harvest, just before the rabbits.
Hannah’s Choice – Hannah’s Choice is a precocious highbush blueberry plant. May be the best tasting of all the precocious mid-northern tallbush cultivars.
Bluegold – a northern high-bush plant with a mid-season ripening time. BlueGold is a beautiful, compact, plant that grows only four feet tall. It bears large clusters of easy-to-pick blueberries. Bluegold produces large quantities of truly superior fruit
Sunshineblue – This self-pollinating southern altarbush produces small fruits of good quality, and exhibiting a long shelf life. Perfect for planting in pots, on patios, and in other places where a small (3-4 feet tall) blueberry bush is desired.
Gypsy Moth Caterpillars and Tent Caterpillars: Use 1 tablespoon Basic H in an Ortho-type sprayer. Or use 1 tablespoon in a 16-ounce pump spray bottle. Spray caterpillars and watch them die in seconds. It’s good on the blueberry plants you spray.
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