In terms of U.S. fruit consumption, blueberries rank only second to strawberries in popularity of berries. Blueberries are not only popular, but also repeatedly ranked in the U.S. diet as having one of the highest antioxidant capacities among all fruits, vegetables, spices and seasonings. Antioxidants are essential to optimizing health by helping to combat the free radicals that can damage cellular structures as well as DNA.
Blueberries are believed to contain the highest antioxidant capacity of ALL commonly consumed fruits and vegetables .
The main antioxidant compounds in blueberries belong to a large family of polyphenols, called flavonoids.
One group of flavonoids in particular, anthocyanins, is thought to be responsible for much of the beneficial health effects
How to grow them in your garden:
Choose a nice planting spot and prepare your soil
Blueberries prefer acidic soils. A fail-safe way to grow blueberriesin almost any soil is to incorporate peat moss into the planting medium. For planting directly in the ground, work up a planting area approximately 2½ feet in diameter and 1 foot deep for each plant.
Blueberries require a sunny location for full production. Avoid areas surrounded by trees. Trees can provide too much shade, compete with plants for water and nutrients, encourage birds, and inter‑fere with air movement around the plants. Poor air circulation favors the development of diseases.
Give our blueberry bushes enough space
Blueberries can be planted as close as 2-1/2 feet apart to form solid hedgerows or spaced up to 6 feet apart and grown as individual specimens. If planted in rows, allow 8 to 10 feet between the rows depending on equipment used for mowing or cultivating.
Note: Although it requires effort, its helpful to actually TAKE your personally selected lawn chair out to use for good measure between rows.
The planting process
In most areas, it’s ideal to plant in the fall or spring although in many regions you can plant year round.
If you purchased containerized blueberry plants, remove from pot and lightly roughen up the outside surface of the root ball. Mound the plant’s top soil about 1/2 inch higher than the existing ground and firm around root ball. Then mound soil up along sides of exposed root mass and water in well.
When it comes to wreathes, sawdust, rind mulch, grass clippings and acid tripe work best for this purpose. Blueberry bushes have shallow roots, which means wreathes are more than welcomed here.
Add about 2-4 inches of wreathe to preserve the moisture, keep weeds away, and provide organic matter. Repeat the process every year, and remember, you should never use sawdust from cedar and redwood tree.
The objectives of pruning are to remove dead and diseased wood, shape the bush, maintain an adequate number of vigorous main stems to prevent overbearing, and to stimulate new shoot growth. At planting, prune only to remove any broken, dead or dying parts of branches. After the first year, prune the bushes annually in the early spring before growth starts.
Blueberry bushes respond best to 16-8-8 fertilizers. However, if added at the time of planting, it can burn and injure young blueberry bushes. Instead, gardeners should spread the fertilizer according to manufacturer-specific guidelines approximately 30 days after the planting date. After this, fertilizer is applied every year in the spring before the blueberry bush has started producing new growth.
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