The state of New Jersey is famous for its delicious blueberries. The highbush blueberries, also known as Vaccinium corymbosum, are a species native to New Jersey. Blueberries are a fresh treat for summer. You can learn how to grow blueberries in New Jersey and enjoy them following our helpful guide.
Blueberries are delicious, but they are packed with a lot of health benefits. They have a sweet taste and are full of nutrients that boost your health.
You can eat freshly picked blueberries or incorporate them into various foods and drinks. You can also freeze them after harvesting to preserve them for later. Follow this guide to learn some amazing tips on how to grow blueberries in New Jersey.
- 1. Choosing the Right Variety
- 2. Understanding the Salty Soil of New Jersey
- 3. Making Amendments to Soil with Greater pH Difference
- 4. Optimal Growing Condition and Care
- 5. Need for Fertilization
How to Grow Blueberries in New Jersey: Everything You Need to know
Growing blueberries in New Jersey is quite simple, owing to the hardiness of the blueberry bush. However, you need to consider the type of soil in New Jersey, and its quality while growing blueberries. Keep the following important tips in mind to learn how to grow blueberries in New Jersey.
1. Choosing the Right Variety
plant at least two cultivars adjacent while planting blueberry bushes. It will increase the pollination, thus increasing the out of the crop. To have a good harvest growing throughout the summer, plant four bushes in the sets of two plants to encourage pollination.
For example, the Bluetta and Blueray variety are good varieties to cultivate together in mid-June. These varieties will bear the hot July easily. While the Jersey and Lateblue varieties only start bearing fruits in late July and continue fruiting throughout August.
2. Understanding the Salty Soil of New Jersey
Blueberries fall under the category of plants that enjoy acidic soil. The ideal pH range for growing blueberries is between 4.2 and 5.2. However, New Jersey has alkaline soil with high salt content. This high salt content is because of the run-off salt from pavements used for de-icing snow in winters. Another reason is the exposure to the ocean’s salty water along the coastline.
New Jersey has a wide variety of soils, such as sand, clay, and loam. Sand is very responsive to additives and soil amendments; however, clay can be pretty stubborn.
The soil of New Jersey requires some amendments to make it optimal for the growth of blueberries. Usually, the addition of acidic organic matter such as peat moss and pine needles can make the soil sustainable for blueberries.
The addition of such acidifying organic materials lowers the pH of the sand to make it more optimal and improves drainage and aeration. It helps achieve the optimal pH level preferred by blueberries without the assistance of any chemical treatments.
Add about 4 to 6 inches of acidifying organic material such as compost or peat moss in the soil up to 8 inches. Once you plant the blueberries bush in the soil, cover it with about 3 to 4 inches of pine mulch, covering 3 to 4 feet around the plant.
3. Making Amendments to Soil with Greater pH Difference
If you live in an area where the soil has a pH value greater than 6.5, then using organic matter might not be enough. You will need to add powdered elemental sulfur to bring the pH value down to optimal.
For a 10/10 ft garden, you will need about 2 pounds of powdered sulfur. Spread the sulfur on the soil evenly, and work the sulfur in at a depth of 4 to 6 inches. It will bring down the pH by 1 point in a loamy soil. You can test it annually and make amendments as necessary.
If the soil in your garden has a pH above 8, we do not recommend treating it. It indicates that some salt is constantly seeping into your soil. Growing blueberries in such gardens can be very tricky. The best solution to this problem is to make a raised garden bed.
4. Optimal Growing Condition and Care
The blueberry bushes need ample room to grow. Leave a space of about 5 to 7 feet between the highbush blueberries and keep their rows apart by 8 to 10 feet.
Plant the blueberry bushes at a location that receives a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight during the day. Provide enough water to sustain their growth. The soil must be slightly moist but must not be wet.
Make sure the drainage is good to prevent waterlogging. Soggy soil can cause rotting and many other diseases, while dry soil can decrease the amount of bloom and result in poor fruit growth.
Blueberry plants require about 1 to 2 inches of water every week, making it about 5 to 10 gallons of water for each plant. The best watering approach is the drip system that will keep supplying water in small amounts not to waterlog the plant.
5. Need for Fertilization
Fertilizing your blueberries in moderation can be beneficial for the growth of plants and increase the quality and quantity of fruits. But blueberries are quite sensitive and can be affected tremendously by overfertilization. It is suggested to avoid fertilizing newly planted blueberries until they are one or two months old.
The best approach to blueberries is to fertilize them in small doses over the year rather than fertilize them with an annual amount. Use a 12-4-8 fertilizer with 2 percent magnesium fertilizer, take one ounce of it, and spread it evenly on the soil within two feet.
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After applying the fertilizer, water generously, but avoid making a puddle. Fertilize the blueberries in April, June, August, and September annually.
After each year, gradually increase the amount of fertilizer and application area. Apply 2 ounces of fertilizer in a 3 feet circle in the second year of growth. In the third year, increase it to 3 ounces per 4 feet radius.
Things to Remember While Growing Blueberries
- Blueberries have a shallow root network; therefore, it is suggested to cover them with a layer of mulch to retain moisture.
- Blueberries attract birds and are a favorite snack of birds and squirrels. To save your plants, cover them with nets.
- Cut back the blossoms for the first two years of the plants’ growth to let the bushes retain energy, direct it towards their growth, and establish a strong structure.
- Blueberries do not need pruning for the first four years of their growth, but you can trim diseased or brown branches and leaves. Prune the bushes at the end of the winter season or in early spring, just as the new growth begins.
- The harvest season for blueberries is between June and August. Please do not rush to pick your berries as soon as they turn blue. Let them stay for one or two days. The berries that are ready to be harvested will easily come into your hands.
Blueberries are a sweet summer treat and go great with many drinks and smoothies. Of course, you can buy them from stores, but their taste is nothing compared to the home-grown and freshly harvested blueberries. We have taught you everything on how to grow blueberries in New Jersey.
Grow your blueberry plants with our helpful tips, and tell us how your harvest turned out in the comments below!