June 13, 2010 § 1 Comment
Blueberry bushes at the edge of the womb, some 200 meters from the house
Uploaded by prlwytskofski on 14 Jun 10, 9.38AM PDT.
Blueberries are relatively easy to grow, and the fruits are high in vitamin C. Blueberries are the small fruit of a group of flowering plants of the genus Vaccinium.
Blueberry plants are shallow rooted and require soils that hold moisture well, but are also well-drained. Blueberries require acid soils (pH range of 4.6 to 4.8) and full sunlight for maximum fruit production. Set out plants as early in the spring as possible.
Prepare soils two weeks ahead of planting. Holes are to be two feet across by two feet deep. Place a mixture of equal parts of loam, sand, and organic matter in the holes before planting. If the soil isn’t acid enough, add sulfur, sulfate of ammonia, or another acidic material. Increase the rate of fertilizer per year until mature. At about eight years old the bushes are mature.
Blueberry bushes, especially young ones, suffer starvation if weeds or lawn are too close. Mature blueberry bushes require one to two inches of water each week for best growth and productivity.
Mulching with clean straw, sawdust, or wood chips is recommended. That also holds moisture.
Annual pruning of dead, broken, short or weak shoots is necessary to encourage annual fruit production, and prevents the bushes from overbearing. Cut weak shoots to the ground or to a strong side shoot near the ground to stimulate the sprouting of new canes from the base.
Bushes often must be covered with netting to protect developing berries from birds.
Insects that attack blueberries may be classified into three groups: foliage feeders, sap feeders and fruit feeders.
The foliage feeders can be leafrollers and beetles. Usually they do not much damage and are of little concern.
Sap feeders can be leafhoppers, lice and aphids. Leafhoppers are only important when they transmit blueberry stunt mycoplasma. It is important to remove diseased canes and, if necessary, entire plants that exhibit mycoplasma symptoms. Aphids can be a real problem, covering stems and leaves. Aphids also transmit blueberry shoestring virus. Their natural enemies are among others, ladybird beetles. But because aphids usually reproduce more rapidly than their natural enemies, they become a greater problem when natural enemies are killed by an insecticide. Remove all infected plants, and consider yearly treatment with malathion (Sevin). Malathion is a relatively safe insecticide, with low toxicity to mammals. But, bees are extremely sensitive to it.
Leafhoppers and aphids are attracted to goldenrod yellow and can be caught on a yellow surface covered with a sticky substance.
The blueberry maggot (Rhagoletis mendex) is the chief pest of blueberries in the fruit feeders group. These flies lay eggs in the fruit, hatching into a small white larva, which feeds on the inside of the fruit. After the infested fruit falls to the ground in the fall, the maggot enters the soil, pupates and overwinters. The adult flies leave the soil the next year. Infested fruit is not harmful to eat but has considerably less appeal.
The earlier mentioned mulching around the bases of bushes provides shelter for overwintering insects!
Ants and some wasps provide natural control by their predation on larvae and pupae in the soil. Unfortunately, parasitism and predation do not have a great effect on maggot infestation.
The major diseases are twig blights, and viruses. Planting blueberries in optimal sites and pruning help to prevent these diseases. Fertilizing in spring rather than fall, will decrease chances of encountering these diseases.
Blueberries begin appearing in farmers markets and in grocery store produce departments in early summer and reach their peak in July and August.
Tea of blueberry leaves can be used with intestinal complaints and coughing, and for diabetes. Its dried berries can serve diarrhea and dysentery. Blueberries cooked in red wine (add some cinnamon) are a known remedy against diarrhea. Its tincture is excellent against dysentery; In compresses they work against rashes. Gurgling with blueberry juice works against catarrh and mouth infections; eye infections can be fought with an extraction of its leaves; and blueberries are rich in vitamines that can help fight Cancers and Parkinsons.
- Blueberry Oat Bread
- More to follow …