Blueberry planting and treatment
Blueberries – „berries of youth of the 21st century„
One of the latest, non-traditional garden plants in Lithuania is garden blueberry (Vaccinium x covilleanum Butkus et Pliszka) – longevous garden culture, growing in acid soil and fruiting for 25-40 years. It is deciduous shrub of 1,5 – 1,8 m height, beautiful in all seasons.
Berry value. Blueberries are of fine taste, mauve, blue, depending on the kind, get ripen in the second half of July – September. Among the fresh fruits and vegetables, it is the largest source of antioxidants which does not decrease event keeping the berries for a longer time. Due to its valuable properties, it is also known as the “berries of youth of the 21st century”. Berries contained materials protect the organism from aging (Atherosclerosis, Alzheimer, Parkinson diseases) as well as various forms of cancer also reduce cholesterol, have positive effect on cardiovascular system, reduce eye fatigue due to working with computer, strengthens eyesight. Blueberries never cause allergies, are suitable for use to people with diabetes.
Early and medium late kinds of blueberries are cultivated in Lithuania.
Planting. Blueberry – sun-loving plant, so it is best growing in the open, sheltered sites, in acidic, high-marsh peat or sandy loam soils (pH 4,0 – 4,5). Planted in early spring, in late April – early May or in the autumn. In order to grow blueberries in a heavy, calcareous loam or clay soil, the pits need to be excavated (1,5 m length, 1,5 wide and 0,5 m depth), which later shall be backfilled with blueberries tailor-made substrate of acid (pH 4,0-4,5), humus, light high-marsh peat, tree bark and water absorption promoters. Layer of 5-10 cm of coarse sand or gravel shall be applied on the bottom of the pit. Seedlings of 2-3 years are the most suitable ones. They are to be planted in the same depth as they have grown earlier or a bit deeper. Blueberries in plantations shall be planted in rows, leaving 1,0 – 1,2 m distance between the plants and 3,0 – 3,5 m distance between the rows. After planting the plants they shall be watered and mulched, applying 5-10 cm of mulch. Within the first year, all blooming buds shall be picked off, in order to strengthen the root system.
Fertilization. Blueberries shall be fertilized 3 times: in late April – with 0,1 percent complex fertilizers containing trace elements Nutricompex (N:P:K 14:11:25) solution (or 20 g per plant), prior to blooming in mid-May and after the blooming with 0,1 percent ammonium sulfate solution, of pH 4,2-4,5 (or 20 g per plant). Blueberries planted in the spring are fertilized for the first time within that year after they have taken roots, after 3-4 weeks and for the second time – in June, with 0,1 percent ammonium sulfate solution. Plants need watering during the drought. During the growing season, plants must be watered 2-3 times with acidified water.
Mulching. Plants shall be mulched with not thicker than 5-10 cm layer of sawdust, bark or acid peat, leaving the 3-5 cm gap at the bush stem in order the very sensitive bark at the neck would not swelter. Young plant that have not taken roots, cannot be mulched with fresh, dry sawdust or compost, with high pH of >6,5.
Blueberry bush pruning. Usually, young bushes are not pruned, only after two years the branched leaning to the grown can be cut-off. The first brightening can be made after five years of growing. Later, regular pruning helps to regulate the growing and density of the bush, granting the permanent good quality of berries.
Blueberries shall be pruned in early spring, in March, in sunny and dry weather.