I've been growing Blueberries for 4 years now. 2010 will be my 5th year of harvesting fresh juicy berries in summer, a handful at a time to add to my breakfast cereal or my fruit salad. They taste completely different and have tons more flavour than those dark round berries available in the supermarket, so why not give one of the many varieties that are now available a try this year. - Here's how to grow Blueberries.
Blueberries are acid loving plants, like Rhododendrons and Azaleas, - but as my soil is very chalky, i've grown mine in pots, and found that they love John Innes Ericaceous compost, with a leaf mould top dress each year.
This means that they are ideal fruit if you've got a balcony or patio garden, and they form a well shaped shrub with white flowers in spring, and with the fruit being produced over about 4 weeks in July and August, it means you have a month of picking ripe warm sweet berries in the morning.
I've found that they are easy to look after, - i've fed mine each season with food from my worm bin, and watered them from the waterbutt where possible as they won't like hard water. - They are quite thirsty while the fruit is being formed, - my crop in the 2nd year wasn't as good as I ignored the plant, so they do benefit from you giving a bucket of water a week in the hottest months.
I started out with the variety Bluecrop, which gave me about a punnet of blueberries in its first year, and then has produced about 4 punnets a year since them. I then added Goldtraube 2 years ago. The first year, the birds got most of my crop of blueberries mostly before they were ripe, - so last year I draped netting over the plants as soon as the berries formed, and got a wonderful harvest, which also won me a second prize at the local horticultural show (i'm sure i'd have got 1st if i'd have known to leave the stalks on!) Last year I added Blueberry Chandler, and this spring i'm expecting an arrival of Blueberry Darrow. This should mean that I get blueberries from the middle of July through to the middle of September. I might even get enough to be able to freeze them.
If you'd like to try and grow Blueberries this year, they are still available at the moment. I'd buy plants that are already in their 3rd year, - about 4-5litre pot size. - They should cost between £11 and £15. - if you get smaller or cheaper plants, you will have to wait several years for fruit, - but with punnets of blueberries costing between £2&£3 - your investment in a blueberries will be well repaid within a couple of years.
If I haven't convinced you yet, - then the Blueberry (Vaccinium) family have one last surprise to ensure they become a firm favorite in your garden. As if great flavored fruit wasn't enough, they have great autumn leaf colour.