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Why You Should Plant Blueberries for Your Health and Your Pocketbook

Why You Should Plant Blueberries for Your Health and Your Pocketbook

Food production and prices are directly tied to the cost of energy. It requires energy to till the ground, 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 in from Mexico when local farmers can grow them? Even better you can grow some in your own yard or patio. One simple change that is possible for the future is growing some food crops locally. Most homeowners should grow 4 or 5 edible crops locally from a nutritional and economic standpoint. Of these, the front-runner would be blueberries. One of the most delightful things about growing blueberries is the anticipation it provides of delicious healthy fruit.

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 an excellent plant that can be grown in containers as well as in your landscape.

2. Health – Blueberries are one of the most healthy 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 intake and control your cost.

3. Beautiful. The flowers on blueberries are delightful. The red fall color is beautiful. The colorful blueberry bushes in under certain sunlight conditions or against an early snowfall can be a glorious experience. They can be used to beautify your landscape while at the same time providing an eatable crop.

4. Tolerant of a wide range of soils. The different varieties can be planted on any organically fertilized soil and planted in the right growing zone. The pH needs to be between 4.2 and 5.1 with lots of organic matter. Raised beds in some cases may need used by building up the soil to insure 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 insects problems. Caterpillars can be a problem on blueberries. They can produce defoliation as a result you may 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 won’t bite where Basic H has been applied. Apply Basic H full strength or diluted and spray on and rub in (but not over other chemicals/medication on skin). Insects won’t bite where Basic H has been applied. Also relieves itching of insect bites (rub on, full strength)

7. Disease resistant. Standing water can cause root rot but this can be solved by using raised beds to insure good drainage. There isn’t a major disease that affects blueberries.

8. Long harvest season. By planting early, mid-season and late ripening varieties you can have fresh blueberries throughout the season.

9. Easy to store. Blueberries can be stored for 2 weeks in the refrigerator with no problem. For some varieties six weeks in the refrigerator is also possible. You can also freeze them for year around use.

10. Multiple uses. Fresh blueberries can be put on cereal. Make a great blueberry pie. You can process them and make jam from 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 purchase blueberry plants
One of the questions is that is often ask is where to purchase blueberry plants. Purchase your plants from a reputable nursery. The best buy is two-year-old 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. Rabbiteye blueberries are not self-fertile and at least two varieties that flower at about the same time are need for cross-pollination.
Tifblue is considered one of the best rabbiteyes. The Tiftblue blueberries are among the most flavorful rabbiteye blueberries. Tifblue is more cold hardy than most rabbiteye blueberries varieties. It should be the predominant variety in any planting.

Ozarkblue – Ozarkblue is a favorite variety. It is not bothered by heat, does not need as much irrigation, resists spring frosts and never needs protection, and is highly productive of the highest quality berries. It is their mid/late crop, just before the rabbiteyes.
Hannah’s Choice – Hannah’s Choice is an early-ripening high-bush blueberry plant. May be the best flavor of all early ripening central-northern high-bush 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 amounts of truly superior fruit

Sunshineblue – This self-pollinating southern high-bush produces smallish fruits of good quality, and exhibiting a long shelf-life. Perfect for planting in pots, on patios, and in other areas where a small (3-4 feet high) blueberry bush is wanted.

Gypsy Moth Caterpillars and Tent Caterpillars: Use 1 tablespoon Basic H in Ortho-type sprayer. Or use 1 tablespoon in 16-ounce pump spray bottle. Spray caterpillars and watch them die in seconds. Is good on the blueberry plants that you spray.