After my recent post about veg that is great for shady places, Mark from the super Vertical Veg commented that he’d found blueberries excellent in partial sun.
This was timely, as payday is on the horizon, and I was pondering treating myself to a nice blueberry bush. Ailsa is half American, and having spent time there as a child, is dead keen on the little blue fruit.
Grow Two Varieties Together
Mark also suggested growing more than one variety together to increase yields, and I decided to mix an early and a late variety. This should hopefully leave me sprinkling blueberries on my morning cereal all summer. However, being a blueberry novice, I needed more help and turned to the wonders of the World Wide Web.
Plant the Bushes in Acidic Soil
The Grow Your Own Forum was full of good advice, as usual. The first nugget of info was that blueberries like acidic soil, so growing them in a pot or container is the best idea. A great tip from the forum is to heavily mulch the bushes in pine needles every year.
Grow Early and Late Fruiting Varieties
For the early crop, Duke was recommended for its prolific June cropping, although the fruits were said to be smaller, but given that the bushes are likely to be in my garden rather than the allotment, I preferred the idea of more decorative Patriot and Earliblue. These bushes produce attractive scented white flowers in spring, and a fiery red autumn foliage. Bung them in a nice pot, and it sounds like they’d double up as a pretty feature.
For late fruiters, forum favourites were Darrow, which produces large fruits that are difficult for the blackbirds to nick; and Chandler, another big berried bush.
If I’m feeling like really splashing the cash, I could also squeeze a midseason bush in, like Bluecrop. This is another variety that produces white flowers and colourful foliage.
Where to buy Blueberry Bushes?
Thompson & Morgan stock a full season collection of three bushes in 1.5l containers. They cost £29.99, but I’ll have to wait a year before getting some fruit.
The best tip I got, however, was from Michelle, of Veg to Veg. She put me on to the Dorset Blueberry Company, who sell three-year-old, ready-to-crop bushes at really reasonable prices.
Their website is full of useful tips and information, and if you don’t know exactly what you’re after, you can let them choose the bushes for you. At the moment, two bushes are on offer at £30, with Jennifer Trehane’s new book on blueberries thrown in free for good measure.
After much deliberation, I’m going to plump for the early Patriot, and Ozarkblue for my latest, since it got such a glowing report from Karl.
It could take five or so years (and some TLC) before I get bumper harvests, but fruit bushes and trees are a long term investment. With some luck, I will pick a few berries this summer, and of course, being in containers we’ll get to take our bushes with us when we finally get that little smallholding we dream of!