Imagine the flavor of blueberry pancakes or muffins made with blueberries freshly picked from your own backyard. This is an attainable goal, and if you have a patch of ground and a sunny location, you can discover the reward of picking fresh blueberries. Fresh blueberries are far superior to frozen or canned blueberries, and are loaded with vitamins C and A, fiber and antioxidants. Blueberry bushes are practical, ornamental, and add interest and color to the home landscape.
Purchase blueberry plants from a greenhouse or garden center. The plants probably will be available in bush form and bare-root form, and although the bushes may cost more, they are preferable because bare-root plants may not make it past the first year.
Start two weeks before planting time and prepare an area that measures approximately two feet square and two deep feet deep for each plant. Work the soil well with a hoe or shovel, removing all weeds, and picking out rocks and clumps of soil. Add two or three shovels full of manure, compost or peat moss to the soil to improve drainage and add nutrients. The best time to plant blueberry bushes is in early spring, as soon as there is no danger of frost in your area.
Dig a hole as deep as the bush's root system and double the width, then plant the bush in the hole. Let water run into the hole slowly until the hole is filled, and then turn the water off and wait for it to soak completely into the soil. When it does, re-fill the hole with soil. Leave three to five feet of space between each bush.
Surround the bush with about three inches of mulch, which will help to keep weeds under control. Don't allow weeds to become established because they will sap moisture and nutrients from the blueberry's shallow root system.
Water the blueberry bush lightly several times a week during the growing season. The soil should be moist, but never allow it to become soggy, and don't let water pool on top of the soil. An inch of water per week should be plenty unless the weather is very hot and dry.
Prune young blueberry bushes early each spring. Until they mature, they will only need a light pruning, which entails just trimming off thin, spindly branches, and any branches that look diseased or dead. When the blueberry bush is about 7 or 8 years old, it will need a slightly more drastic pruning. The bush will be healthier and will bear more fruit if you remove a third of the older branches every spring. Continue to do light pruning as needed.