HOW TO GROW BLUEBERRIES IN A RAISED BED?

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Raised beds help to control weeds which are competitors of nutrients with your plants. Weeds are unwanted plants that steal nutrients from the soil. Blueberries have shallow roots that’s why they can’t fight for nutrients and aggressive weeding tools may disturb the roots and as a result, damage the plants. 

Growing blueberries is not a tough task if you grow them in raised beds. This is a good option to grow blueberries in a raised bed. You can manage the fertility of the soil which is a great advantage of a raised bed. Within a couple of years, you will get a bucket full of blueberries.

WHAT SIZES OF RAISED BEDS ARE FOR BLUEBERRIES?

When you grow blueberries in a raised bed then you will get tremendous production of berries as compared to in-ground beds. You can build raised beds with treated lumber, plastic, concrete blocks, rubber, bricks, and stones. 

Temporary beds are cheap but they erode during the growing season so avoid them. The blueberry plants have shallow roots which can spread about 3 to 4 feet in the soil. The best size for growing blueberries depends on the variety which you are growing in the raised bed. 

The general estimate for the size of the raised bed is about 8-12 high and the width of the bed should be 2-5 inches. Remember, you can’t maintain the plants in a wider raised bed. 

If the width of the raised bed is too large then you have no access to the middle plants. So the width should be 2 to 5 inches so you can take care of plants which are grown in the center. 

The high bush of the blueberry plants can reach a height from 5 to 9 feet. The low bush category can be grown up to 18 inches tall. So decide the size according to the size of your variety of blueberries. 

WHEN TO PLANT BLUEBERRIES?

Blueberries are included in those superfoods which have a treasure of nutrients and vitamins. They are high in antioxidants and fiber. If you provide the right conditions to them then you can easily grow them in your growing area. The main question is when to plant them in your raised bed. 

  • The best time for planting blueberries is Spring but you can also plant them in late fall if you are living in zone 5 then you have to wait for the mid-spring to plant.
  • The best way is to buy a 1 to 3-year-old plant because you will start getting berries. It is suggested that you should buy a plant in a container or bare root from a reputable nursery.

CHOOSING THE BEST SITE FOR YOUR RAISED BED FOR GROWING BLUEBERRIES

  • You should select a sunny but sheltered spot for growing blueberries. Blueberries can tolerate shade but they will produce juicy fruit when they get the maximum amount of sunlight. You should select that spot which prevents them from harsh weather. Harsh and drying winds are not good for your berry plants as they can damage the plants.
  • The location which you used for your race should not be under the Shady trees because they will block the sunlight.
  • The bed which you built for growing raspberries should be 8 to 12 inches high and 2 to 5 feet wide. If you are using garden soil in the raised bed then the pH of the soil must be 4.5 to 5.5. For knowing the pH of the soil you have to make a soil test so you should know better about your soil. If the pH of the soil falls below 4.0 then you can add dolomite limestone for raising the pH level of the soil. If the pH of the squirrel is above 5.5 then you can add sulfur and ammonium sulfate or peat moss. Blueberries like to thrive in acidic soil.

THE BEST VARIETIES OF BLUEBERRIES  FOR RAISED BED

Homegrown berries are a treat for you. It has a sweet-tart flavor. Some dwarf varieties are best for growing in a raised bed. Here we are going to give you some options. 

TOP HAT

If the size of your raised bed is very small then you can grow this variety. You can even grow these petite plants in pots. They like full sun exposure and tolerate partial sun. 

This is a self-pollinating dwarf variety and can be grown on its own. Although the size of this variety is small, it can produce full-size blueberries. You can harvest it in July and August.

BILOXI

If you are living in that climate where the temperature at night doesn’t fall below the freezing point then blueberries will give you more fruit. In a cooler climate, you can also get some fruit. 

The size of fruit that you get from this variety is medium and you can harvest it early in the season. This variety likes to grow in acidic soil with full sun.

PINK POPCORN

The color of berries of this variety is pink but gives you the same flavor. Pink popcorn can grow up to 5 feet tall. It likes to grow in acidic soil with even moisture. 

The growth speed of this variety is medium and gives you white flowers with dark green foliage. You can harvest it in the early to midseason and get more fruit from this variety. Disease and self-pollinating are prominent qualities of this pink popcorn.

POWDER BLUE

The height of this word can be 6 to 10 feet. The growth rate of powder blue is medium and gives you white stunning flowers in late spring to early summer. 

When fall comes the green foliage of the variety will turn into red and yellow. Powder blue is sweeter than other varieties and you can harvest it later in the growing season. You can also store it in your freezer.

