Blueberries, also known as vaccium myrtillus is the fruit of a shrub belonging to the Ericaceae family. Blueberry plants are small shrubs native to Eurasia and the European forests.
In Portugal, blueberries grow spontaneously in the northern parts of the country (Minho and Trás-os-Montes) as well as Serra da Estrela. Due to a Dutch study, Server do Vouga, a Portuguese municipality, introduced the American varietal of this plant in 1986-1987. Until then, no active production of this species existed in Portugal, only the wild plants referred to as “Arando” and “Arandano” found in the regions of Gerês and Montalegre.
Blueberries have been used since the sixteenth century due to its antioxidant and antibacterial properties. Known as the “King of Antioxidants” and the “Fruit of Youth,” the blueberry is the fruit with the highest antioxidant content, even surpassing other vegetables such as cabbage, spinach, and broccoli in antioxidants.
It is also rich in vitamins A, B, C, and PP, as well as the minerals magnesium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, manganese. Blueberries also contain, pectin, tannin as well as citric, malic and tartaric acid.
Blueberries are known for their versatility in cooking as well, as it pairs well with meat, salads and other savory dishes, as well as its numerous uses in pastries, jams, tea pies, cakes, puddings, cookies, ice cream, smoothies, and the production of sweets.
But due to its nutritional benefits, blueberries truly shine as a medicinal plant, where all parts of the plant from the flowers, to the leaves, to the fruit to the roots, can all be used in order to combat signs of aging, treat cases of diarrhea and relieve inflammations of the mouth. It has been widely used to treat fevers and has a variety of antibacterial uses.
How to Grow
For optimal blueberry plants, choose a site with direct sunlight that is shielded from strong winds. Avoid areas that are poorly drained or prone to early frost. Blueberries prefer sandy soils with good drainage that are rich in organic matter. Clay soils should be avoided.
All perennial weeds should be cleared prior to planting. In preparing your soil, make sure to test the pH and fertility of the soil. Unlike other garden crops, blueberries need an acidic soil for reason able growth, so soil should be between 4.5-5.5. Space blueberries 1 to 1.5 meters apart and leave 2 to 2.5 meters between each row of blueberries.
After planting, consider adding a layer of straw n order to conserve soil moisture, reduce temperature variations as well as weed growth. Wood chips, shavings and pine bark may also be used in addition to or instead of straw.
However, before applying, check to ensure the soil contains no seeds of weeds and if the soil is damp. Blueberry plants must be watered regularly throughout the growth period. Try to keep the soil moist but not wet. Rainwater is ideal for watering.
Ensure that if you plant blueberries in a pot, that black pots are avoided, as they absorb heat and reduce moisture much faster. If using drip irrigation, place two emitters, one on each side of the plant.
Do you know
Blueberry leaves can be consumed in salads or teas?
Blueberries are known as the fruit of longevity?