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Learn how to grow blueberries and raspberries in your garden or yard. They’re packed full of antioxidants and flavor and can be utilized and preserved in so many different ways.
When my husband and I began planning our little homestead, the first thing I knew we needed ASAP were some garden boxes and a row of blueberries and raspberries. One of our goals with our little homestead is to be more self-reliant. Current world circumstances have proved that we can’t always rely on grocery stores to have all the food we need. We also can’t control what stores will charge us when demand is high and supply is low. Nothing would be better than being able to eat fresh berries all summer without paying a dime! You can grow berries in almost any size yard, and I’ll show you how to get started.
WHY SHOULD YOU GROW BLUEBERRIES AND RASPBERRIES IN YOUR GARDEN?
There are many reasons to grow blueberries and raspberries in your garden or yard. The first being that homegrown berries plucked straight from the bush taste like heaven (or at least like candy!)
Berries are also full of nutrients to keep you healthy. Blueberries contain antioxidants, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, folate, Vitamin B6, zinc and Vitamin K. Raspberries also contain antioxidants, including Vitamin C, Vitamin E, selenium, beta carotene, lutein, lycopene, and zeaxanthin. Both types of berries are an excellent way to add fiber to your diet. If the grocery store ever has a shortage of fresh fruit and berries, rest assured you will still be able to keep your family healthy with your own homegrown blueberries and raspberries!
Growing your own blueberries and raspberries will save you money over time. The cost of buying the plants and keeping them healthy over many years will be less than buying the same amount of berries from the grocery store. They are the plant that keeps on giving because you only have to plant them once and will reap the benefits for many, many years to come.
Blueberries and raspberries can be used in a multitude of different ways: eat fresh as a snack or side dish; add to smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, granola and ice cream; bake into cobblers, crisps, pancakes, muffins, scones and pie; turn into jam; dehydrate and add to trail mix or make a fruit salad. Here is my very favorite fruit salad which incorporates blueberries and raspberries.
HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR BLUEBERRY AND RASPBERRY PLANTS
The first thing you need to know about blueberries is that you must buy at least two different varieties and plant them near each other. This allows them to cross-pollinate and produce bigger, more plentiful berries.
The best way I have found to choose the right berries for your climate is to visit your local nursery. They carry varieties that work for your local conditions. I chose 4 different blueberry varieties that have slightly different ripening seasons. I selected 3 different raspberry varieties that also have various ripening times, so we should have fresh raspberries to eat from June until the first frost. I’m looking forward to tasting the different types of berries!
Read the tag on the plants carefully to see how big they will grow. If you have a homestead, it probably doesn’t matter if your blueberry bush grows 6 feet wide and 8 feet tall. But if you need to incorporate your bushes into your backyard landscaping, you’ll want to find smaller versions.
WHERE TO PLANT YOUR BLUEBERRIES AND RASPBERRIES
Blueberries and raspberries like a lot of sun, so find an area in your garden that will have at least 6-8 hours of sun a day. These berries don’t like a lot of wind, so it’s a good idea to plant them where they can have some shelter, such as next to a fence. Just make sure the fence won’t block their sunlight. We don’t have a fence or any sort of shelter in our yard since we’re beginning our homestead from scratch, so I’m crossing my fingers my little berry plants will be resilient enough to withstand our windy weather.
Think of blueberries like you would any other ornamental shrub. They will grow and mature and be part of your yard for the long term. You won’t need to prune them at all in the first 5 years. Raspberries, on the other hand, grow new canes every season. They also shoot out new raspberry plants called “starts”. You can plant these starts in other areas of your garden, add to the raspberries you’re already growing, or give away to friends who would like to start a raspberry patch. Keep this in mind when choosing where you will plant your raspberries. If you plant them too close to grass, you will have to pull out the starts or mow over them.
Your blueberries and raspberries should come with a tag that tells you how wide they will grow. If your blueberry bush will grow 6 feet wide, you need to measure at least 6 feet between bushes when planting.
HOW TO PLANT YOUR BLUEBERRIES AND RASPBERRIES
Blueberries like acidic soil and raspberries like it slightly acidic. Our local nursery recommended an organic planting mix made for acid-loving plants. These plants also need good drainage. If you don’t have sandy soil that drains well, consider adding peat moss which aids in drainage.
When planting blueberries, dig a hole that is twice as deep and twice as wide as your plant’s root ball. Raspberries don’t need a hole quite as big.
I poured part of the acidic planting mix and some peat moss into the hole and mixed them together before adding back any soil. I placed the blueberry plant in the hole and checked to make sure the top of the roots was level with the ground. You do not want any part of your blueberry bush covered except for the roots. For raspberries, you want the area where the roots and stem meet to stick up above the soil line a couple of inches.
Make sure your plant is centered in the hole, then fill it in with the rest of the dirt and compact it with a shovel.
After planting, you may want to add mulch around your blueberries and raspberries. This will help them hold on to moisture so they don’t dry out as quickly.
I hope you feel confident enough to consider growing blueberries and raspberries in your own garden or yard. If you want fresh berries from your own backyard, I urge you to get started as soon as possible!