Their sweet flavor and antioxidant properties make blueberries some of the most popular berries. While readily available -- both fresh and frozen -- throughout most of the year, many people prefer homegrown berries. Fortunately, blueberries can be grown almost anywhere in the United States, even in the cool climates of Idaho. Due to the cool temperatures, you must consider the variety of blueberry you grow as well as the planting time.
Take a sample of your soil to your local county extension office to get pH and NPK tests performed. Blueberries need a pH level between 4.5 and 5.2, which tends to be lower than most Idaho soil. The extension office can give you information on how to change the pH level or NPK levels of your soil, but this typically takes a minimum of two years to accomplish. If desired, you can make a raised bed and fill it with store-bought acidic soil.
Create the garden bed in an area that gets full sun. Loosen the soil with a shovel or tiller to a depth of at least 6 inches. Remove all weeds and rocks from the soil to prevent any obstructions and competition for space.
Water the soil slowly until it's moist to a depth of 12 inches. Do not, however, let the soil become soggy or waterlogged. Keep the soil at this moisture level throughout the entire life of the blueberry plants.
Dig holes in the soil for each blueberry cutting you wish to plant. The holes should be the same depth and twice as wide as the root balls. Space each hole 3 feet apart to ensure the plants have enough room to grow.
Place one cutting in each hole and fill in the empty space around the root balls with soil. Do not pack the soil tightly as it may result in poor drainage.
Fertilize the soil every four weeks with a 21-0-0 ammonium sulfate fertilizer from spring to fall. Follow the directions on the package to ensure you use the proper amount of fertilizer for your garden bed. Some fertilizers must also be diluted with water before they're applied.
Remove dead, diseased and the smallest canes from the blueberry bushes starting in winter of the second year. Cut the canes with a pair of sharp pruning shears to prevent excess damage to the plants. Continue this each year.
Prune all new suckers on the plants starting at the fourth year, but leave the two most vigorous. Any new canes that form should also be removed each year.
Things You Will Need
- Blueberry cuttings
- Ammonium sulfate fertilizer
- Pruning shears
- Plant the blueberries a week after the last expected frost of the year.
- CHOOSE a cold hardy blueberry variety such as the Northland or Patriot.
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