Growing Blueberries at the Allotment

Growing Blueberries at the Allotment

How to Grow Blueberries: A Detailed Guide

Blueberry plants are a stunning addition to a plot or garden with their white, bell-shaped flowers in spring and blue fruits in summer. In autumn, the leaves turn yellow, red and purple.

If you want to learn how to grow blueberries, we have an extensive yet easy guide for you. 

We will provide all the necessary details from picking the ideal spot for the plant to the right time to harvest, ensuring you get a bountiful harvest. 

If you want to join our online community, connect with likeminded growers and share your blueberry growing journey with us, sign up here

When and Where to Grow Blueberries

Blueberries thrive in the sunshine in well-drained, moisture-retentive soil that is acidic. If your soil is not acidic, dig in plenty of organic matter, such as leaf mould, pine needles, conifer bark and other acidic organic waste. The reason for this is the acidic nature of the soil creates a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi, which releases ammonia and minerals that blueberry bushes love. 

It is best to plant bare-root, dormant plants during winter to early spring in the UK. However, container-grown blueberry plants can be grown at any time.

How and When to Plant Blueberries

Dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball and just as deep, gently loosening the soil to encourage root growth and establishment. Consider spacing the plants at least 4 to 6 feet apart to allow enough room for growth and air circulation. 

The blueberry plant should not completely dry out or become water-logged either, striking a balance somewhere in the middle is optimal. Mulch around the base of the blueberry bush is recommended to retain moisture and suppress the weeds. Upon planting your blueberry bush, Water in well and create a hole deep enough for the root ball but wider enough for the roots to spread out.

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How to Take Care of a Blueberry Plant

Sometimes blueberries can be affected by the colder weather and wet weather and may require protection, depending on the variety and your location. You will also need to protect your blueberry plants in a fruit cage or netting to stop the birds from eating the fruits.

Pruning your blueberry plant is not necessary, other than to remove dead or damaged shoots and stems.

When and How to Harvest Blueberries

If you are wondering when to pick blueberries, you’ve come to the right placewe have got you covered!

You can begin to harvest blueberries in the summer, but this will be staggered over several weeks as they will not all be ready at once. It’s clear when tThe formed fruits are ready as they turn from green to blue!.

When harvesting blueberries, gently grasp the ripe berries between your thumb and forefinger, then give a slight twist to detach them from the stem. Avoid pulling too hard, as this can damage the plant. It's best to pick blueberries in the morning when they are cool and firm.

Common Problems with Blueberries

  • Blueberries are susceptible to pests such as Japanese beetles, blueberry maggots and birds. These pests can damage foliage, flowers, and fruit, affecting overall plant health and yield. 
  • Common diseases that affect blueberries include powdery mildew, botrytis blight, and anthracnose. 
  • Blueberries require acidic soil with a pH between 4.5 and 5.5 for healthy growth. Alkaline soil can lead to nutrient deficiencies and poor plant health.
  • Blueberries are very sensitive plants. Environmental stressors such as drought, excessive heat, and frost can ruin your efforts. 

Popular Blueberries Varieties

In your process of learning how to grow blueberries, trying out different varieties will broaden your knowledge of their unique characteristics and requirements.

  • ‘Duke’ is a popular choice among allotment growers in the UK. It is known for its large berries and excellent flavour and is also valued for its high yields.
  • ‘Bluecrop’ is another widely cultivated variety in the UK, popular for its abundant, medium-sized berries and its ability to thrive in varying growing conditions.
  • ‘Chandler’ blueberries are loved for their exceptionally sweet flavour and large fruit size. They are favoured by many growers for their high yields and excellent dessert quality.
  • 'Liberty' are highly valued for their strong consistency and intense,  sweet-tart taste. This variety is renowned for its continuous harvest and high disease resistance. 

The Different Ways to Use Blueberries

Learning how to grow blueberries can help you open up different culinary opportunities.

  • Blueberries are really versatile - they can be eaten fresh or cooked in desserts and preserves.
  • They can be added to your morning routine by sprinkling them over cereal, oatmeal, or yoghurt for a nutritious boost.
  • You could make blueberry jam, jelly, or compote to enjoy the fruit's flavour year-round on toast, scones, or as a topping for desserts.
  • Blend your blueberries into smoothies or juices for a refreshing and nutritious drink.
  • You could even get creative and add to a summer salad!

Explore more recipes here

Growing Blueberries in the UK: A Summary

Planting Blueberries

  • Plant dormant bareroot during winter-early spring
  • Plant container grown plants any time
  • Plant in acidic soil or add acidic matter

Growing Blueberries

  • Protect from the wet, cold and birds
  • Mulch and water during dry spells
  • Prune minimally to remove damage

Harvesting Blueberries

  • Harvest from mid summer
  • Stagger over the summer
  • Berries will turn from green to blue when ripened

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