Grow Your Own: Blueberries (A Modern ‘Super Food’)

Fruit_BlueberryIt’s inevitable that each New Year we will constantly read and see ways in which we must improve our lifestyle and become healthier all around. In gardening terms this often means going “organic” and what can be more organic than growing your own fruit and vegetables. There are of course many wonderful choices of fruit and vegetables to get you started, and personal choice should always be the best reasoning for choice. Reading through the usual Sunday papers in early January got me thinking about my own personal favourites, and right up there on top of my list has to be the Blueberry, or Vaccinium to give them their proper name.Great tasting fruit to give you a health kick

The deliciously sweet tasting fruit grown from the Blueberry bush is the most appealing part of this summer fruit. The lovely small, round and colourful fruit appears in abundance throughout the summer, into autumn, providing months and months of enjoyment. Almost all Blueberry shrubs are self-fertile, but to enhance production and yield then why not try growing with partners/pairs. By planting with multiple varieties and various harvesting dates, this allows you to extend the season and allow for more wonderful fruit. Once established and properly cared for they will fruit easily year on year. By growing fruit yourself you can allow them to fully ripen on the vine prior to harvesting for a sweeter taste, a luxury that many large scale growers cannot achieve due to economic restrictions.

We have all come to refer to the Blueberry has one of the most healthy fruits around and it’s easy to see why. Recent research have helped shine light on the high levels of antioxidants, minerals and vitamin C present within Blueberries and often sees this labelled as a modern day ‘Super Food’. By growing your own fruit you control the level of pesticides used within your product, a major concern for many when buying mass produced products.


Blueberry_DixiHow to grow your own Blueberries

Blueberries are versatile enough to accommodate growing in the ground or in containers spread out around the patio. Planting in acidic soil is vital to the success of Blueberries, with a PH level of four/five. Make sure the soil is well aerated and rich in humus. If planting in containers then make sure they are large enough to allow the roots to fully spread, and add a handful of crocs or pebbles to the bottom of the container.

Looking after Blueberries is relatively easy and suitable for all skill levels. Make sure the soil is kept moist throughout, but never allowed to become waterlogged. Many organic gardeners choice to use recycled or rain water instead of tap water, to save the environment and in fact this should help keep PH level of the soil a little more balanced. We suggest applying a liquid feed once a month to help encourage larger and more successful fruit.


Top Varieties to Try

1. Blueberry Top HatThe versatile and compact Blueberry Top Hat produces white flowers during spring which develop slowly into fruits come summer before its foliage finally turns reddish-green as autumn approaches. One of our best-selling varieties, the Top Hat Blueberry plant will thrive in a patio container, and grows to a mature height of just 50cm tall making it the perfect choice where space in minimal.

 

2. Blueberry Pink LemonadeBlush white flowers are followed by flavoured and good textured Pink Blueberries in August. Although self-fertile, you can plant in pairs to achieve a greater crop. A real garden novelty, equally effective as an ornamental shrub with all year round interest. Height 1.5m.  

 

 

3. Blueberry Spartan (Early season Flowering)Blueberry Spartan is a popular early fruiting variety, reaching heights of 1m. The fruit is high in Vitamin C and can be eaten fresh of the tree or for culinary purposes such as creating a pie or tart. Pot grown plants supplied.

 

4. Blueberry Dixi (Late season flowering)The versatile and compact Blueberry Late Season Fruiting Dixi shrub, also known as the ‘vaccinium corymbosum’, is an intensely flavoured variety, producing fruit in August and September as well as fragrant foliage which is highly attractive to bees and other pollinators.

 

5. Blueberry Giant Patriot The largest and juiciest of all blueberry shrubs, Patriot fruits July/August. Blueberry Giant Patriot produces some of the largest and most flavoursome fruits of all blueberry varieties. This impressive specimen  produces fragrant foliage which is highly attractive to bees and other pollinators. Grows to a mature height of one metre, supplied as a 9cm potted plant.

