Growing blueberries in the suburbs
It is known that blueberries are the northern berry growing in forests, in the mountains and in marshy areas. But not everyone knows that for several decades it has been successfully grown both for industrial purposes and in garden plots of gardeners who have already managed to acquire culture. Moreover, new varieties are able to adapt to different climatic regions, including the conditions of the Moscow region.
The initial step in growing blueberries is to plant properly. First of all, you need to decide when it is best to plant - in spring or autumn. If we talk about the features of landing in the suburbs, it is better to choose the autumn period. Frosts come to this region quite late, so that the seedlings will have time to take root. If you plant blueberries in the spring, there is a risk that the return frosts characteristic of the region may destroy young plants.
Seat selectionFor planting blueberries you need to choose a well-lit area. It is advisable that the culture is not disturbed by strong winds, which will provoke brittle branches and the fall of ripe berries. The site should have an average level of humidity. Do not rely on the fact that in nature blueberries grow in swamps - and there it “chooses” territories on higher elevations. Overmoistening can lead to serious illness.
Be careful when planting shrubs in a summer cottage in a young garden. The surrounding trees at the initial stage will not create a shadow, but over time they will grow up, and a lush crown will close the sun's rays from blueberries, as a result, the bushes will have to be replanted.
Soil preparationBlueberries are not picky about the soil composition - even the poorest soil is quite suitable for it, but it is better to make adjustments to improve yield. Experienced gardeners before planting change the composition of the soil - remove its top layer to a depth of about 20 cm and fill the site with a mixture of peat, river sand and pine needles collected in the forest. Sand and needles are taken in equal proportions, and peat should be 5 times larger.
Acidic soils are preferred for the culture. Rather, not even for herself, but for the mycelium of the fungus, which braided the roots of blueberries. Fungal spores take from the soil all the necessary nutrients and transfer them to the shrub, and he, in turn, feeds the fungus with his juice. The lack of acid negatively affects the vital activity of the mycelium, which affects the plant itself.
Did you know? The most popular blueberries received in the United States and Canada. There are 20 festivals held annually, where they exhibit many dishes prepared with this berry.
Before planting, it is advisable to acidify the soil: you need to dilute in a bucket of water 50–70 g of 9% vinegar essence - this is enough for 1 m². Instead of acid, you can use sulfur (40-60 g per 1 m²) or dilute 2 tbsp. tablespoons of citric acid in a bucket of water.
Landing pitThere are two ways to plant blueberries - in a trench or in a separate landing pit. If we are talking about one or more bushes, it is more convenient to dig holes. Each of them should have a depth of about 30-40 cm and a diameter of half a meter. The distance between landings should be at least 1.5 m.
A layer of polyethylene is laid at the bottom of the landing pit, which will block the natural soil of the site. Now you need to fill up the soil composition with horse peat, which was mentioned earlier.For planting, choose 2-year-old seedlings, it is desirable that they be with a closed root system. The bush must be planted in a pit and spread the roots in a horizontal direction. It is sprinkled with soil, abundantly watered (8-10 liters of water) and mulched with sawdust, pine bark.
Outdoor landingBlueberries can also be planted in open ground - this is usually done with a trench landing. To do this, dig a ditch 50 cm wide and about 40 cm deep. The length will depend on how many bushes it is planned to plant, since the distance between them should be at least 1.2 m.
Important! If planting is supposed to be on a site with a close occurrence of groundwater or close to wetlands, you need to plant blueberries not in trenches, but on ridges. To do this, form a long hill, rising to 20–30 cm above the surface of the soil.
The subtleties of care
Even if you planted blueberries in compliance with all the rules, this does not mean that the culture will take root well, and over time will yield a large crop. We still have to work on this, providing the bushes with proper care.
WateringOne of the important points in growing garden blueberries is maintaining soil moisture. If the spring turned out to be rainy, you can do without additional watering. Otherwise, you need to water the blueberries 2-3 times a week, delivering 8-10 liters of water under each bush. Particularly careful watering should be treated in the summer, when arid weather is established.
