Blue berries may be eaten fresh. Made into jellies or jams, syrups and juices. And also make a decent pie. They freeze well and do not stick together when frozen unlike other berries. Did I mention that they taste good? There are also many well know health benefits from eating blue berries.
- Blue berries aid in reducing belly fat
- Blue berries are rich in antioxidants which naturally boost your immunity
- Neutralize free radicals which may help reduce disease and fight the effects of aging
- Preserve vision. Blue berry extract contains compounds called anthocyanosides which may slow visual losses. Better than eating carrots in my opinion!
- Promotes the health of the urinary tract
- May help heal and prevent neurotic disorders by preventing the deterioration and death of neurons. Family history of Alzheimer's disease? How about a cup of blue berries.
- Combats heart disease by dissolving bad cholesterol and strengthens the heart muscle fibers
- Combats constipation and aides in digestion due to the high fiber content
- Blue berries contain certain chemicals that may repel certain types of cancer such as colon and liver cancer
- And did I mention they taste so good?
Selecting the Site
Blue berries require full sun and a well drained soil. You can not expect a plant to do well in shade or in an area that remains wet. Most of a blue berry plants roots are in the top 8 inches of soil so your planting area need not be deep but should be 2.5 to 3 feet wide. You also want to keep the weeds away from your blue berry plants so they do not have to compete for water. As you can see in the picture below the site we chose is a slightly sloping area with full sun. The picture was taken at dusk and the area that we are planting receives full sun from sun up to sun down.
Preparing The Soil
Methods of Lowering PH
As discussed a blue berry plant has to have an acidic soil to grow and do well. Does this mean you can go till up a spot, lower the ph and immediately plant the bushes? You probably can but they may not do well. It is more beneficial to prepare the soil 3-4 months before you plan on planting. For you average home grower you would typically plant blue berry bushes in the spring. For commercial growers it is recommended to plant in the fall. There are several ways to lower the ph of your soil but they all begin by testing the ph of the soil. In our case we purchased a ph tester from Ace Hardware. It is simply a rod you stick into the soil with a meter attached. I cost less than $10.00 and will more than pay for itself.
Another alternative method is using pine mulch. Pine mulch is naturally acidic. In this method you will use one part pine mulch, one part peat, and one part soil. This will reduce the amount of peat moss your require which will reduce your costs and it will create and air and water channel.
As you can see we have started tilling the first row. After we selected the site we ran a piece of string as a guide to keep the rows somewhat straight. It is best for the rows to be oriented in a north to south fashion but if that is not possible you may orient the rows east to west. The rows the berries will be planted in are four feet wide and there is ten feet in between rows. This gives us a nice sod area to walk on for picking and we can easily keep it mowed to keep the weeds down.
Here you see we have completed four rows. Each row is 200 feet long. We will place the berry bushes in each row with a minimum of 4 feet between each plant.
Our plan is to plant 200 blue berry plants that are 2-3 years old when we plant. We will be able to start producing within a year or so and will plant additional plants each year to increase our production. We plan to initially sell at farmers markets and possibly to some local stores. As we add plants we will open a u-pick operation to increase our profits. My next post will cover the actual preparation of the soil with the results of my soil test, addition of sulfur and peat.