Rich in antioxidants blueberries can be grown almost anywhere. Two major plant types are either the high-bush or low-bush varieties. Most popular for the home gardener is the high-bush type. I have one high-bush plant that is about thirty years old and it produces ten or more quarts of berries of a size between a dime and a nickel each year.
History Of Blueberries
For many centuries before Europeans came to the Americas the native peoples were gathering the native blueberries for fresh and preserved food and medicinal properties.
Also known as star-berries legend held that the Great Spirit sent the fruit during famine to feed the starving children.
A tea made from the leaves was said to be good for the blood and the juice was used to relieve coughs.
The juice made an excellent dye for coloring baskets and cloth.The dried berries were added to soups or stews or crushed and rubbed on meat for flavor.
A jerky sautauthig ( pronounced saw'-taw-teeg) made from meat and dried berries was eaten year round.
With the help of the Wampanoag Indians the settlers of Plimoth (spelled Plymouth today) in 1620 the pilgrims learned to survive drying and storing blueberries.
They also taught them to plant corn and gather other native plants.
In time the berries became an important food source that was preserved and later canned. A blueberry beverage was an important food staple of the Civil war Soldiers.
The blueberry canning industry began in northeastern U.S.A. in the 1880's.
Delicious Deserts And Snacks
The blue berry has become a very important cash crop for American growers. Ninety percent of the worlds blue berry production is from North America.
Nearly one hundred metric tons of berries are shipped to Iceland each year and five hundred metric tons to Japan. Fifty percent of all blue berry production is dedicated to fresh market.
Many growers open up their farms to U-pick it operations saving buyers and growers alike.
There are three main varieties high-bush, low-bush, and rabbiteye where the end or calyx resembles the eye of a rabbit.
The high-bush have become the most popular for the northern gardener and commercial grower. The high-bush were developed in the early nineteen hundreds by Elizabeth White and Dr. Fredrick Coville from wild high-bush plants have given us the high production large berried bushes we see today. Their breeding work resulted in the plump, sweet, juicy, easy to pick berries we see today.
Please visit a web site dedicated to the White Coville preservation trust.
Yields can be as high as twenty tons per acre.
Basic Growing Instructions
Acid based soils with Ph between 4 and 5 are what is required and will give good yields.
What you need to remember is these plants are native to almost every part of North America high-bush in the northern areas and low-bush in the southern areas.
Dig a hole at least three times the diameter and twice as deep as the root ball or pot that your berry plant came in. Mix one third by volume sphagnum peat moss to the soil from the hole and add a little bone meal and a good organic acidic fertilizer. Put a shovel full of well-rotted horse manure in the bottom of the hole. Plant with a spacing of at least five feet apart and they will fill in and make beautiful, delicious, hedge row.