Highbush blueberry, also known as Vaccinium corymbosum, is gaining more and more supporters all over the world, likewise in Poland. It owns its popularity mainly to very good nutrition value, and scientifically proven health attributes. Blueberry fruit has a lot of A, B, C, E, and PP vitamins, as well as zinc, potassium, selenium, copper, magnesium, iron, calcium, and a high level of antioxidants. Blueberries secure the organism from cancer, they improve our sight. Microelements included in blueberries slow down atherosclerosis, reduce the level of LDL cholesterol, and the risk of getting a heart-related disease.
All these features make the plant more popular to be planted in our house gardens. There are also more plantations being started, where the bush is produced. Buying from us you get the warranty of highest quality seedlings. We only grow trusted varieties, which are perfect for the weather conditions in Poland, and therefore in most of Europe. Apart from the seedlings, our clients have the opportunity to receive thorough advice about managing a plantation and selling fruit. More information below.
Haskap – also known as honeysuckle, or Lonicera caerulea, is a bush with compact and elevated structure, growing up to 2 meters high. These bushes are easy to take care and produce fruit that are a source of valuable and healthy microelements. The fruit can be picked the soonest from all berries, even before the first strawberries are ripe. Haskap berries are violet/navy blue, lengthened, covered with wax-like layer, with different shapes depending on the variety. They are juicy, tasty, sweet-sour, with a slight bitter taste. Haskap already starts to fruit the next year after it is planted. The fruit are ripening irregularly, therefore they need to be picked often, just after they are ripe. Honeysuckle is a long-lived plant (up to 35 years). More information below.
Preparing the site.
When getting ready to plant you need to remember that highbush blueberry has its own specific demands. Choosing the wrong setting for your plantation will lead to lack of success in cultivation. The preparation process should look like this:
Examining the soil – Building a fence – Creating an irrigation system – Choosing the perfect varieties.
In the very beginning it is good to examine the soil. The examination should be carried out in order to determine the soil’s pH, best of all by using potassium chloride (KCl), and in order to determine the amount of microelements in the soil. The examination will determine whether the setting is good for your blueberry plantation. If the soil’s pH is too high, and there is no possibility to lower it down, then you should consider changing the setting. It is always a good idea to prepare the soil before planting. It absolutely has to be acid (pH 3,8-4,8), light, permeable, and full of nutrients and humus. If the soil is wrong, it can badly influence the height and the fructification, as well as increase the risk of infections. Mineral soils should be enriched with organic matter by digging them with acid peat or composted sawdust from conifers.
A fence is not the most necessary element when preparing your planting setting, however it is worth the investment. It secures the plantation not only from “foreign fruit amateurs” but most of all from wild animals, which often bite or dig out the bushes during wintertime.
When choosing a setting for your plantation it is a good idea to check the availability of water, which will be used for watering at the plantation. During the examination you should get to know the amount of iron and calcium in the water. Too much iron can cause its oxidization and therefore block the irrigation lines. Then, too much calcium on the setting filled with ground water can create a soil solution that can de-acidify the peat prepared for the planting. It is very important to choose and plan the irrigation installation. It is a necessary mean, apart from situations when the plants are growing on specifically prepared, marshy ground. Water is one of the most important factors that reduces the growing of your blueberries on soils which are not very absorbent. Choosing the irrigation system is connected to the terrain shape – for sloping terrain it is best to install the dripping lines with pressure compensation.
Another important thing, when planning to start your highbush blueberry plantation is choosing the right blueberry varieties.You need to properly analyze your choice because it will create the fruit salesoffer for your future plantation. When starting a blueberry field, you have years of work to come, therefore it is important to choose the right supplier of your seedlings. Healthy and high quality plants from a qualified nursery guarantee the purity of your varieties, as well as higher immunity to stress connected with the planting. It is good to plant a few bushes next to each other for a better pollination. The most valuable plants are the 2 or3-year-old ones because they start to fruit sooner.
You always plant your highbush blueberry in spring or in autumn. Plants that are planted in October or November, just before the wintertime, produce new roots. It helps them to adjust quicker and start growing stronger around the beginning of spring. If you decide to plant in autumn, you need to remember about securing the plants against the cold. To do so, you should make a mound out of sawdust or pine bark. When planting in spring, there is no risk that your plants will freeze, however the plants need to be watered more often. Before you plant, you should dig a 40-50 cm deep and 80-80 cm wide hole. For hand picking, especially on smaller plantations, we recommend planting your seedlings 0,8-1,2 m apart, having your rows 3,0-3,5 m apart. Plant your seedling around 5 cm deeper than they were in the pot. Fill the holes with a mixture of acid peat and garden soil. After the planting is done, the soil around each bush should be pressed well, so that the roots will grow better into the ground. Make a mound of composted sawdust or crumbled pinebark around the planted bushes. Highbush blueberry should be planted in a sunny territory, secured from the wind. It is best to avoid places where you can have too much ice or where water can gather.
