Blueberries in Spain
Are you missing the blueberries from home and wondered if it would be possible to grow blueberries here in Spain? The answer is YES!
Southern highbush blueberry varieties were developed by crossing northern highbush blueberries with several southern species for superior fruit, soil adaptability and heat tolerance.
With the introduction of these varieties in the ´90s, blueberry culture in Spain has increased dramatically, and is likely to continue to do so.
They look great in shrub borders, as part of less formal shrub plantings, or planted in conjunction with rhododendrons and azaleas, which share similar acidic soil requirements.
Southern highbush plants are often semi-deciduous; in mild winter areas they may or may not remain evergreen and they have low winter chilling requirements (Chilling is a measure of accumulated hours of temperatures below 7°C in the dormant season).
According to the planted variety, they need only between 200 to 500 hours. The plants are very productive and produce very tasty, early season fruit. Some well-adapted cultivars include: O´Neal, Misty, Star, Bluebush, Jewel, and Ojo de Conejo (Rabbiteye) varieties.
Blueberries are best grown in acidic (pH 4.8-5.2), organically rich, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. In pots, plants flourish in an azalea/camellia planting mix.
The shallow, fibrous roots need consistent moisture. Irrigate frequently to keep the growing medium moist but not wet, and mulch well. Blueberries prefer rainwater.
If that is not possible, leave a bucket full of water in the sun for a few days for the chloride to evaporate before using.
Blueberries usually fruit the third season after planting. Flower buds will develop on second-year plants, but it is best to remove these to encourage plant growth in the second season.
The plants easily live 20-30 years.
Highbush blueberries require annual pruning to prevent overbearing, maintain vigor, and produce high quality fruit.
Prune plants as needed in late winter beginning the third year after planting. “Summer topping” (top pruning) is used to stimulate vegetative growth and should be done soon after harvest.
Use a high-nitrogen, acidifying fertilizer, such as ammonium sulfate or a food formulated for shade plants for monthly feedings from early spring through early fall.
If the plant experiences chlorosis, which leads to yellowing of new leaves, also fertilize with iron sulfate or iron chelate.
For sweeter fruit, spray with liquid organic potassium during the fruiting season. Once a month while the berries are green and then every week during ripening and picking season.
There are no serious insect or disease problems. Pest control on blueberries is minimal, and routine fungicide and insecticide applications are not commonly needed.
However, birds love the fruit so bird control is the major issue, particularly on small plantings. Netting or scaring devices are two options to consider.
If you are in search of a snack that can improve your health, boost your brainpower and make your taste buds happy, a bowlful of blueberries might be your best bet.
Once seen as little more than a perfunctory pie filling, blueberries have become a fashionable fruit having a comeback as a direct result of health reports hailing them as one of the world’s most beneficial “superfoods”.
The health studies revealed that blueberries have the highest concentration of antioxidants of any fruit.
Antioxidants help the circulation and help protect against cancer, heart disease and ageing. In recent years, blueberries have also been elevated to the status of brain food.
A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that the colourful fruit can help prevent – and even reverse – some age-related memory decline and improve learning by enhancing communication among brain cells.
Some experts speculate that they may even stimulate the growth of new brain cells.
Supermarket buyers predict that blueberries could soon rival bananas and strawberries as the favourite fruit. But why buy them when you can start growing your own?
Marc Vijverberg and Gurli Jakobsen
Guardamar del Segura
Growing blueberry bushes from seed
This video gives advice on how to remove seeds from your blueberries without a blender and germinate them.
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