Fruit & Veg: What to Grow in your Allotment this Year

AllotmentAs more and more people are actively taking an interest in looking after their health and the food that they eat, the UK is rapidly seeing an increase in the use of allotments in urban areas. These little pieces of oasis in built up, often highly populated areas offer a superb way of getting back in touch with nature, growing your own fruit and vegetables and creating an area which allows you relax and enjoy the peace and quiet.Allotments are often allocated to people by their local councils, and one of their key benefits is that they bring people together, allow people to enjoy a shared space and also to share ideas/tips. I love the thought, at the end of the week watching people locally escape to their allotment, getting stuck in and trying to create (and maintain) something wonderful. The maintenance can at times be time consuming and hard work (especially trying to keep on top of those dreaded weeds), but the rewards really can be worth the effort.


What to grow in the allotment this year?

Now summer is almost here, there is still the opportunity to get the allotment into shape and start to transform the area. Don’t worry if the area is small, you

Allotment 2

can still grow many varieties of fruit and vegetables in even the smallest of sections.Walking past the allotments near my house recently I stopped and began to chat to a local lady who had made such a lovely, open planned display of her own space. She had Strawberry plants growing in almost perfectly controlled rows, raised beds with Potatoes growing from seed, Blueberry and Blackberry plants growing in containers by a bench, Vegetables on show in garden shed (almost ready to come outside) and she also had a penned in area for her own chickens (seven of them no less).This got me thinking about what would be worth a try this year if you have the space available and here are some top suggestions and tips:

1. Grow some Strawberry Pineberry in multiple rows. Supplied as 7cm pot plants for easy planting, try growing in rows for a successful large crop. Each plant should be space around 40cm apart in a straight line, with around 60-70cm between each row. Strawberry Pineberry is a real novelty, with the look and feel of a white Strawberry but with a smell and taste more closely associated with a pineapple.

2. So if your garden needs a fresh look and feel then why not also make these changes productive by planting your very own Apple Trees. Their striking spring blossoms are a valuable bonus to the allotment, but ultimately it is the crop from this mini fruit orchard that is appealing. Plant your Apple trees in an area with has as much sun as possible, as the more sun they get the healthier the tree will grow. My personal favourite is Apple James Grieve, because of the juicy taste. Grow the varieties you like, that’s the best advice anyone can offer when growing fruit and vegetables.
Asparagus3. Asparagus are becoming all the rage in Britain and a beautiful vegetable to accompany most dishes.  Plant in a trench approx 5-6inches deep with the crowns covered by 2inches of fine soil. As the plants grow, the trench should be filtered gradually and should be level by the autumn. You can choose from three varieties to cover the full season, the early yielding Gijnlim, mid season yielding ‘Herkolim’ and the late season yielding ‘Backlim’.

4. Create your own Herb Garden in containers and pots.

By growing your own herbs you can easily improve your culinary skills and become more creative. Growing herbs is easy and low maintenance and because you can grow them in containers they can easily be moved around the allotment. Basil ‘Wild Magic’ really caught our eye last summer as a standout new variety to try. Not only is it extremely tasty and heavily scented, but it makes a fantastic ornamental plant with extremely dark green leaves tinged with purple and purple flowers throughout summer.5. Miniature Plum ‘Black Amber’ can be grown in containers or in the ground. Smaller than your average Plum trees, they are ideal for an allotment where space can be at a premium. Growing in pairs will add effective spring blossom in spring and dark-purple thick skinned fruit will pop up in late summer and early autumn. Miniature Plum Trees are a must for lovers of plum trees.

6. Blueberry ‘Pink Lemonade’ are another unusual twist to a popular soft fruit. Blush white flowers are followed by sweetly flavoured and good textured Pink Blueberries in August. A real garden novelty, equally effective as an ornamentalshrub with all year round interest.

Fig Ficus carica Panachée nr 3

7. Striped Tiger Fig is a reliable cropping dwarf fruit tree that produce unusually striped figs on miniature stems. They love fertile, humus rich soil or if planting up into containers you can use a loam based potting compost.

 

 

 

8. Goji Berry (The Miracle Berry), or Lycium Barbarum, to give it its full name can be introduce because of the incredibly high levels of vitamin C and antioxidants found within each berry produced. A very easy plant to succeed with, they will fruit from their second season onwards with a significantly higher yield year after year. A very popular, pleasant tasting fruit that can be eaten straight of the vine, with an almost herbal scent. Originating in the Himalaya, it can easily be added to breakfast cereal, yoghurts, fruit salads.

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