In Your Garden with Jenny Watts Luscious Blueberries from your Garden Blueberries can be grown in many parts

of the United States, however different types of blueberries are better for different climates. Three general types of blueberries are called Northern highbush, Southern highbush, and Southern rabbiteye. Northern highbush blueberries grow 4 to 6 feet tall and have clusters of white bell-shaped flowers in spring, rich green foliage that turns deep red in the fall, and abundant crops of sweet blue berries in midsummer. They are the best known and the largest, sweetest and juiciest blueberries you can grow. These varieties, however, are native to Canada, Michigan and other northern climes. They prefer cool summers, where they have the best fruit quality, but are worth growing in our area in partial shade. Southern highbush blueberries have an earlier ripening season and grow 5 to 8 feet tall by 5 feet wide. They are all self-pollinating, although the yields are higher with cross pollination. These varieties are suitable for areas from Florida to California because of their low chill requirement and heat tolerance. They grow in full sun or partial shade, and are grown commercially in the Central Valley. Rabbiteye blueberries are native to the South. They are large bushes growing 6-12 feet tall. They are very tolerant to heat and drought, but need more than one variety for pollination and fruit set. Blueberries need mostly sun and rich, acid soil that is high in organic matter. A pH of 4.8 to 5.0 is ideal. When planting, add lots of peat moss, equal to 50% of the planting hole soil. Dig a wide hole and add a couple of cups of soil sulfur per plant. They don’t like strong nitrogen fertilizer, but you should feed them after they are established with regular light applications every six weeks, beginning in April and ending in July or August. Use an acid plant food with at least 10 percent nitrogen. Make the first feeding as soon as growth starts in the spring. Spread the fertilizer around the plants 6 to 12 inches away from their crowns, and water it in. Remove all blossoms the first two years and allow only a small crop to mature the third season. This will help the plants establish faster. Blueberry roots are shallow and should not be disturbed. Mulch the plants with 4 to 6 inches of sawdust or compost, but keep it away from the base of the plant. This will keep down weeds and retain moisture. Keep replenishing the mulch all summer. Plants should be kept moist all through the growing season. A wonderful feature of many varieties is their outstanding fall color, hot, luminous reds, pinks, and oranges that really light up with fall rains. It’s nice to plant them where you can enjoy their colorful foliage. Blueberries are very nutritious and are a wonderful addition to your diet as well as your garden.