While supermarket prices for this fruit can be a bit of a deterrent, learning how to grow blueberries yourself can be a viable yet affordable alternative.
Although blueberries are a popular staple for many desserts and breakfast items, this small fruit also packs a punch when it comes to potential health benefits. In fact, blueberries have the highest antioxidant capacity of all the popular fruits and vegetables, with further research indicating that the berries can also work wonders when it comes to improving heart health, bone strength, skin health, blood pressure, diabetes management, cancer prevention, and mental health.
However, the primary barrier that stands between eating more blueberries is often their price. Blueberry production is capital intensive with high development and labour costs, so the price of blueberries is often higher than what Australian shoppers would ideally like to pay. While they do take a bit of time to master and are known to like specific conditions, learning to grow blueberries at home can help gardeners get the best of both worlds.
The Basics Of Learning To Grow Blueberries
In Australia, blueberries tend to grow best in cooler climates, such as Victoria, Tasmania, southern NSW, southern SA and southern WA. There are also some growing regions in cool spots in southern Queensland, but they generally don’t do well in hot and humid areas.
Although blueberries are considered to be one of nature’s key superfoods, they also make wonderful dwarf hedges and even pot plants. While blueberries are relatively easy plants to grow, a lot of people struggle with them. As always, the answer is in the soil.
As blueberries originated in the humus rich soils of North American forestry, adding organic matter through compost is key when it comes to learning how to grow blueberries successfully. In addition, they also need good drainage, so optimising the health of your soil will also help in this department too.
Blueberries like acidic soil with a low pH level, so aim for figures between 4 to 5.5 when measuring. If necessary, soil pH can be reduced fairly quickly by adding elemental sulphur, aluminium sulphate or sulfuric acid, or other organic materials such as coffee grounds or pine needles. If you’re using pots, select a premium potting mix designed for azaleas and camellias, as this will provide blueberries with the best possible start and the right root conditions.
For those looking to learn how to grow blueberries in a garden or vegetable patch, it’s worth noting that blueberries are shallow-rooted shrubs with fine, fibrous, surface-feeding roots. Blueberries love the consistent moisture that drip irrigation provides, but perfect drainage is also just as important.
Rainwater is ideal for irrigation because it contains few dissolved salts, which is something that blueberries are sensitive to. Blueberries grow best in full sun all year round, but will also grow in partial shade. Spacing varies between cultivars, with the larger-growing varieties reaching up to two metres high and growing almost the same length wide.
When you have a blueberry shrub that you’re ready to introduce to your garden, the best time for planting is between late autumn and spring, when plants are sold bare-rooted and are less likely to suffer from transplant shock than at other times of the year.
Soak the bare-rooted bushes in water for half an hour before planting, and create a planting hole about 15cm wider and deeper than the root system. Water well after planting, ensure they’re well fertilised, and sit tight – blueberries begin cropping at two years, and once the bush is four to eight years old it will produce two to seven kilograms of fruit.
When learning how to grow blueberries – or any vegetable for that matter – it’s crucial to protect them against any unwanted invaders if you want a decent harvest. Although healthy soil is one of the most effective ways to proactively fend off pests and diseases, tackling weeds is a whole other story. Using chemicals on fruit is a big no-no, especially if you plan on consuming your harvest – so what’s the alternative?
Introducing A Safer Way To Spray
Bioweed is an organic, non selective weed killer that works fast on contact with the weed, in order to rapidly desiccate and burn even the most stubborn of plants. It can be used anywhere around the house including garden beds, veggie patches, paths and driveways, and is safe to use around children, animals and even native wildlife.
The best part? Bioweed is the brainchild of well established agricultural leaders greenPRO, and is backed by over twenty years of research and development. Owned and manufactured in Australia, the primary ingredient of Bioweed is actually sustainably sourced pine oil, and is even approved by NASAA, ACO and APVMA for use around organic farms and food production.
If you’re on the hunt for a weed killer that’s safe to use around pets or kids, or simply want to know more about eliminating weeds safely – check out other tips and tricks in our online advice forum, or contact us for any further queries.