Blueberries have recently gained a lot of attention for all of their health benefits, making these delicious treats from the garden even more desirable. Not only are these berries good, but they’re good for you, too! With so much buzz about these berries it’s understandable how they have become the new “it” edible that everyone wants to be able to grow in their own backyard. With our garden tips you’ll have all the know-how to grow delicious berries that are the envy of your friends and a sweet treat with any meal.
Blueberry 101 – Blueberry Basics
The blueberry is actually a native North American, which explains why they are such successful growers in our gardens. These tasty treats were discovered thousands of years ago and have been a popular snack since. Their humble beginnings are a bit of a contrast from their science-focused superfood status now, but now we’re able to appreciate all of their delicious flavors while also knowing that they are full of vitamin C, can help to lower blood pressure, and could even slow the growth of cancer cells!
Blueberry plants boast gorgeous fall foliage, grow tasty and healthy berries, and attract very few insects. They are also easy to maintain and don’t have the prickly thorns that other garden berry bushes have. And while they are self pollinating and you can make do with a single bush, you’ll enjoy a much more bountiful summer if you have more than one plant.
The Best Soil for Blueberries
Blueberries are acid lovers, and this is often the biggest stumbling block for gardeners looking for a delicious blueberry harvest. These plants like a soil pH of 4.5 to 5, which is considerably lower than normal soil, but easy to achieve.
The process is best started before you plant a new blueberry bush so that you can build your soil properly. Start with blending a generous serving of peat moss into your soil so that it is at a 1:1 ratio with dirt in your planting area. Peat is naturally acidic, so mixing in lots is a great way to quickly lower the pH while providing excellent drainage. While a healthy amount of peat is good, don’t plant in straight peat, as you’ll get so much drainage that you’ll be watering your bush more than the rest of your garden.
Testing your soil pH is super simple, and a great way to be exact about your soil amendments. Simply pick up a test kit from our gardening center to find out where your pH is. If you need to lower it even further, or are looking to lower the pH around an existing plant, consider using sulphur, coffee grounds, or pine and spruce needles on the surface to dip a bit further to the acidic side.
Tips for the Best Blueberries:
We all want to have delicious blueberries that are the talk of the neighbourhood, and a sweet treat as a snack or in deserts. We have some tips from the most successful blueberry growers so that you, too, can have a truly impressive crop:
- As tempting as it is, you’ll want to restrict your blueberry harvest in your first year after planting. Pinch off all of the blooms so that your bush can focus its efforts in establishing healthy roots, so that all of your harvests are better for the rest of the plant’s life. It’s a sacrifice worth making for the long-term benefits.
- Blueberries grow best in acidic soil that is well-drained but consistently moist. While the right peat mix is the first step to this, mulching under the drip line will keep their shallow roots from drying up in the summer heat and lock in more consistent moisture all season.
- Stay away from the pruners for the first 2 years while your plants are still getting established. These bushes can live up to 100 years, so you’ll have plenty of time with delicious harvests to enjoy. After the initial 2 years, trim off 1-3 of the oldest shoots per year to keep your plant healthy and vibrant.
- Be patient. These bushes are slow growing and long living, so understanding that the first year or two of harvest will be just a nibble is all part of the process. After a few years of getting established, though, you’ll have enough berries to be making pies and dropping off bushels of berries to all of your friends and neighbours.
Blueberries are nature’s treat and we can’t help but want to take part in our own backyards. With a couple of our best tips and tricks you’ll have a blueberry bush bursting with berries and ready to be nibbled on all season.