How do blueberries grow in my garden when there seems to be so much stacked against them? For the last few years, I have been enjoying homegrown blueberries. Not an easy accomplishment in my yard. Crazy weather patterns, storms, hot humid summers, and puppies. Yes, puppies! I found out why the bushes were shedding so many leaves this summer. The puppies were lying next to them chewing on the leaves and tender branches.
How Do Blueberries Grow and Why You Should Know!
Blueberries prefer soil that is acidic, with lots of organic matter. Mix in plenty of peat moss or compost to make your blueberries happy. Good drainage is important of course. When I was learning how do blueberries grow, I found out that fertilizing should be done early in the spring. The water need of the blueberry bush is moderate to heavy. Mulching the base of the plants can help conserve moisture.
Pruning is the task I often overlooked when I was learning how do blueberries grow. I learned that the blueberries grow each year on the new canes. After the season, prune these new canes back, giving the plant a chance to grow new canes the next year. In other words, pruning helps the plant provide more delicious blueberries. Pruning becomes necessary in year three after the roots have become established.
Blueberries are packed with antioxidant nutrition, vitamins, and fiber. The tiny little powerhouses can be stored and preserved in so many ways and are one of the best survival foods to store. That reason alone is a good point when deciding which berries to grow. Growing blackberries, strawberries or raspberries are other popular berries gardeners choose to grow. Berries are versatile additions to fruit choices. When you learn how do blueberries grow, you can add blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries with the same knowledge. Berries are great to add to whole grain cereal and fresh bread. Don’t forget that eating them fresh from the garden is totally appropriate too!
Growing Conditions for Blueberry Bushes
Blueberry bushes are fairly hardy and acclimate well to many gardening zones. Garden zones five through 10 are the most likely candidates the for successful growth of blueberries. The blueberry plant will overwinter successfully in many zones. Mulching the base of the plant, and even covering with a sheet or piece of burlap can help the plant get through winter storms and cold weather. Certain varieties are more adaptable to winter than others.
The berry bush will need a friend or two in order to pollinate well. Given the right conditions, your plants will show you pretty foliage even when not producing berries.
When to Harvest Blueberries
Summer fruit salads can include blueberries because that is their peak season. The small blue fruit contains a burst of sweetness that can be added to many recipes or enjoyed as you walk through your garden.
Try a few ways of preserving your blueberry harvest for later. Some popular ways to preserve blueberries or any fruits include canning jams, jellies, freezing, dehydrating and freeze-drying. Each method has its own merits and necessary equipment.
Canning Method for Blueberries
Since almost all fruits are acidic in nature, water bath canning can be used to preserve the blueberries. Blueberry jam can also be preserved by water bath canning.
Dehydrating or Freeze Drying
Dehydrating and freeze drying are two different ways of preserving food that people often think are the same thing. Both are acceptable methods of preserving blueberries for later but the process is completely different.
Dehydrating uses air and low heat to remove the moisture from the berries. Blueberries preserved this way can be stored in an airtight container and will maintain viable freshness for at least one year, and often, much longer. Dehydrating can be accomplished without any equipment but since it is hard to control the temperature, sunlight, and humidity, the product can develop mold while drying. Using a purchased dehydrator makes the process much more consistent and the result better for storing.
Freeze drying might not be as familiar an option. The technical term for freeze drying is lyophilization. Making a freeze dryer at home would be tedious and time-consuming.
How Does Freeze Drying Work?
Freeze drying uses vacuum pressure to remove water after the product has been frozen. Technically, freeze-drying uses three separate processes according to the FDA definition of the preserving method. Freezing, primary drying, and secondary drying are cycled through until all the moisture is removed from the food.
Cooked food can also be freeze dried. After cooling, place it on the trays in the freeze drying unit and start the machine! Fresh foods, such as fruits and vegetables should be washed first. Blanching the vegetables first helps remove unwanted gasses from the vegetables and yields a better storage product. Fruits can generally just be washed and sliced if necessary. Since we are talking about preserving our blueberry harvest, wash the berries and pop them onto the trays! Let the machine do the rest of the work for you. Storage time with freeze drying is much longer than any other method of food preservation.
Freezing Small Berries
The freezing method of preserving blueberries is simple, fast and does an excellent job of preserving blueberries, and other small berries. Here’s a commonly used tip that keeps your berries from sticking together in a clump as they freeze.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Wash and drain the berries well. Place the berries on the baking sheet, leaving a small amount of space between each berry. Slip the tray carefully into the freezer. Give the berries time to freeze completely. After the berries are frozen, transfer to freezer containers or freezer bags and immediately return to the freezer. Now when you need a cup or two of berries, you can simply dip out what you need and return the rest to the freezer without having a clumpy mess of berries. This method works well for baking or defrosting for garnish or eating.
Learning about how do blueberries grow leads you to delicious eating all year through. Plant, grow, harvest, preserve, and care for your blueberry plants. They will reward you with delicious berries!