If I were to ask you what the top ten selling items in a supermarket in the UK by value were many of you would guess milk, some chicken and you would be right but I wonder how many of you would guess blueberries? If you did, you would be correct. These little berries reputation as a “superfood” means these little bad boys fly off the shelves even though they are not cheap to buy fresh.
I like blueberries so always wanted to have a go. Not having acidic soil I grow in large pots on my rather exposed front drive way. Of my three original bushes I’ve lost all but one. This sole remaining bush a Herbert continues year after.
Herberts have a reputation for fine tasting large fruit. My pot based fruit are smaller than you would buy in a supermarket but they certainly taste great if I can get them before the birds and the beautiful fall foliage of the bush is stunning.
In the kitchen
I like my blueberries raw, possibly with a little yogurt or muesli or in a smoothie but you can also use them for pie fillings and muffins.
Yield and plant health
If you are able to grow blueberries in the ground and provide adequate moisture then you will be rewarded with punnets of large blueberries per bush. If you are growing in a pot you will still be rewarded with plenty of blueberries but of a smaller size. I grow mine in a 50cm diameter pot and am not overalls good at remembering to water but am still rewarded each year. Protect from birds or see your crop decimated.
Blueberries like a moist but well drained soil but more important is that it should be ericaceous (acidic) . If your soil cannot grow rhododendrons or azaleas then you will have most success growing in a large (50cm plus) diameter pot in an ericaceous compost mix.
Plant in autumn or early spring and keep well watered. The plants will benefit from a mulch of ericaceous compost or bark chips and regular feeding with an ericaceous feed for pot plants although soil grown bushes shouldn’t need additional feeding.
Ensure you keep the soil moist and don’t allow to dry out, water with tap water preferably but any water is better that non.
After two years you might think about pruning. Do this in early spring, removing a quarter of the old growth every year.
Protect from birds who are fond of them.
Harvest when the berries have achieved their dark blue colour.