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Vermont Garden Journal: Blueberries

AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty

Friday, June 7 at 5:57 pm & Sunday, June 9 at 9:35 am   This native American fruit has been grown here for 13,000 years. It has some of the highest levels of anti-oxidants of any fruit we eat and has been known to help prevent urinary tract infections, heart disease and improve night vision.  I just like eating them in pies, muffins and shakes. It's the blueberry!

Blueberries are one of the easiest and most popular small berries to grow in the home landscape. The plants range in size from 1 foot to 6 feet tall making them truly the perfect edible landscape plant.

Grow low bush varieties as ground covers along the front of a perennial flower border. Grow half high varieties such as 'North Country and North Sky under windows along the house foundation. They only grow 3 to 4 feet tall so will never outgrow their location. But if you're looking for blueberry production, grow the high bush varieties in full sun in the yard. Select early, mid and late season varieties to extend the harvest season from July to September. Plant in well drained soil. Blueberry roots are shallow so they benefit from a good organic mulch such as straw or wood chips. Amend the soil with compost and sulfur to lower the pH to below 5. Add 1 to 2 cups of dried coffee grounds around plants to give them a nitrogen boost. Don't worry they won't taste like cappuccino. Protect plants with bird netting placed over them before the berries ripen. Prop up the netting with stakes so you create a little house that makes it easier to get in to harvest and doesn't tear the leaves and fruits when removing the netting. You can even try running reflective tape, scare eye balloons, and hanging old CDs around the blueberries to scare off birds.

Now for this week's tip, with all this wet weather get your slug controls in place. Use beer traps, iron phosphate baits, and even raw sheep's wool around hostas and other plants to protect them.

Next week on The Vermont Garden Journal I'll be talking about poppies. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.

Vermont Blueberries
Basics of Growing Blueberries

Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
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