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This essay is meant to give a clear guideline on the steps taken in growing blueberries, in a backyard garden. The Information in herein will prove invaluable for anyone interested in gardening and generally fruit cultivation and care. It is common to find well kept backyard gardens that will mostly grow vegetables like tomatoes and onions for use in the kitchen. In rare occasions, a home gardener will venture into growing fruit trees even though they would have done very well if grown. Blueberries do not require too much tendering and thus are easy to grow. The paper will outline the steps that if followed can give one maximum yield for their input

             Just like a bigger majority of Americans, I had little knowledge on gardening let alone growing blueberries. I have always thought that blueberries grow on vines like grapes and passion fruits. I always thought that all berries were related and were thus grown under the same conditions and in the same regions. In addition to this, I had a misconception that they could be harvested in less than three months and could be grown in any state. My belief that they had a short life was based on the belief that they were just vines and so could be harvested three to four times at most. I thought that there was only one variety.

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. The importance of a person having knowledge on certain activities that are easily ignored like gardening cannot be stressed enough. People have taken up gardening part time and reaped great harvests. Some people take up small scale gardening as a hobby and they excel very well in it, because of papers like this one that provide a clear guide on the steps one should take. Let us also not forget that a little knowledge a day goes a long way.

            In the research phase, I chose to begin with the easiest way to familiarize myself with the topic, the internet. Articles from the University of Minnesota website proved the most informative. This can be attributed to the fact that the university lies within the region and as I was later to know, The University leads in blueberry research. This led me to my next method. Well informed about the Blueberry plant, I sort to find books and publications on the same. The Minnesota horticulturalist: volume 54 by Minnesota State Horticultural Society and Growing fruits in upper the Midwest by Donald Gordon were an invaluable source of information. Magazines on fruit gardening also proved to be a good source.

I engaged interview technique on a sample of people. This proved futile because people in this region had little knowledge on this matter. I went further to interview people who had gardens, and I got a few points on gardening. The books were the best sources of general information and were only rivaled by the internet on grounds that inernet sources were updated.

            The data collected clearly illustrates how to grow and tender for blueberries in a backyard garden. The first step is establishing the patch to grow and in this case on the garden. Two-year-old blueberry plants cost between $1 and $2. The popularity of blueberry gardening is attributed to the fact that they require a small space to be grown. They can be grown in containers. It is worth noting that blueberries are of three varieties and choice has to be made on what to grow. This is because; the varieties thrive differently in different regions. The varieties are rabbiteye, the highbush and the southern highbush.

            A sunny location is the ideal site for growing blueberries. The Plants will tolerate partial shade, but too much shade will lead to plants producing fewer fruits and a reduced blossom. Areas surrounded by trees are to be avoided as they compete with plants for water and  soil nutrients and provided too much shade. The trees also interfere with air movement around blueberry plants which in turn increases the risk of spring frost injury to blossoms while favoring the development of diseases. This is during late April or early May. Next is to break the soil to a 12-inch depth using a garden spade or garden fork.

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The soil PH must then be tested using a PH test kit. Your plant will do well in acidic soils with a pH between 4.0 and 5.0. Note that most Minnesota soil is PH 7.0 and it is important that you treat it. If the pH is too high, plant growth is slowed, it will be noted that the foliage turns to yellow then brown. If this goes on for an extended period of time, the plants will die. (Minnesota. Dept. of Natural Resources 323). In most cases, it will have PH above 5.0 so treat with peat moss paying close attention to the instructions on the pack. In case a container is to be used the soil is treated before being packed into the container.

The hole should be twice as big as the container holding the seed. The depth of the whole should equal that of the holding container. Take great care in removing the young plant from the holding container and place in the hole or container to plant in. In case you want to grow two plants, allow spacing of 4-5 feet. Spacing plants about 4-5 feet apart in rows that are 9-10 feet apart is advised in planting in rows. Pack the hole around the plant with soil and press to remove any trapped soil. Watering generously during the growing period ensures good initial growth. Minnesota rainfall averages at 26 inches, which is not, adequate for growth of young plants that require at least 2 inches of rainfall per week. Watering for the first two seasons is thus advised. (eHow.com    http://www.ehow.com/how).

 

Once the plant is in the ground, muulching should be done to protect the roots from the sun and winter snow. A three inch mulch of sawdust is the best solution as it also helps in drainage.

In spring, get rid of all blooms that will appear using fingers. This practice will increase the plants vigor. Harvest ripe berries as they turn blue around late summer and early fall. Tasting is a better way of determining whether they are ripe. For the sweetest fruits, give an allowance of two weeks. Eight quarts of berries per are what a mature plant should produce.

            In Minnesota, blueberry bushes die back naturally during the late fall. Pruning is done after they have grown for 5 years since the bushes are slow growers. Pruning done using shears, involves the removal of diseased or even dead branches, it helps prevent diseases like cankers. Even as much as watering is very important, take good care not to over saturate the soil. Do not water to the point where you can see pools of water on the surface.

Examine the plants for diseases like cankers whose first appearance is small, red, discolored swellings on the plants stem. The margins of the infected part will remain red as the part enlarges and the region turns gray and then brown. Watch out for this symptom close to the ground level but beware that they could also appear on the stem too. Girdled sections of the plant die off as they turn brown and it is important that they are cut off some inches from the healthy part to avoid further infection.

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Cultivars have been released whenever need arises to combat such diseases, which appear as, outbreaks. Six cultivars suitable for planting in Minnesota have been released by The University of Minnesota fruit breeding program. Northland cultivar is another one from The University of Michigan and it does very well on Minnesota soil. It is wise to plant at least two varieties, as bigger and a higher fruit yield is observed, if fertilization occurs between two varieties. Pollinators will help in the reproduction stage; bumblebees and other native insects are common pollinators of blueberries. These insect are thus encouraged as the more pollination there is, the higher the yield.

This new knowledge has enlightened me on the various aspects of backyard gardening. I am more informed and given an opportunity I would like to have a small garden with six blueberry bushes. I am more knowledgeable as I have acquired some very useful skills in gardening. I believe that I have developed a new interest in gardening and I would like to put this to practice, in the near future.

This new information has given me a whole different view on gardening. It has even challenged me as a student to develop my own interests and work on them. I now understand that science has been used extensively to help gardening in that different cultivars are produced regularly to meet regional demands.

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