Good soil moisture in July and August will provide a good harvest not only of the current year, but also of the next, as moisture helps to establish new flower buds. During this period, blueberries need to be watered 2 times a week, and twice a day after lunch. A portion of one watering for a bush is 10 liters. On especially hot days, you can add evening spraying, which will reduce the stress of the plant from overheating and accelerate the processes of photosynthesis.
To maintain soil moisture, it is mulched. For blueberries, it is better to use rotted coniferous sawdust and pine bark as a mulching material. Such a shelter will not only save moisture and protect the soil from overheating, but also “slow down” the budding of buds in the spring, helping to cope with temperature fluctuations.
Fertilizer selection and top dressing
Mineral fertilizers are ideal as fertilizers for blueberries: complex formulations can be purchased at the store. One of the best is the Polish Florovit fertilizer (30 g per 1 m²), which contains many nutrients and is completely free of nitrates. You can also independently prepare a composition of 100 g of superphosphate, 50 g of potassium sulfate and 60–70 g of ammonium sulfate (dose per 1 bush).
Bushes are fed in spring, summer and autumn to improve growth and fruiting. The first top dressing in the spring is carried out in mid-April and repeated 3 times with an interval of a week. In summer, blueberries are fertilized after flowering to increase the quality and sugar content of the fruit. In autumn, after harvesting, it is advisable to feed the bushes in order to restore their strength, which will be needed for laying new flower buds and a safe wintering. Before fertilizing, the soil needs to be well watered - so the compounds will begin to absorb more quickly into the soil.
Important! Blueberries can not be fed with organic fertilizers — they neutralize the acidity of the soil needed by the plant.
If it is noticed that an adult bush of blueberries began to grow young stems poorly, they actively feed it to improve growth. Top dressing begins at the end of March, and is repeated every week for 2 months. For this, complex mineral fertilizers are used, for example, such as Fertika, Nitroammofoska (200 g under 1 bush). Together with one of these fertilizers, under each bush you can add 100 g of superphosphate and potassium sulfate and 120 g of ammonium sulfate.
Pruning rulesGarden blueberries require periodic pruning. Although disputes often arise between gardeners around this issue, according to researchers at the Central Botanical Garden, this process is necessary for the culture, as it directly affects its growth, development and duration of fruiting.
Bushes are subject to pruning, starting from the age of three. Throughout the growing season from the bush you need to cut weakened, diseased and lying on the ground shoots. Upright shrubs (Patriot, Jersey, etc.) need to be thinned out so that thickening does not form, and the plants receive a lot of light. In sprawling blueberries (Hardiblou, Coville, Duke), on the contrary, cut off the outer, overgrown, tilted branches.
Once a year, the main pruning is carried out - in spring or autumn. In the Moscow region, autumn is considered the most favorable time. The fact is that spring pruning needs to be done before the buds on the bush begin to bloom, and since the winter is sometimes quite warm in this region, you may not have time to carry out the procedure.In the fall, pruning begins in early October. The bush is cleaned of weak, damaged fragments. In addition, it is necessary to cut off all young, highly branching shoots on the upper stems, since she will not survive the winter frosts, but will feed on the plant sap before they occur, making the roots weaker. You also need to trim basal bushy growths.Blueberries have the property of quickly letting out the root shoots, “spilling out” over the site, and its timely removal will prevent this. Every 3-4 years, a rejuvenating “haircut” of the shrub should be carried out. Absolutely all stems are cut on it to enable the young strong growth to develop.
PollinationBlueberries are self-pollinating crops, however, if you want to increase productivity and increase the size of berries, it is better to use cross-pollination. To do this, on the site you need to plant several bushes of different varieties. For the conditions of the Moscow Region, you can choose such frost- and drought-resistant tall varieties as Patriot, Blucrop, Elizabeth.
The best pollinating insects are bumblebees. To attract them to the site, it is advisable to leave an area with mowed grass near the bushes - insects form their nests in it. Pollinate blueberries and bees. You can get 2-3 hives to increase their numbers. Bees are most active in hot weather, so hives are best left in the sun.