LEGACY

The large berries of this variety have sweetness and extraordinary taste. The height of this variety can be 6 feet and spread up to 6 feet. Legacy gives you a higher yield and you can harvest it in the late midseason. It can store well.

PREPARING THE RAISED BED FOR PLANTING

There are many benefits of raised beds as you can control the nutrients in the soil easily which is not possible in-ground beds. Before planting, you have to fill the raised bed with soil. 

Before filling the raised bed you should follow the hugelkultur method and put logs at the bottom of the raised bed. After that spread a layer of banana stalks and leaves in the crushed form. It is suggested that don’t use regular soil but buy commercial soil which is designed to grow plants. 

PLANTING

You should not plant blueberries too deeply in the raised bed. The root ball of the plant should be planted one quarter to one half in below the surface of the soil. Here we are going to tell you all the simple steps about planting Blueberry bushes in the raised bed.

  • Dig holes in the soil of the raised bed which is about 20 inches deep and 18 inches wide. You can also dig the hole according to the size of the plant which you buy from the nursery.
  • You should prepare a planting mixture which you will place in the bottom of the hole. For making a planting mixture you need two parts of loam and one part of oak leaf mold, peat moss, aged sawdust, and compost.
  • Now set the plant in the hole and pack the hole tightly with the soil.
  • Water the new plant so it will set in the soil and a new environment.
  • You can fulfill the need for nutrients by applying fertilizer but once a month after planting. Avoid using fertilizer at the time of planting. The amount of fertilizer should be half an ounce of 10 10 10 fertilizer around the plant 6 to 12 inches from the crown.

HOW TO CARE FOR BLUEBERRY PLANTS?

  • As is mentioned above your blueberry plants need moist soil. It is suggested that you should spread a layer of mulch on the top of the soil so it will help to retain moisture in the bed. You can use wood chips, pine needles, and sawdust for spreading mulch above the surface of the soil around the trunk of the plant. The layer can be 2 to 4 inches thick but remember to leave space so your plant will not become suffocated and they get proper air.
  • Make sure your blueberry plants get into 2 inches every week.
  • The birds like blueberries as a snack so you should use bird netting for protecting your plants from these hungry birds.
  • After one year you can apply one ounce of  10-10-10 fertilizers per bush in spring at the time of blooming. Increase the amount of fertilizer year after year, 8 ounces is enough for mature plants.
  • Your new plant should not produce fruit in the first year. The new plant should use all the energy for establishing a new home and setting in the new environment. So if you see any blooms then pinch them back so the plant can use its power on growing stronger rather than producing fruit.

HOW TO PRUNE BLUEBERRY PLANTS?

Now we will discuss when to prune your blueberry plants. 

  • For the first 4 years after planting your blueberry plants don’t need any pruning. After that pruning is crucial so it will encourage the growth of new shoots which produce juicy treats for you. 
  • The best time of pruning is late winter or early spring when the new growth starts.
  • If you see any dead, broken, short, week and spindly shoots then cut them.
  • If you are growing tall varieties then you need large cuts. You should cut all the woods which are 6 years older, crowding the center of the bush or growing towards the ground. 

HOW TO HARVEST BLUEBERRIES?

Now, this is the time to pick your juicy berries.

  • Between June and August, your blueberries are ready for picking.
  • When you see the color of berries is turning blue then don’t rush to pick them. Your fruit will soon be in your hand for eating so don’t worry and wait with patience.
  • Keep in your mind that you will get full production after a 6-year-old plant. If you are planting a 2 years old plant then wait for a year and allow the plant to give fruit in the second year. The first year is necessary for establishing them in a new environment.

HOW TO STORE BLUEBERRIES?

It is better to eat blueberries when they are fresh but you can freeze them in the freezer for future use.

AVOID THESE MISTAKES DURING PLAITING BLUEBERRIES

At a beginner level, you have to avoid following mistakes when you are growing blueberries in a raised bed.

ONLY PLANTING ONE BLUEBERRY 

Most of the blueberries are not self-pollinating plants that is why you should plant at least two different varieties in the same raised bed. 

NOT CHECKING THE SOIL BEFORE PLANTING YOUR BLUEBERRIES

 The soil of the raised bed must be acidic for growing blueberries. The pH level of the soil is very important.  The plants of blueberries last for many years so you should give your time to start them.

NOT MULCHING YOUR BLUEBERRY BED

The roots of the blueberry plant are very shallow. That’s why you should spread a layer of mulch to protect the soil from evaporation. There is another benefit of which is that it can prevent your plants from weeds. Weeds are not good for your blueberry bushes because they cannot compete for water and nutrients.

PLANTING YOUR BLUEBERRIES IN A POORLY DRAINED LOCATION

Blueberries don’t like overwatering and they like to grow in well-drained soil. 

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