Gardening TipsWhat you Need to Know When You Don't Have a Green Thumb
All About Blueberries
Growing your own blueberries provides you with a wonderful tasting fruit as well as an attractive plant, making blueberries a good choice for the edible landscape. Blueberry plants are pretty enough to put in the landscape as they offer year round interest. Starting with pretty white flowers in the spring, followed by the glossy blue berries and attractive green summer foliage, that changes into bright red and orange in the fall, and lastly, the colourful bark that is revealed when the leaves fall off. Native to North America blueberries are a relatively easy plant to grow if given the right conditions. They like an acidic soil with a pH of 4.2-5.5. A simple soil test kit available at the garden centre can be used to check the soil acidity. To make the soil more acidic, peat moss or sulphur can be mixed into the soil or pine needles can be used as a mulch. The soil should be well drained and rich in organic matter. Plant blueberries in a sunny to partial shade location. Blueberry plants have a shallow root system and will need to be watered, especially during the time when they are producing fruit, from the time they flower till the berries have ripened. For healthy plants and fruit production, fertilize the plants with a ‘Fruit and Berry’ fertilizer such as 4-19-17. Apply the fertilizer around the drip line of the plant, as this is where the feeder roots of the plant will pick it up. The drip line is the outer edge of the bush where the water drips off the outer leaves. Pruning is done in the spring, before the leaves break out, but is not always necessary
When purchasing Blueberry plants, one in not enough. It is better to purchase at least two different varieties of plants so that they can pollinate with each other, resulting in higher crop yields. Generally each bush with the exception of Patriot, will produce anywhere from 3-7 pounds of fruit each year. Some of the hardy blueberry varieties for the Prince George area are Patriot, North Country, Northsky, Northland, Northblue, Polaris, Hardy blue, and Chippewa.
Patriot : This variety produces an early heavy crop of up to 20 pounds of large, tangy tasting berries each year. It is a low growing bush (1-1.5 meters) that is adaptable to different soils and will tolerate wetter soils better than the other varieties.
North Country : The large, tasty, dark blue fruit makes good preserves. A very hardy, self fruiting, short (50-80 cm) bush that is small and compact with glossy dark green foliage, making it a good choice for containers. If using containers, the containers must be placed in a cool space (just above freezing) over the winter months as the plant will not survive outdoors in a container. Another option would be to take the plant out of the container and plant it in the garden before winter.
Northsky : Produces small, firm, sky blue berries in mid-season, that are very flavourful, similar to the wild blueberries. It is very hardy and is a low compact, densely leaved bush, making it a good container plant.
Northland : Produces large, mid blue fruit with a high sugar content, making them a good choice for jams and baking. It grows 1.2-2 meters tall, and has a nice compact shape, and bright yellow wood, making it nice looking landscape plant.
Northblue : Small 50-75 cm bushy, variety that produces a good sized crop of sweet tasting, fruit, in mid summer. This hardy variety has beautiful fall red colour.
Polaris : Is an early producer that has attractive bell shaped flowers, that give way to sweet, aromatic, light blue, medium sized, firm berries which have good storage capabilities.. Plants grow 1.2 m tall.
Hardyblue : Produces sweet, dark blue fruit, good for baking. Adapts to different soil types including clay, and grows 1.3-1.8 meters tall.
Chippewa : Is a half high compact, upright bush, that grows 1-1.3 meters tall. It produces large sweet, dark blue berries.