Although it’s only spring, my mind is already dreaming of the fabulous Midwest summer! For me, a summer in Iowa wouldn’t be complete without fresh berries to usher in the season. A particular favorite of mine is the blueberry! In the early years, blueberries were a rare treat only to be found in the wild. Over the years, scientists discovered ways to grow the wild berry, making it easier for homeowners to grow their own delicious jewels right in their backyard. The blueberry bush itself also adds an attractive touch to any landscape with scarlet foliage in the fall and fresh white flowers in the spring.
There are two varieties that excel in the Iowa climate:
-Great for southern and central Iowa
-Should be planted 4-6 feet apart
-Grow to a height of 6-8 feet tall
-Can produce 5-10 pounds per plant
-Great for northern Iowa
-Should be planted 3-4 feet apart
-Grow to a height of 2-3 feet tall
-Can produce 1-3pounds per plant
When planting blueberries, it should be noted that they require a sunny location, well-drained acidic soil and the proper soil pH of 4.0-5.5. Blueberries are susceptible to root rot if not placed in well-drained soil. The pH is also vital to the plant’s success. You may need to adjust your pH level to provide the best environment for growing. You can read more about adjusting soil pH for blueberries here.
Additional things to note about growing your own blueberries:
-Plant two to three bushes for good pollination and optimal fruit production.
– Mulch around the bush at a height of 2-4 inches to help the bush retain moisture when dry weather hits.
-Don’t allow the bush to produce fruit for the first two years after being planted. Remove any blossoms that appear so the plant can focus solely on vegetation support and health.
-Expect to see full production by your fifth or sixth year.
If growing your own blueberries is not on your current gardening bucket list, you can still enjoy the flavor of fresh picked berries by finding a pick your own farm near you by checking out a list of u-pick farms in Iowa. Or, if you’re feeling up for baking, the Blueberry Swirl Cheesecake recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction is a favorite of mine. When my sister lived in the Netherlands, a woman she knew there made this for my sister to celebrate her birthday and remind her of home. After tasting the wonderful dessert, my sister told me that we had to get together upon her return to make the cheesecake together. We held to that promise, and it was not only a fun bonding experience, but the resulting cheesecake was so delicious! I have since made it many times and even experimented with other fruit like raspberries and cherries.
Ready to start your own garden and harvest some tasty treats? Learn more about our Garden Center here. We would love to hear from you and help you on your venture into gardening! I also love to talk gardening so feel free to drop me a note.