Plant of the month: Pick your own blueberries

Grow an easy-care blueberry plant for pick-your-own goodness at home.

Blueberries are one of the easiest berries to grow at home – they’re good-looking plants with a pretty flower, they don’t need spraying or staking, and unlike many other berries they’re not thorny. You can even grow one in a big pot, but for those with more space they make an excellent hedge you can harvest.

Although you can grow blueberries in all parts of New Zealand, some prefer colder weather to perform well, so check out which type (rabbiteye, lowbush or highbush) is best suited to your region. There are masses of different varieties – Incredible Edibles sell 16 different varieties through garden centres nationwide. If you’ve got room, plant a couple of varieties of the same type, which will help with cross-pollination and give you a better crop.

Plant blueberries in soil enriched with organic matter, such as compost or sheep pellets. They like an acidic soil, so if your soil is alkaline, you could add peat, and they need plenty of water to form plump berries.

North American indigenous people have known the value of blueberries for millennia, storing them for winter when food supplies were low. Now scientists have pinned down why they’re such a good food. They’re low in sugar, high in fibre, and rich in all sorts of antioxidants and phytochemicals, which have health-giving properties.

Supermarket blueberries can be pricey, so a blueberry plant is a good investment. Kids will love to eat them straight off the bush, you can throw them in lunch boxes, mix them into bircher muesli, add them to muffins or crumbles and freeze them for smoothies.


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