Blueberries are easy to grow and yummy to eat; two reasons why anyone with a garden should be growing them. In fact, you don't even have to have a garden to grow them; with the right conditions, your blueberry bush will bloom as richly as it does in the garden.
Not only is a blueberry bush the center of attraction of any garden, but it also keeps you loaded with garden-fresh fruit all through the summers. After all, who wants to overpay for those flavorless berries that you get off the rack of a grocery store when you can have as many as you would like free of cost, fresh from your garden.
Whether you're growing blueberries indoors or outdoors, one of the most important factors to secure a good yield is maintaining the best soil conditions, especially the pH level. Keep reading to find out all about indoor and outdoor blueberry farming.
Step 1: Choose the right spot
Find a spot in your garden that gets ample sunlight for best results of your blueberry farming. However, a little shade isn’t too bad for your blueberry plant, either. A location with too little sunlight may reduce the crop yield.
If you live in an unusually hot region, it’s best to plant your blueberries somewhere they’ll receive a little shade during the peak sunlight hours. Additionally, the site should have good drainage and rich in organic matter.
Step 2: Prepare the soil
Blueberries are best grown in acidic soil. pH level 4.5 is the acidity of the soil you will need for planting blueberries. If the land where you'll plant them is naturally acidic, your work is little. However, if the pH level isn't low enough, there are different methods that you can use to bring down the soil's pH level to the desired level. Remember to prepare the ground somewhere in the fall, if you're going to plant in early spring (that’s the best time to grow blueberries).
Ways to lower the soil’s pH:
● Include soil sulfur to the top layers of the soil until the pH lowers to around 4.5. You’ll need to do this step twice a year to maintain acidity.
● Include about 4 inches of acidic peat moss to your topsoil. It will keep the soil acidic for about two years.
● If you already have non-acidic plants in the vicinity, you may not want to lower the pH for the other plants as well. In such cases, it’s best to use an acid fertilizer such as Miracid. Initially, use a mild solution and check the effects on the acidity level on the site.
● Leaf compost, rotted sawdust, or any other kinds of acidic organic matter can also be used to lower the pH.
Step 3: Planting blueberries
Blueberry is rarely grown from seeds. They are usually available for purchase in pots. For bigger and juicier blueberries, purchase two to three different varieties of plants. This will promote cross-pollination and enhance the yield.
Plant the blueberries about 12 inches apart and at the same depth under the soil as it was growing in the container in which you purchased it. The hole in which you plant them should be wide enough to prevent the roots from bending.
Water the plants and include 2 inches of acidic mulch to the surface. Mulching helps maintain the soil’s pH, it’s moisture and also prevents weeds from developing in the area.
Step 4: Plant care
Once you’ve planted the blueberries, they won’t ask for much pampering. Here are a couple of things you’ll need to take care of regularly:
● Pick off any flowers that appear on the blueberry bush, especially during the first year.
● Refresh the fertilizer each spring. Use organic fertilizer recommended for acid-loving plants for maintaining the best conditions for your blueberry bush.
● Mulch regularly, whenever you feel the requirement. The 2-inch depth of mulch that was initially established will need to be maintained.
● Water the bush when the ground is too dry. Make sure that you add enough water for it to soak around 6 inches deep.
Limited gardening space should stop you from growing blueberries. Luckily, some new varieties can be grown indoors in containers. If you wish to grow them indoors, choose dwarf blueberries since they’ll take up little space and will yield quite a bunch to enjoy.
Step 1: Choose a sunny spot
As is the case with outdoor planting, blueberries need plenty of sunlight to thrive. Choose a location next to a window where they’ll get direct sunlight for around 6 to 8 hours every day.
Step 2: Prepare the pot
Next, you'll need to pick a pot large enough for your blueberry plant. Each plant will require a 6-gallon container with a proper drainage system.
As for the soil, they’ll require a pH level of around 4.5, as already discussed. So the usual potting mixture will not work here. You can mix the regular soil with peat moss, sulfur, or pine bark to lower the pH for your blueberry plant.
Step 3: Transferring blueberry plant to the pot
● Once you have the acidic soil ready, fill the pot with one-third of the soil.
● Hold the blueberry plant that you purchased over the soil and fill more prepared potting soil over the roots until they are completely covered.
● Water the plant generously.
● Include a little mulch, such as pine bark or pine needles to the top layer of the soil.
Step 4: Caring for your indoor blueberry
● Water the plant regularly. A gallon of water weekly for each square foot of the root area is the optimal water requirement for your blueberry plant.
● Fertilize the soil with acidic fertilizer as needed to keep the soil nourished and to maintain its pH.
● Regular pruning will be required after a couple of years to keep the bush healthy.
Step 5: Picking the fruit
Now, this is the fun part. In fact, it may be the only reason you went through all this effort. Once your plant starts producing fruit, you'll be able to tell on your own when to pick it. Harvesting time begins somewhere around July to August. Let the fruit turn deep blue. For extra juiciness, let them stay on the tree just a few days after they have fully riped before picking them. But don't wait too long, either!
Click the ling to Check out our blog on Easy Guide for your Urban Garden to learn more about growing in a urban or city setting.