Summertime brings us the joy of berry season. The blueberries’ native wild habitat ranges from Newfoundland to Florida (varying in size and form) and is quite stark, with dry summers, cold winters, and very little nutrient. Blueberry is the name given in North America to certain shrubs of the heather family, Ericaceae. The British species of the genus are called bilberries and bear their fruit singly, in contrast to the many-fruited clusters of the American blueberries.
Blueberries are hardy, disease resistant and can live for 60-100 years, but they do have quite specific demands. The cultivated blueberries are high-bush type, standing 3-5 feet tall. They have small pink or white flowers and beautiful red fall color and are often used as ornamentals. To grow successfully, they must have acid soil that has a high organic content (such as peat), a constant moderate moisture, and good drainage. They do well in sun or part shade. The roots are shallow and the plants should not be cultivated; a 6-inch mulch is recommended.
In recent times, this unassuming little fruit has undergone a dramatic transformation in its reputation. Scientists have declared the blueberry to be extremely good for your health. Now it is classified among the super foods, one of a select group that includes broccoli, oily fish and garlic. The reason for this super-fruit classification is the blueberry’s content of an exceptionally high quality of vitamins and anti-oxidants. From improving eyesight and protecting against our most prevalent diseases, a slowing of the aging process is also included. Bring on the blueberries!
England has discovered our blueberry. Five years ago they had scarcely heard of it; three years ago people hadn’t tasted them; nowadays, it is a declared favorite fruit of a great number of citizens. The Dorset Blueberry Company is increasing its production exponentially and believes if they planted 1,500 acres for the next five years, they would not satisfy the demand. The British gardeners know a good thing when they taste and see it.
Using different varieties of teh blueberry can extend the season of productivity as well as providing for cross-pollination. Amazingly hardy and declared by nurseries as easy to grow, the blueberry is useful as a hedge. It has shiny foliage in summer and turns red in the fall. And, it is a marvelous natural bird feeder. The blueberries freeze exceptionally well.