Blueberries, an Easy Crop for Burke

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Everyone likes to grow things, whether they eat the end product or just enjoy its blooms in the garden. But, there is nothing more thrilling than planting, growing, harvesting and then eating a crop that you have grown with your own hands. It is true that not all crops are so easily grown by the amateur gardener but there are lots of crops that are very simple to grow.

A great example would be blueberries. One of the easiest of the small fruits, its long harvest season and abundance of sweet, juicy berries make it a perfect fruit to grow at home. Blueberries need a well-drained soil in a sunny location. They are not prone to diseases and have very few insect problems. There are many varieties that can give early, mid-season and late berries for an entire summer of enjoyment. One mature blueberry plant can yield 2-3 gallons of berries and the whole family can feast off of the “fruits of their labor” with only 3 to 4 bushes.

Blueberries are not self-pollinating, however so it is important to include a good pollinator such as Tifblue in the initial planting. Rabbiteye types do best here in Burke County but there are some new southern highbush cultivars that are also good for Burke County. They make attractive landscape plants also and can be used wherever a large shrub is needed. Blueberries do need some room to grow with a spread of 5 to 6 feet at maturity.

Rabbiteye selections such as Premiere, Climax and Tifblue are well suited to our area. We are also trying out a new southern highbush called Legacy this year. A healthy, two-year-old, one-gallon plant should start having berries in about two years.

If you would like to try some blueberries this year, contact the Extension office at 828-764-9480. We will be taking order through March 4th. Plants will arrive in March, just in time for spring planting. Try growing your own blueberries this year and see if they don’t taste better than anything you’ve ever eaten!