|Blueberry fruit ripens gradually, giving you weeks of berries|
If you tell me you don't have enough sun to do it, I will understand. Blueberries do need about 6 hours of sun (either morning or afternoon) to set blooms. But that would be your only excuse! All the other reasons you can think of won't work:
- clay soil (nope, they're fine with that)
- lazy gardener, don't want to spray for bugs (nope, pests are not a problem)
- want ornamental plants only (nope, they are good looking and have great fall color)
- hate fresh fruit (oh, well perhaps you have me on that)
|The flowers are beautiful in early spring|
I have five bushes now. Two were planted in 2004 and the other 3 in 2008. Before you plant some, here are some things you need to know:
- blueberries are native shrubs (Vaccinium spp.) that are pollinated by native bees
- nurserymen have cultivated these natives into berry producing machines
- UGA has created a home blueberry growing publication that is very helpful for gardeners throughout the state
- blueberries benefit from cross-pollination so you need to get at least two different names
- be aware that there are early, mid and late season blooming ones - so pick ones that work together (two early ones or two mid-season ones, etc.)
- they love being mulched and lightly fertilized by compost
This was my first year attempting to cook with them. My brother suggested using them to make jam while we were picking a large amount. We combined fruit and sugar in a 2:1 ratio (2 cups of fruit to one cup of sugar) and cooked it for 45 minutes. It was delicious and easy!
I continue to eat a few ripe ones each time I pass the bushes, but I suppose the birds will get the last few berries. Soon the butterflies will lay eggs on the leaves and caterpillars will appear - it often happens in late summer. The birds will eat those too. The remaining leaves will turn bright red in the fall, pretty enough to rival any of those foreign burning bushes!
So think about having some blueberry bushes. You'll like them and the bees and birds will too!