2 October 2015

2 October 2015

how to grow blueberries

Planting blueberries

  • Blueberries are the queen of berry fruits as they have no thorns, they’re not invasive, there’s no need for support or spraying and you can grow them in any climate.
  • But the essential requirement for growing blueberries successfully is an acidic soil of pH4-5.
  • They grow to about 180cms and you’ll need to put posts in and net them to keep birds out, so they’re really best grown in a bed of their own.
  • If you don’t have this much space, try growing a blueberry bush in a container.
  • Find a sunny site and add compost to the soil to create a bed rich in organic matter. If you squeeze a handful of soil and it sticks together, that’s a good sign.
  • If you want to be sure you’ve got the pH level down enough, you can buy a pH kit to test it.
  • Rob increases the acidity of the soil using peat moss (blueberries’ natural growing environment), elemental sulphur (Flowers of Sulphur is also fine) and coffee grounds.
  • The addition of volcanic rock dust encourages good root growth.
  • Mix this all into the soil with a spade or fork using a washing machine action.
  • The two main types of blueberries grown in New Zealand are Highbush and Rabbiteyes. Rabbiteyes are more commonly sold in garden centres because they’re evergreen and more attractive. The advantage of a deciduous variety like Highbush is that if a plant gets diseased it’s more likely to shed the disease with the leaves.
  • Blueberries are self-fertile but will pollinate better with more than one variety and you’ll have a longer harvest season as different varieties ripen at different times.
  • Buy plants locally to suit your conditions.
  • Once your plants are in, it’s important to mulch. Blueberries need constantly moist growing conditions.
  • Rob mulches with pine needles as they’re acidic. Well-rotted sawdust is acidic too and is a good mulch. But any mulch is better than no mulch.
  • Blueberry shrubs last for up to 20 years.
  • There’s no need to prune in the first two years until they get up to their maximum height of around 180cms. But cut out any dead wood.
  • In order to create good strong shrubs, you’re best to remove the flowers for at least the first year. That way all the plant’s energy goes into establishing itself, rather than fruit production.

Chitting potatoes and kumara

Camera: Jarod Murray
Editor: Thomas Asche
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