Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Blueberry bushes in the landscape

Blueberry bushes are a great addition to any landscape. Not only do they provide a delicious fruit, they are also beautiful shrubs. Best of all they are one of the easiest fruits to grow successfully without pesticides and are full of antioxidants.
Blueberries are great by themselves fresh, on cereal, in pies, and in Margaret Snider’s blueberry ice-cream. Blueberry pancakes, blueberry coffeecake, and fresh blueberry muffins were always my favorite way to eat them, but Sandy Laughter’s blueberry pound cake might be my new favorite.
The Rabbiteye Blueberries (Vaccinium ashei) are the best variety for our area, the piedmont. Rabbiteye Blueberries get their name from the unripe fruit, it a light color with pink on the end of the berry making it look like a rabbit’s eye. They produce large berries over a long season. When choosing a plant, choose two or more varieties to get better pollination (more fruit) and it can spread your season out.
When planting blueberries, you should always add compost to the soil. It is best to add about 4” of rotted pine sawdust, rotted pine chips, manure, leaf mulch or anything else that is fully composted to the area that you are planting in. This should be a 4’x 4’ or 4’ the full length of the row. The mulch needs to be tilled in about 8” deep. If this is not practical, you can add compost over a 2’ area and mix it in with a shovel buy turning it as you dig.
Blueberries can be planted in groups or rows. They also make nice boarders. My aunt planted a row between her and her neighbor behind her house. It is a beautiful boarder between the yards. They have nice white blooms in the spring and turn shades of red in the fall. She picks the blueberries on her side and her neighbor picks the other side. Just make sure when you plant blueberries you have a different variety within 100’ for good pollination. I recommend planting 3 varieties – an early season such as Premier, a mid season such as Tiff Blue, and a late season such as Brightwell. This will give you a longer season.
Don’t forget about the birds. If you enjoy watching bird around your yard, blueberry bushes are a great attractant for birds. Birds not only love the fruit, but the shrubs make cover for birds to hide in and are good nesting spots for some small birds.
Now is the time to plant blueberry bushes between September and April. Even if you don’t like the fruit, blueberry bushed are and all around great shrub to use in your landscape.

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