Celebrate National Blueberry Month with Recipes, and Planting Tips
Pancakes, tarts, pies, we love adding blueberries to any recipe. And we’re not alone. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recognizes July as National Blueberry Month! If any fruit deserves its own month, it’s the all-American blueberry.
Take advantage of peak fruiting season to celebrate this delicious little berry.
Not only delicious and popular, blueberries are one of the top 10 healthiest foods.
These nutritional powerhouses are packed with antioxidants that help guard against cancer and heart disease. Blueberries are low in calories, but rich in fiber and vitamins. One serving of blueberries serves up almost 25 percent of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C. Plus, blueberries have a favorable impact on blood sugar regulation in persons already diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Convinced? Now it’s time to start growing your own blueberries. Follow with these simple tips to help bushes flourish year after year!
How to Have Planting Success
First, plant the right variety. Compact, ornamental blueberry shrubs, like those from BrazelBerries®, are perfect for growing in containers, raised beds or even directly in the garden. They’re simple to grow, beautiful in landscapes and delicious to eat.
Once you’ve chosen a blueberry bush, plant it in a sunny spot with at least six hours of sun each day.
Next, consider the soil. Blueberries love acidic soils. A pH of 4.5-5.5 is ideal. A simple soil test indicates acidity, which can easily be adjusted with a balanced organic fertilizer. Soil kits and amendments are available at any local garden center.
Give the plant’s roots plenty of growing room when planting in a container. Plant bushes in pots 16” or more in diameter and water deeply and regularly to make sure all of the soil within the pot is moist.
Caring for Your Blueberry Shrub
Cutting branches off any plant can be daunting, but it’s best for the plant. Pruning gives berries more space between branches, allowing air to flow freely and preventing disease.
The best time to prune blueberries is in late winter when the plants are still dormant.
Fertilizing is recommended in early and late spring. Choose a balanced, organic, slow-release fertilizer, such as Espoma’a Holly-tone, for acid-loving plants.
A little protection ensures your blueberry bush will thrive for another bountiful season. Keep critters away by covering bushes with bird netting in the spring.
Winter weather poses the biggest risk to berry bushes. Apply a thick layer of mulch around the base of the bush to protect its roots.
Blueberries in pots are easiest to protect from the cold — just move the pots into an unheated garage or against a building and cover with thick mulch, burlap or a blanket.
The Fun Part – Picking!
With planting and pruning in the bag, the next step — picking — is the pay off. Be sure to keep an eye on your berries and pick them before the birds do! Or, we suggest buying one berry for yourself and one for the birds.
Berries are delicious in cereal, oatmeal, pancakes and pies. And, they are great frozen, too. Wash, dry and place them in an air-tight plastic bag. Store them in the freezer for up to 6-months.
Here are some more ideas to help you enjoy July’s blueberry bounty:
- Try a twist on traditional pie with Whole Foods delicious Blueberry Sour Cream Pie.
- Puree with a squeeze of orange juice, a little mint and a favorite spice or two for Southern Living’s surprising blueberry soup.
- Add them to smoothies. Freeze to make popsicles.
- Make a leafy green salad, toss with blueberries, nuts and lemon vinaigrette.
- Stir blueberries into hot cooked couscous, rice, quinoa or any favorite hot cooked grain.
- Got company coming? They will forever remember your number if you serve them a Blueberry and Pine Nut Nougat.
For more information about organic plant food and potting soils, visit Espoma.com.
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