Blueberries: harvest, planting and care
Blueberries are a modest forest shrub that belongs to the Heathers family. In the wild, its height does not exceed 50-60 cm. In spring, the bush is overgrown with bluish-green foliage, and in the summer, at the height of the season, it is covered with many berries that are not only tasty, but also healthy. Over the years, people have "tamed" the culture and now its planting can be found in many garden sites.
Blueberry picking season
Blueberry berries in the forest begin to sing in late July. Varieties growing in garden plots can ripen a little earlier - in mid-July, and fruiting lasts about 3-4 weeks, sometimes even until the frost. The fruits of blueberries are small blue-black berries with a light wax coating. They have a rounded, slightly elongated shape.The average weight is 10–15 g and the maximum diameter is 12 mm.
At the beginning of ripening, the skin of the fruit is quite dense, but eventually becomes refined. The culture is characterized by high productivity, despite the fact that its bushes are small and compact, they bear fruit, as they say, “from the heart” - from one copy you can collect up to 5-6 kg of fruits per season. Blueberry fruits have a mild sweet taste, sometimes with a slight acidity. They can be consumed fresh or processed, preserving for a long time a pleasant taste, aroma and useful qualities.
Did you know? Blueberry fruits contain a rich complex of vitamins B, C, E, strengthening immunity, as well as pectins, tannins, normalizing the functioning of the food system. Anthocyanins are here — cancer prevention elements.
The berries ripen unevenly all season: it happens that on the tops of the bushes they are already poured, blue-black, and on the lower branches they are just starting to ripen. When you need to collect the fruits - it depends on what you plan to do with them. If you just want to eat berries, it is better to wait until they finally ripen, fill with juicy pulp and become sweet.
A long transportation of the crop is supposed, or you just want to keep it fresh longer - it is better to start harvesting in the early stages. The dense peel and pulp will ensure the fruit is healthy, in suitable cool conditions the berries will mature themselves. It is important to note that they need to be washed only immediately before use or processing. Indeed, during washing, a thin wax film leaves the fruits, as a result of which they become very fragile.
At the same time, overexposure ripe berries on the bushes is also not worth it - they quickly succumb to decay. Harvest must be in the morning before sunrise or in the evening after sunset. It is advisable to collect in dry weather. If it rains continuously, you should dry the harvested crop slightly by spreading the fruits in a thin layer on a sheet of paper. Ripe berries are collected in a wide container with low sides. You can take a basket or a basket - such containers have openings that will create ventilation.
Ripe berries can be stored in the refrigerator. They are laid out in plastic containers and installed on the middle shelves of the refrigerator. Do not put blueberries close to the freezer, as the fruits may begin to fade. Under these conditions, the berries are stored for up to 6 days. An unripe crop in the refrigerator will save its qualities for up to 2 weeks. The storage location can be a cellar, but you need to observe that the air temperature in it does not exceed +10 ° С.
There are several ways to store the crop for a long period. The first is freezing. The fruits need to be sorted out, removing rotten and bursting, spread out in a thin layer on a towel so that they dry out a little.Then the berries are placed in a plastic container, covered with a film and put in a freezer. Instead of a container, you can use a regular plastic bag. So the fruits can be stored until the next season.
The second way to store blueberries for a long time is to dry the fruit. Each housewife chooses the most acceptable method for this: some are dried in the oven (convenient for apartment conditions), others are laid out on paper in darkened, blown places.
In private homes, the attic is usually the drying place. In an oven, blueberries are dried at a temperature of + 50 ... + 60 ° C for 2.5–3 hours, periodically stirring the berries.
Important! For storage of dried blueberries you need to use a sealed container to avoid moisture. Save containers in a dry, dark place.
The third storage method is soaking. To keep the berries in this form for many months, they need to be washed, put in glass jars, and filled with cold boiled water. Filled cans should be placed in a deep pot with water and boiled over a small fire: half a liter container is enough for 10 minutes, and a liter container takes about 20 minutes. After that, the banks are rolled up and put upside down for cooling. Store in the refrigerator.
And finally, the fourth method, “sweet”, allows you to save the berries for about a year. The fruits need to be chopped (in a meat grinder or using a blender), add sugar at the rate of: 1 kg of berries 0.5 kg of sugar. Put the resulting mass on a small fire, heat to dissolve the sugar. Arrange the mixture in jars, sterilize half-liter and liter containers, respectively, 20 and 30 minutes, roll up. Store in the refrigerator. Besides all the methods discussed, blueberries can be stored as jam or jam.
Where and how does blueberry grow in the forest
In the wild, blueberries are widely distributed in the northern hemisphere, in particular, in Iceland, Great Britain, the Russian Far East, Japan and North America. Most of all, a temperate or cold climate is suitable for the plant - many varieties bred by breeders that have increased frost resistance have also adopted this trait.
