The cultivation of blueberries, in recent years, is receiving increasing interest, thanks to the many healing properties of the fruits, rich in antioxidants and vitamin C.
For this reason, the cultivation of blueberries can be a very interesting idea to be implemented in the home garden.
In fact, blueberries can be grown with satisfaction and ease in the garden, because they are resistant to frost and need very little care. They are also perfect for creating hedges and decorating the garden.
Blueberry is a rustic shrub with a bushy habit, characteristic of mountain areas, which produces small and sweet fruits.
It belongs to the family of Ericaceae and the genus Vaccinium and includes about 130 different species.
The best known varieties, and those that we most commonly consume are:
- The American giant blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum), native plant of North America, can reach the height of 1-2 m and blooms in spring with white and pink flowers, and fruits gathered in clusters of black-blue color. It is very resistant to low temperatures and is the most suitable and easiest to grow.
- The blueberry (Vaccinium uliginosum), perhaps the best known and most widespread, is born spontaneously in Europe. The plant is up to 25 cm high and produces red and white flowers and fruits with blue skin and pulp tasteless.
- The blueberry (Vaccinuim myrtillus), a plant of European origin, is between 20 and 40 cm tall and is therefore very suitable as a garden or apartment plant. It has black berries and produces its fruits between July and August.
- The cranberry (Vaccinium vitis idaea), a 10 to 40 cm tall plant with red and bitter berries and white and pink flowers.
Cultivation of Blueberries
The cultivation of blueberries can be easily started, because they are fruits with few pretensions.
All the different varieties of blueberries have similar characteristics and require the same care.
It is possible to start growing blueberries, but this practice is less effective because the seeds are very small and germinate with difficulty. But, if you want to try this technique, it is better to put more than one seed in a jar in early spring, and then maybe separate and transplant the plants that have managed to tick.
It is better to buy a small plant in a nursery and then, to transplant it directly in the garden, between September and May, when the earth is not frozen or very hard. It is necessary to dig a not very deep hole, which can be filled with a handful of peat and a handful of earthworm humus. The young plants are then to be watered with abundance, continuing regularly during the three weeks following the transplant.
Multiplication by Cutting
The best technique for having a blueberry plant is the method of cutting.
- In early spring, it removes a branch from the mother plant.
- Put it in a jar full of sufficiently acidic soil.
- Water often and never let the roots dry out.
- Once germinated, transplant your plant in late summer.
The blueberry plant prefers cold climates and withstands even cold winters with temperatures of -30°C without any problems. It suffers more from heat, but in mountain areas, with cool and mild temperatures, it can also stay in full sun. The important thing is that it is always sheltered from the wind.
The right soil is the only aspect on which the blueberry requires more attention.
Blueberry, like all berries, is a plant that grows well in acidic soil with a pH of 4.5 to 5.3. You can correct the acidity of the soil by adding peat or a little sulfur, but, alternatively, there are also those who simply use coffee grounds, pine needles or oak leaves.
The soil should be lightly calcareous and loose, so as to avoid waterlogging and promote water absorption.
The blueberry plant has a superficial and expanded root system.
It must never lack water, especially in the vegetative and ripening phases of the fruit.
Moreover, blueberries love to keep their roots always cool and, for this reason, a classic natural mulch, with bark, peat and leaves, is a good way to keep the soil moist and also avoid the spread of weeds.
At the time of planting, a soil preparation fertiliser must be carried out, which varies according to the pH of the soil.
Then, in autumn or late winter, before the vegetative restart, it is possible to add nutritive organic substance, such as mature manure, to be spread at the base of the plant.
You can also add sour peat if you need to maintain the right level of acidity in the soil.
In the first year of life, it is to be done on the blueberry plant, a pruning of formation, shallow, which serves to maintain the foliage linear.
From the third year onwards, after the winter, fruiting pruning must be carried out. The central branches intersecting the fruiting branches must be eliminated, so as not to limit the growth of the fruits and to favour a better air circulation.
Moreover, by the end of summer, the dry and sick branches must be eliminated.
Why Blueberries are Good For You
Blueberries are a real elixir of life: rich in vitamins A and C, antioxidants, water and simple sugars. Its properties are innumerable.
They contain citric acid, which has a protective effect on the cells, gamma-linolenic acid, useful to the nervous system, folic acid and anthocyanins that strengthen the connective tissue, improve elasticity and control free radicals. Finally, hydrocinnamic acid neutralizes cancer cells.
In addition, they have a refreshing, diuretic, antioxidant and disinfectant function of the urinary tract.
As if that were not enough, blueberries are good for the eyes, because they promote and increase the rate of regeneration of retinal purpura and improve vision in case of low light.