Plump, juicy, bluish-purple fruits, with little bit of a tang that bursts with flavor in a salad, smoothie, or simply eaten raw are some of my kids, all time favorites. Introducing the star of my landscape – the beautiful, bountiful blueberries!
As winters in my area are short, the key is to choose varieties that require low chill aka South bush varieties. Choose different varieties for a continuous harvest, varied flavor, and cross pollination.
Varieties for Zone 9a
The ones I am growing currently are highlighed in blue.
- Early harvest (May – June)
- Jubilee. Does OK in heavy soils.
- Misty. Excellent yield.
- Mid (June-July)
- Monrovia’s Bountiful Blue – Compact bush – 3ft.
- Sharp blue. Compact bush – 4ft.
- Mid – late (July)
- Legacy – Its a northern bush variety. However, I decided to experiment it anyways, and seen good results.
- Soil condition: blueberries love highly acidic soil, thriving in the range of 4.5 to 5.0. I recommend plating in containers to control the acidic environment. Peat moss is your best friend. A good potting mix for a half wine barrell is: 1 part organic potting mix, 1 part peat moss or coco coir, 3 big scoops perlite for water retention, 2 big scoops of cottonseed meal / azalea ferilizer / acidic fertilizer.
- Feeding – every month during the growing season. Good options are cottonseed meal, pine needles, fir bark, fir saw dust, azalea fertilizer. Remember peat moss / coco coir doesn’t have nutrition by itself, so you will need to amend it during the growing season.
- Mulch – very important to protect delicate roots and prevent weeds. Peat moss dries in heat, so its important to mulch. Use 4-6 inches of pine needles, saw dust, fir bark etc.
- Plant more than one variety, for successful cross pollination and continuous supply.
- Pests and competitors: Free of diseases, except for powdery mildew. Prune for ventilation. Birds love them as much as kids do. Add netting to protect your bounty.
- Pruning: Minimal pruning. Simply remove dead twigs and shape as needed for improved air circulation.
- Containers: Resounding yes! All of mine are in containers. I highly recommend especially if your soil is alkaline. Choose a container that is atleast 18″ wide and 18″ deep.
- Harvest: Pick when firm, plump and ripe.
- Watering: Now this is very important. They are shallow rooted, and roots could dry quickly in the heat. Make sure they are regularly watered, deep watering atleast 2 times a week, especially during flowering and fruiting season.
Ideas to incorporate in your edible garden
- As a beautiful hedge. With pretty white flowers in spring, and beautiful fall foliage in autumn, its sure to delight. It gives excellent color to your landscape and food for you.
- In Containers: Plant them in half wine barrells or pretty containers for depth, color and interest to your landscape. Choose one that is atleast 20″ wide and 15-20″ deep.
How I grow mine
- My soil is alkaline and heavy clay. Half wine barrells filled with straight out peat moss and fertilizer works best for me. I planted two plants in each container. Ideally, one plant per container is preferred. I mulched them with fir saw dust.
- I have a total of 14 blueberry plants, added over a span of 2 years. Most of them were purchased at my local Home Depot, some from Peaceful valley supply farm, and Alden Lane nursery. They all have been very productive since first year of planting, despite the high heat that touched 109 deg last summer.
- We added irrigiation for consistent supply of water, and simply follow my lawn watering schedule. I’ll write a separate post of the irrigation systems we built over time.
- They are all in my front yard, following the curvature of landscape in the NE section of my yard. This gives them adequate morning heat, and protection from harsh late afternoon sun.
- They blend extremely well in my landscape, with a backdrop of beaded iris. They provide color and interest most months of the year. Best of all, they are edible!
You wont regret adding a couple of blueberry plants to your edible garden this year. Incorporate them in your existing landscape and you are sure to be rewarded!
Be sure to share your experiences. Happy edible gardening!
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