#14 is a “berry” good way to eat healthier in the New Year. Blueberries are the featured edible berries for this post. It is no secret that blueberries are very healthy and it is not our intent to provide a detailed nutritional analysis of them here. We would like to point out that growing your own blueberries allows you to choose what you fertilize them with and how you control potential diseases and pests. In short, if you grow blueberries organically then they may be a healthier food option than conventionally grown blueberries. Growing your own organically will certainly be less expensive than store-bought organic blueberries and maybe even cheaper than conventional ones. These babies are expensive!
We have had good luck with blueberries and the varieties we have chosen to grow provide us with a nice steady supply of berries all season long. Besides being healthy for the body we have found them to be healthy for the mind. Specifically, we have gotten a lot of joy from walking into the garden each day and seeing how many berries are ready to pick. It is also a blast to watch the kids get excited about the daily blueberry hunt.
Another thing we like about blueberries is their ability to produce edible fruit even without what is referred to as “full sun”. Our most mature bushes do get full sun and have produced great results. Last season we planted 3 new bushes in partial sun to see if we can get berries from them. We have read many blueberry varieties will do OK with partial sun and hope to experience the same or better results with ours.
Pests and disease have not been a problem for us yet (knock on reclaimed barn wood). Our biggest problem with blueberries has been the remake of the movie “The Birds” that goes on near our berry bushes each day. We have had to net our blueberries to protect them from very aggressive, relentless bird attacks. Those winged dive bombers know exactly when to show up and exactly which berries are ripe. They seem to pick them about a day before we would consider them to be ripe. We tried scarecrows, tinsel, aluminum foil streamers and many other deterrents and none of them worked long-term for us. The netting proved to be the only solution that worked for more than a couple of days. The downside of netting berry bushes is having to remove the netting to harvest berries. We alleviated this problem by cutting our netting to the perfect size to cover the entire part of the bush that produces berries. Then we loosely tie up the net at the base of bush. When we are ready to harvest we untie each net and remove it for harvesting. The whole process of taking the net off and putting it back on takes a few minutes per bush. However, it is better than the alternative of no berries.
Blueberry bushes are beautiful most of the year. They have wonderful, green leaves in Spring and send off a fireworks display of beautiful flower blossoms. Then the tasty berries start popping out in Summer followed by awesome fall foliage. Even without the berries these are some great bushes to grow.
Finally, if you take care of your blueberry bushes they may just outlast you! One of our great-grandmothers planted a couple of blueberry bushes in her yard and as a child I was able to enjoy those same bushes. So many years later and they still produced berries in return for a little TLC from us DIY Backyard Gardeners.