Upper South

July, 2009
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

Blueberries
Blueberries are on just about every "super foods" list for their antioxidant power. Besides how good they are for you, they also taste great. They're also easy to freeze, so they can be enjoyed year-round. An American native, blueberry plants are live more than 20 years and require very little care. They're also beautiful in the landscape, forming a rounded shrub with lovely red fall color. Although all the literature on blueberries testifies to their exacting soil requirements, I've found them much easier to grow. I do think they need a well-drained garden soil enriched with compost or sphagnum peat moss. My plants also get feed every year with a fertilizer designed for acid-loving plants and are mulched well with hardwood mulch. There are a dozen or so widely available varieties for our region, with varying flavors and ripening times. Plant blueberries in the spring, spacing 4 to 8 feet apart. Plants will begin production in 2 years, with full production in 5 years, when they reach 6 to 10 feet tall. The amount of production will vary, depending on growing conditions and care, but I'm getting about 100 pounds this year from my three mature and eight 3-year-old plants.

Tool or Gardening Product

Bird Netting
Blueberries have few pests except that birds like them as much as we do. There are devices designed to scare birds away, such as inflatable snakes, owls, and special balloon-like objects and mylar tape, and these will somewhat prevent birds from ravaging the plants. The most effective method, however, is to cover the plants with bird netting. This product is a pliable, UV-stabilized plastic mesh with three-quarter-inch openings. It is available in a range of sizes. To use, simply throw the netting over each bush, or create a structure from wood or electric conduit and place the netting over that.

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