Kids grow Blueberries

Kids can plant the right variety of blueberries for their region in containers on the patio. Blueberries, natives of North America, are beautiful plants all year round. Kids can grow this superfood by planting at least two varieties for better pollination and a higher yield. Blueberries are very high in antioxidants that combat many diseases and high in pectin that aids in digestion and lowers cholesterol. A couple of blueberry bushes can produce 10 to 12 pints of blueberries a year. They grow well in raised beds or pots in consistently moist acidic soil with acidic fertilizer and afternoon shade. Blueberries fruit on last year’s wood, so lightly prune in July cutting only dead wood and cross branches. They have many shallow surface roots and a symbiotic relationship with a fungus living in their root systems which provides nutrients for the plant. Kids can mulch with hardwood bark and pine needles to conserve moisture and reduce weeds. Soaker hoses placed around the plants supply the constant water they need. Blueberries have few diseases or insects that bother them, especially when they have well drained soil and good air circulation. Sunshine Blue is a semi dwarf variety growing to 3 feet in warmer climates with sweet medium sized berries that produces well in patio and deck containers. Local favorite varieties are Southmoon, Emerald, and Star. There is a narrow window for fruit bearing and the season runs from mid April to mid July. Birds love blueberries as much as kids. Cover the plants with netting before the berries start to ripen using PVC pipe to build a canopy as the blueberry branches can be brittle. Allow the berries to ripen on the bush for at least a week after they turn blue until the blue skins are covered in a thin waxy coating, called a bloom, and are at their peak. Kids love to harvest a basket of blueberries on a warm summer day, eating them fresh from the bush. Kids can put some blueberries directly into the freezer to make pies and jams at a later time.

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