There are more than five things to love about blueberries, but these are my top five things to love.
First blueberries are hardy and really easy to grow, especially in Heath where the soil is suitably acid. Blueberries require a pH between 4 and 5.5. I never tested the soil in the berry patch, but my highbush blueberries are healthy, big and productive. And have been for 30 years. This year I am getting a bumper crop. Blueberries need two cultivars for cross pollination, and two or more cultivars can spread ripening time over a long season. Nourse Farms near us offers a dozen cultivars from very early like Patriot to mid season like Blueray and Bluecrop to late season like Jersey. Just remember if you are going to get a good crop you will need to net the patch, something to consider when you are planting them. Mine grow in a line, but I do think a square of berry bushes is easier to manage. It is tough to get a net over a 30 foot row of bushes. And make sure you aren’t wearing any buttons while you wrangle that black netting.
Two. Blueberries don’t all ripen at once and they hang on the bush happily for a few days until you can get out and pick. Nor are they susceptible to damp or rain like raspberries that need to be picked every day in season. Blueberries are very considerate of busy gardeners.
Three. They are incredibly nutritious. They are not only rich in Vitamins C and K (important in blood clotting) they are rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals (oxidation) that thus possibly setting the scene for disease. Blueberries are among the foods highest in antioxidants – and so delicious. A list of these foods shows the wisdom of the motto Eat Your Colors.
Four. Blueberries are easy to preserve. Just pop them into a freezer bag and into the freezer. My own blueberries come in over a long season so it is easy to always have fresh blueberries on hand, but I also buy a 20 pound box of local lowbush blueberries every year. It takes me about half an hour to put them in bags and into the freezer. Naturally, I also have many berries of my own to freeze.
Five. Blueberries are delicious. You can eat them out of hand or in your breakfast cereal. Fresh or frozen you can use them in pancakes, muffins and pies. You can combine them with peaches, plums or raspberries in a colorful and delicious summer fruit crumble. We eat a lot of summer fruit crumble. Have you grown blueberries?