The advantages of an organic fruit are clearin the first bite. One of the most well suited fruits for organic production is the blueberry. Blueberries have valuable nutritional properties and are rich in antioxidants, as well as they are a powerful anti-allergen and a natural immune stimulator. For their qualities, organically grown blueberries are highly sought on the world markets. Whether you are planning to grow organic blueberries in your home garden or on a larger scale, read the following guidelines to take full advantage of the benefits of that wonderful healthy fruit.
Step 1 – Select a Variety
The first step to growing organic blueberries is choosing varieties that are well adapted to your region. In general, there are four basic blueberry varieties: highbush blueberry, half-high blueberry, lowbush blueberry and rabbiteye blueberry. To select blueberry plants, visit a nursery where you have a wide array of options and can pick up the best and strongest ones.
Step 2 – Choose a Location
Prior to planting blueberries, find a site that has the appropriate altitude, growing season length, precipitation, groundwater systems, climate, etc.
Hills and mountainous areas with moderate climate and sufficient rainfall, evenly distributed throughout the growing season, are favourable areas for blueberry cultivation. It is better if the site has been a meadow or pasture before, while sites that have been previously cultivated should be avoided.
Step 3 – Prepare the Soil
Good soil management is essential for successfully growing organic blueberries. Most suitable for blueberries are acidic, sand-peat soils that are rich in humus and with good ventilation and regular water supply. Organic blueberries do not tolerate high clay and sandy soils.
To correct soil acidity use sulfur. However, overuse has to be avoided as it can damage the soil microbial populations. Adding organic fertilizers such as compost is beneficial for blueberry production. When choosing organic matter, opt for fertilizers with high levels of nitrogen and potassium but low in phosphorus.
Step 4 – Plant the Blueberries
Before planting, clear the site of shrubs, trees, stones and plant debris. Blueberries should be planted in autumn after the fall of leaves or early spring. Blueberries tolerate shading, but for maximum production, they need direct sun light. For better illumination of the plants, the rows should be oriented north-south.
Step 5 – Water
Due to their shallow root system, the plants require a significant amount of rain water during the growing period. Ensuring optimum soil moisture in many cases is possible only through additional irrigation. Blueberries need a lot of water when the young shoots grow intensively from the base of the stem.
Step 6 – Pest Control
Prevention is the best approach when it comes down to the health and productivity of plants. Trapping, good sanitary practices, and picking the fruit often are effective against insect pests. In general, blueberries suffer less pest problems compared to other fruits, which is a considerable advantage for organic production.
Luckily, there are disease resistant varieties available. So, if a certain disease prevails in your area, choose a variety that is resistant to that disease. If your existing plants have already been affected, you can, depending on the disease, either prune the infected stem or remove the infected plant. Frequent picking of fruits is also a way to control diseases.