Photo: Oxmoor House
SEASON: Growing from Florida to Maine and west to Washington, blueberries vary greatly in type. Ripening times range from spring to late summer. Although they are shipped and sold fresh in groceries, local markets are always best and reasonably priced.
CHOOSING: Look for plump berries that are dark blue with a light blue frosting. Green or pink berries are not ripe, except for the pink varieties. Many farms market their berries to customers who enjoy picking their own, so you can also look for U-pick operations in your area.
STORING: Do not wash blueberries before storing them. Place them in a plastic or perforated produce bag in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator.They will be good for 7 to 10 days.
GROWING: Because most regions have blueberry varieties that are well adapted, many people are able to make blueberry shrubs part of their home landscape design.
Plants lose their leaves in winter, but only after a wonderful display of fall color, making them a multi- season asset that produces spring flowers, summer fruit, and fall foliage.
Blueberries thrive in acidic soil that’s loose, well drained, and rich in organic matter such as compost. Much like your beloved rhododendrons, holly, or azaleas, a few fruits such as blueberries thrive when grown in soil with a pH less than 7. They also need a full-sun location. Select a variety that’s suited for your area of the country. Sunshine Blue, Chippewa, Polaris, and Northsky are compact blueberry plants for small gardens and containers. For the best in-ground varieties, consult your local Cooperative Extension. For berry picking all summer, plant early, mid-, and late- season varieties for continual harvest. It’s important to plant two or three varieties to ensure good pollination and fruitful harvests.