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How to grow blueberries

Blueberry grows easily, if you have the right kind of soil. So, you must either select your ground carefully or grow in pots. You need to maintain the soil quality over the years by mulching with the right materials and watering properly. You need to ensure that you prune the blueberries yearly to maintain their vigour. Read on.

The soil

Acid soil Wild blueberries naturally grow in acid soils, so they prefer soils with pH 4.00-5.5. The pH is the scale on which acidity and alkalinity in soils are measured: pH 1 being totally acid and pH 15 being totally alkaline. Most British lowland soils are pH 6.5-7, so blueberries will not grow on normal British lowland soils. [Note pH is always a small p and a capital H.] This means that blueberries will not grow in the normal garden soil found in UK. Blueberry growers must therefore, acidify the soil or grow blueberries in pots containing ericaceous compost. Pot growing is the easier and more productive option. Growers who want to grow in the ground must acidify their soil with sulfur dust or chips and mulch with pine needles. Peat acidifies soil, but by using it is considered harmful to the environment. It is not acceptable, if you want to produce organic blueberries. Planting Blueberry plants should be planted in autumn or winter. They are placed about five feet (1.5 metres) feet apart to allow room for growth. The soil round the plant should be firmed in by treading down on it after planting. On planting surround, them with an acidic mulch. Mulch is any substance laid on top of the soil to provide food or protection. Tap water contains lime, which neutralises acidic soils, so water blueberries with rainwater instead.

Cultivation

A blueberry bush will produce berries easily enough, but to maintain its productivity, you need to care for it. Blueberries growing in pots will need to have their soil renewed with ericaceous compost or by the addition of acidic mulch or sulfur. As the blueberry grows repotting might be necessary, as the plant might be outgrowing its pot. Watering is important during fruiting time. Water them from the time the buds are seen until the leaves have fallen from their branches. Blueberry bushes produce fruit on last year's wood, so a branch that has fruited is unlikely to fruit again. After fruiting, it should therefore, be pruned off to allow for new growth. By using secateurs, small pruning cutters, cut off last year's wood and any weak or damaged branches. Failure to prune means that the bush is carrying useless wood that will not provide berries, but will use up food.

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