Did you know? A common companion of blueberries in the forest is rosemary, whose leaves contain a large amount of essential oils that cause intoxication. If a person spends a lot of time in such a place picking berries, he may be intoxicated with the aroma of ledum.
In the forest, blueberries are most often found in untouched nature. Especially favorable for it are marshy soils, which contain a large amount of coniferous humus. In search of shrubs, look at the forest glades - blueberries love lighted areas. It is also worth paying attention to fallen trees, old stumps, where shoots of blueberries are often found.
Planting and caring for blueberries
If you decide to dig a bush of blueberries in the forest and plant in your personal plot, it is very unlikely that it will take root. Wild blueberries prefer a natural habitat. It is better to purchase a cultivated variety. For example, Putte blueberry, which is a tall shrub that gives an excellent harvest, or the Patriot garden variety, will be an excellent option endowed with the best qualities for breeding in the country.
For cultivation, you must choose a well-lit area, protected from drafts. No need to plant the crop in waterlogged, swampy areas - it is better to plant on a small hill and water in a timely manner.To make the plant adapt well, do not be too lazy to change the soil. After digging a landing pit with a depth of about 30–40 cm, half fill it with a mixture of horse peat, sand and pine needles (5: 1: 1).
It is also recommended to slightly acidify the soil in advance with a solution of 50 g of vinegar essence diluted in a bucket of water. After planting, abundantly water the shrubbery (5-8 l of water), sprinkle the soil with mulch from pine bark. For better pollination, it is recommended to grow several bushes on the site at once. In this case, the distance between them should be about 1.5 m. On landing, the case does not end.
The bush will grow and develop well if you provide it with proper care, which is quite simple and consists of the following items:
- Watering. With a lack of moisture on the blueberry bushes, the number of flower buds decreases, respectively, you can not wait for a large crop. You need to water the plant regularly in the summer, 6-8 liters of water 2 times a week. In spring, blueberries have enough natural rainfall, but if they have not been around for a long time, start watering, after which it is advisable to loosen the soil and cover it with mulch to preserve moisture.
- Top dressing. Blueberries do not like organic matter, which neutralizes the acidity of the soil, so mineral fertilizers must be used as fertilizers. They are introduced in spring and summer, while digging the soil. You can buy ready-made complex fertilizers in the store, for example, Nitroammofosku, or you can make a combination for 1 bush of 100 g of superphosphate, 80 g of ammonium sulfate and 40 g of potassium sulfate.
- Preventive treatment against diseases and pests. In spring and autumn, the bushes should be periodically sprayed with solutions of chemicals that are best changed from time to time so as not to become addictive.
- Pruning. The two main trimmings are carried out in spring and autumn. In spring, shoots that survived the winter (broken, frozen) are eliminated. In the fall, unsuccessful stems are also removed, as well as those that grow deep into the bush and will create thickening. It is better to trim young growth so that it does not take away the juice of the plant, making the root system weak before frost. Once every 3-4 years, anti-aging pruning is performed, removing all branches.
- Preparing for the winter. After harvesting, they carry out planned cutting of shrubs, weed the soil, remove weeds - all organic garbage from the site is removed. Now you can carry out preventive spraying from diseases and insects. To cover blueberries for the winter or not depends on how snowy winters are in the region where it grows. If there is usually little snow, it is better to cover the bushes with polyethylene or spanbond (a special "breathing" agrofibre).
Protection against diseases and pests
Blueberry diseases are most often manifested when non-compliance with the rules of care (waterlogging of the soil, shaded area, thickened), as well as during periods of heavy prolonged rain. The cause of the disease is various fungal spores that affect all fragments of the plant. The most serious ailments are spotting and tracheomycotic wilt. To cope with them, they use effective fungicides "Fitosporin", "Alirin-B".
Important! It is not recommended to spray with chemicals in hot and rainy weather. In the first case, these funds can cause burns in the plant, and in the second — will lose most of their properties.
As for the insects attacking the shrub, the most dangerous are the caterpillars of such pests as the leaf moth, peat jaundice, and moth. They literally devour the leaves and stems of the plant. If measures are not taken in time, the bush may die. They control pests using treatments with Iskra, Kinmix, etc.
In order to prevent the development of the disease or the settlement of the bush with pests, it is necessary to periodically conduct preventive spraying. The treatment with the “Bordeaux mixture” (1%) is good for diseases, you can use its substitute - the drug “Abiga-Peak”. Against all kinds of pests, chemical agents (insecticides) Inta-Vir, Actellik, etc.
On garden plots, blueberries can be found much less frequently than, for example, currants or raspberries. However, now interest in it has increased significantly - people appreciated the taste and benefits of fruits, as well as the unpretentiousness of the bush. If you have not yet started growing plants on your site - be sure to do it, but for now you can try to find it in your usual habitat and make reserves for the winter.