I believe the most popular fruit bearing plant is blueberries. This has not always been the case; however, in the past 20 years, gardeners have realized the benefits of blueberries.
Blueberries can successfully be grown in any part of Georgia, and blueberry plants seldom require spraying for insects or diseases. Blueberries also require a smaller amount of space than fruit trees.
Winter is an excellent time to plant blueberries. A number of nurseries in Georgia propagate and sell blueberry plants, but remember in most cases you get what you pay for. Many people buy their blueberry plants by mail from nurseries.
There is nothing wrong with ordering plants by mail, but make sure you get the plants that you ordered.
The most important thing to remember about starting blueberries is to plant more than one variety for cross-pollination. Cross-pollination is necessary for fruit set.
The Dawson County Extension Office has a free leaflet about blueberries which will be helpful for selecting and planting blueberries.
Points to remember when planting blueberries:
• Plant blueberries in full sun.
• For a hedgerow effect, space plants four feet apart.
• Do not use any lime around blueberries. Blueberries require an acidic soil with a soil pH of 4.0 to 5.2. You can find out what your soil pH is by taking a sample of your soil to the Dawson County Extension Service – the cost is $8.
• Transplant the same depth as they grew in the nursery.
• Mulch with pine needles or chopped pine bark. Do not mulch with green sawdust.
• Do not apply any fertilizer at transplanting. After new growth begins, apply two ounces of 10-10-10 per plant.
• Cut plant back 1/3 at planting and remove low branches.
• Remove flowers the first year so that the plants will grow faster.
Clark Beusse is the Dawson County extension agent. For more information, call (706) 265-2442.