Want to raise your own organic fruit? Why not start with the easiest and one of the tastiest fruits first?
Blueberries win that contest hands down. Long before edible landscaping was popular, I began exploring ways to raise fruit like blueberries, one of the more expensive products you’ll find in any store.
I put in 12 plants – 4 different varieties and I’ve been harvesting blueberries ever since – 4o to 60 quarts a summer!
That translates to a savings of $500.00 every year and that’s a conservative estimate. That’s $7500 in my pocket for an initial investment of less than $100.00!
You’re probably thinking, “Oh, I don’t have enough space.” or “I can’t grow anything.” Or my favorite, “I don’t know how.” I am here to tell you blueberries are one of the easiest fruits to grow…period. And I’m going to tell you how to do it.
Pick the spot where you will plant them
Even if you are putting them in pots. Why? Two reasons. Blueberries need sunlight and lots of it so pick the sunny side of your house, a sunny spot in your yard or a sunny patch on the deck to plant them. Blueberries also need good
drainage so don’t pick the soggy spot in your yard where nothing ever grows.
Pick the bushes you want to buy
I got mine at Miller’s Nursery (now Stark Brothers) 15 years ago and had to figure it out on my own. But Miller’s has made it even easier to choose, now. They tell you about each plant including how hardy they are, how tall they’ll grow and when they fruit. They even have collections! So whether you’re potting your plants or using them to landscape around your house, it will be easy to get the right ones.
Make sure your dirt is good for their roots. Blueberries like acidic soil – a ph of 4 to 5. Any nursery can help you buy the right dirt if you’re potting. And your local Ag Extension office can test the soil in your yard to see what you have to add. NOTE: I didn’t test; I just planted and all of my bushes survived and grew.
Plant them the right way. For plants, take the plastic pot off, lightly roughen up the outside surface of the root ball. Set the top soil line of the plant about 1-2 inches higher than the existing ground and firm around root ball. Mound soil up along sides of exposed root mass. Water well. For bare root plants, spread roots out wide and shallow, cover with 1/2″ of soil. Firm soil around roots and water well.
This is one of the best ways to ensure your blueberries will “live well and prosper” at your place. Blueberries are shallow rooted. If you don’t mulch, anything from frost, to extreme heat to rabbits can find and damage the roots. But don’t think you have to buy expensive mulch! Use my trick – newspaper and straw. That’s right – Scott and Helen Nearing’s method. It’s cheap, it provides fertilizer because the materials are acid and do break down and it makes my blueberry patch…weed free.
Sit back and watch them settle in and grow!
In an average year, I harvest up to 60 quarts of blueberries. That’s 120 pints and 240 1/2 pints of organic, good for you and good tasting blueberries. I eat them, make low sugar jam (using Pomona Pectin) out of them, freeze them and enjoy them even in the dead of winter!
If you grow your own blueberries, you don’t just save cash, you get all the health benefits that these tiny, blue jewels bring to your table. Blueberries are one of the superstars on the healthy foods list. Only 80 calories per cup and virtually no fat, packed with vitamin C, a ready source of fiber and near the top of the list when it comes to antioxidant activity per serving. How could you resist them?
Bob’s Blueberry Buckle
¾ c sugar
¼ c butter
2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 c blueberries
½ tsp cinnamon
½ c brown sugar
1/3 c flour
¼ c butter
Toss blueberries in a little flour.
Mix all ingredients for cake together.
Stir in blueberries.
NOTE: This is a very, very thick batter. Don’t worry about it. Just pat the cake batter into a 9 inch square baking pan. Sprinkle with topping and bake at 375 for 40 to 45 minutes. While it’s baking, soften the butter and stand back. When it comes out of the oven, there is nothing better than warm blueberry buckle, buried in butter.