Disease and Pest Prevention
Speaking about possible diseases of blueberries, first of all, it is worth noting the need to comply with the rules of planting and care. The culture most often suffers from fungal infections, which can be caused by waterlogging of the soil, the absence of thinning clippings, the stay of the plant in the shade, and the absence of top dressing.
Did you know? Bumblebees have a great advantage over other insects. — due to rapid chest contractions, they do not freeze in the morning. Insects are the first to go to collect pollen.
Another serious illness - phomopsis. In appearance, it is similar to cancer, additionally twisting of the tops of shoots, drilling of leaves and bark. You can fight the same methods. Blueberries can also be affected by fungi that cause all kinds of spotting. The affected bushes are sprayed with fungicides "Fitosporin", "Fundazol", according to the instructions.
The most dangerous pests are caterpillars of moths, leafworms, jaundice, which feed on sap and plant fragments. If you notice single tracked representatives, you can collect them manually. In a more difficult situation, use the insecticides "Actellik", "Spark".
As a preventative measure, blueberries are sprayed in spring and autumn with copper-containing preparations. A 1% solution of Bordeaux mixture is well suited for this, you can also use "HOM", "Abiga-Peak".
When it blooms and bears fruit
Blueberries begin to bloom and bear fruit in the 3rd year after planting. The first buds appear in early May. Gradually opening up they form pretty white or pink-white bell-shaped flowers. One fruit branch can produce up to 40 buds, in the place of which soon berries will appear.
Fruit ripening occurs in early August, but with proper care, it can be even earlier - sometimes harvesting is already started at the end of July. The berries ripen in large drooping clusters, but not together - on one bush there can be both unripe and very ripe fruits. Bushes bear fruit for a month. The yield of blueberries increases over the years - by the age of 7, up to 8 kg of berries per season can be collected from one bush.
Fruits - rounded, slightly elongated blue-black berries. On the skin there is a wax coating, which well preserves the moisture and integrity of the fruit. Garden blueberries are famous for their pleasant sweet taste and aroma. The berries are quite large - in some varieties they reach a weight of up to 1.8 g with a diameter of 14 mm (the fruits of forest blueberries have an average weight of 0.8–1.2 g).
Harvesting and storage
Harvesting takes place in several stages. Berries are harvested in dry weather, since wet berries are very poorly stored. Unripe fruits are better preserved and amenable to transportation, since they have a denser skin. However, for fresh consumption and cooking jams this is not the best option, since the taste of berries is mostly sour. Berries become sweeter as they ripen.
At the same time, the density of the skin is thinning, and the fruits become more fragile. They must be collected carefully, and it is advisable to wash them immediately before use or processing. The fruits can be stored in the refrigerator or cellar, spread out in a thin layer in a plastic container. Ripe berries can be stored this way up to 5 days, and harvested in the early stages - up to 10-12 days.
There are several ways to save blueberries for a long period, until the next year, namely:
- freezing - the fruits are laid in plastic bags or plastic vessels and placed in the freezer;
- drying - berries are left in a dark ventilated room or placed in the oven, where drying takes place in 2.5–3 hours at a temperature of + 50 ... + 60 ° С;
- soak - the fruits are placed in jars, filled with cold water and pasteurized for 20-30 minutes (depending on capacity), then rolled up;
- sugaring - the berries are twisted in a meat grinder, sugar is added (per 1 kg of fruit 0.5 kg of sugar). The mixture is well heated, laid out in jars and pasteurized, rolled up.
In all cases, except freezing, the fruits should be stored in a cool place - in the refrigerator or cellar. Also, fresh berries are prepared for the winter in the form of jams, compotes and jams.
A large selection of varieties of garden blueberries, bred by breeders, allows you to choose the best option for growing on a summer cottage in the suburbs. Compliance with the rules of planting and care, in turn, will contribute to high yields of shrubs, which, in addition, have a fairly long life span, reaching 80 years.