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BLUEBERRY (highbush blueberry)

Size: 1.2 m to 1.8 m by 90 cm to 1.2 m (4 to 6 ft by 3 to 4 ft), depending on variety.

Pollination: Self-fertile.

Climate preferred: Cool temperate to temperate.

Aspect: Sunny or partial shade, but sheltered from strong winds.

Soil: Acid, peaty soil which retains moisture.

Yield: Four bushes will provide enough fruit for the average family.

Planting and cultivation

The highbush blueberry is an American relative of the European bilberry. However, its fruit is vastly superior. The soil should be prepared by adding plenty of peat, and the bushes should be planted between late autumn and early spring, spacing them 90cm to 1.2 m (3 to 4ft) apart. If your garden soil is alkaline, it is best to grow your blueberries in tubs 45 cm (18 in) in diameter, containing potting mixture which has been enriched with peat. In early spring give the bushes an annual feed of general fertilizer at the rate of 70gm per sq m (2oz per sq yd). In mid-spring surround the bushes with a thick layer of moist moss peat. If you have to water the bushes during dry spells, try to use water from a rainwater butt, not tap water.

Harvesting

Pick the berries while still firm for jam-making; for dessert, allow the berries to become soft and fully ripe.

Pruning and training

Pruning is unnecessary, but some of the older wood can be cut away in winter once the bushes have started to produce substantial crops.

Pests and diseases

Birds (netting is vital to protect the fruit). Otherwise trouble free.

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