Backyard blueberries ready for harvest in Columbia SC
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Nothing is healthier than eating food grown in your own garden.
Residents of Columbia SC are fortunate — this area has a long growing season and many options for home-grown foods.
Blueberry bushes are a local favorite.
These leafy, deciduous shrubs grow well in SC and when cared for properly, can produce gallons of fresh, healthy blueberries from year to year for many years.
In the Columbia area, blueberry bushes are best planted in the late fall after all the leaves have fallen and plants have gone dormant.
The ground should still be soft (not hard frozen) but the weather should be cooler and the days shorter.
Choose a variety of blueberry bush that is known to do well in your area. The Clemson extension service has some good information about which varieties do well in Columbia.
How to plant your blueberry bush:
- Choose a spot in your yard that has mostly sunlight, but with some of it filtered through high trees.
- You may have a soil test done. Soil PH should be between 5.5 and 6.
- Space your bushes the proper distance apart. This depends on the variety, but in general, give at least 5 feet in between bushes to allow for maximum growth and accessibility for harvesting.
- Dig each hole to the depth specified by the bush’s planting instructions.
- Prepare the soil by mixing 1 cubic foot of peat moss with an equal amount of sand (with no lime added). If you have compost, you may want to add an equal portion of that into the mix as well, especially if your yard is in a recent development and without established landscaping.
- Insert the bush and fill in. Tamp the soil down firmly and water it in to prevent air getting to the roots.
- Cover the root area with pine straw or mulch.
Keep an eye on your plant through the winter. It should weather most any temperatures, because it already dormant.
For the first year, remove the flowers as they appear. This allows the bush to spend more effort on expanding its root and branch systems, and making for a healthier plant.
In the spring, keep an eye on the temperature changes. Blueberry bushes flower a bit later than other fruit trees and shrubs, but if a hard freeze occurs after flowering, your blueberry harvest will be minimal. If a hard freeze is predicted late in the spring, consider covering the plant to protect it from freezing until the cold snap has passed.
Keep your blueberry bushes mulched and watered for the first couple of years. Let the root area dry out between waterings.
If your blueberry bush is in its right place, it will thrive and grow rapidly. Within 5 years, your blueberry bush should be at full production.
For more information about planting blueberry bushes in Columbia SC, visit the Clemson extension service website.
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