The elementary procedures when taking care of your blueberries are watering, fertilization, trimming.
Due to soil needs and climate in central-eastern Europe, your blueberry plantation needs additional watering. Rain shortage drastically reduces the growing and the size of your fruit. Especially right after you plant and during the first year because the plant has a shallow root system and is very sensitive to the lack of water. It will be good if you pour some pine bark around the bushes. The bark will support the dampness of the soil, acidify it, and secure the blueberry from freezing.
Well carried out fertilization should be based on precise chemical analysis of the soil and the leaves, as well as visual evaluation of the plant itself. Lack or excess of mineral microelements will be manifested when the bush stops to grow or it grows too much. The leaves can get spots or become smaller, just like the berries themselves, and the top sprouts can dry out. Simple nitric fertilization is used just after the planting (when the vegetation start). The amount of nitrogen is set based on how fertile your soil is, how old the plants are, and what kind of bedding has been used. In the first years you use this kind of fertilization you need to remember to increase the amount of nitrogen by 50-100% if you bedding is made out of sawdust. When, after a few years, you bedding becomes mineralized, the amount of nitrogen can be reduced. The most recommended fertilizer for blueberries is ammonium sulfate. This is a slow working fertilizer, well absorbed by the soil. It is good to use the dosage twice, not to damage your soil by adding too much at once. You should fertilize the soil with ammonium sulfate each year. Potassium and phosphorus fertilization is done based on chemical analysis of the soil. With a weaker soil you should use a potassium fertilizer like potassium sulfate. If you have an irrigation line ready to use, your soil can be fertilized together with the watering. This is a highly successful method, as the fertilizer is delivered in small amounts, straight to the roots. You can also fertilize the leaves with urea (four sprayings every second week), or magnesium sulfate.
In order to receive generous crops yearly, it is necessary to cut the bushes regularly. From the moment you plant your seedling, until the third or fourth year, it is recommended to cut only the weak, sick, mechanically damaged or frozen sprouts. A selective and rejuvenating cut should be done starting from year five, when you get rid of the oldest and most packed sprouts. The best period for cutting is the end of winter and the beginning of spring, just when the temperature does not drop below zero. You can then recognize the frozen sprouts. The flower buds will help you decide how high you should cut. Cutting and forming the blueberry bushes is necessary because when you do not do this, your bush will not grow well, and fewer buds will appear on the sprouts. This leads to decreasing numbers of fruits each year, and the ones that appear will be smaller. Getting rid of unnecessary sprouts helps the bush to circulate air better and receive more sunlight. Blueberry gives fruit better on two or three-year-old sprouts. In a well cared bush you should have no more than six or eight main sprouts.
Problems with cultivation.
Highbush blueberry is rarely attacked by sicknesses and parasites, and even if they appear, they are not that harmful. You can even give up on using any chemical means of protection. Nevertheless, if a sickness or pathogens appear, it is very important to get rid of the ill sprouts from the plantation and burn them. Not managing to do so can ruin the whole bushes. In order to succeed with this procedure, you should cut the sprouts below the sick spot. Getting rid of the sick sprouts, leaves, flowers and fruit, will reduce the probability of the same sickness in the years to come. In order to avoid any weed problems on your plantation, you should plant your blueberries on a weed-free terrain, therefore it is best to deal with them two years before you start to plant your seedlings. You will get good results by using selective herbicides, which should be used against green weeds 10-15cm tall.
The precise date when the crops can be picked depends on many factors. Depending on the soil, the climate, or even the way you cut your bushes, the time of fruit ripening can be different. On average, however, the fruit ripe in July and August. The ripening can be delayed due to a colder and rainier season. After the first harvest, the next ones should be carried out at least once a week, or in certain conditions even more often. Keeping the fruit on the bush makes them less tasty, worse looking, and more vulnerable for storage. Before the harvest, remember, that as they ripe, blueberries produce more sugar, so if you care for a less sweet taste or you are thinking about transportation, it is best to harvest the fruit a few days before they are fully ripe. The most important thing about picking the fruit is not damaging them and keeping the natural wax protection in mind. Blueberries are picked using your thumb, so that they fall easily into an open hand. This way you will avoid scratches and damages. If you try to pick a berry and it refuses to fall, it means that you should give it some more time. After being picked, blueberries should be protected from the sunlight and should reach a cold storage room within an hour. Otherwise they will become too soft, will lose their quality and attractiveness. For your harvest time you should choose chiller days, or just avoid noon hours.
Because of their origin, haskap blueberry bushes in Polish conditions are known for little climatic and soil needs. These bushes can cope with droughts and even the biggest frosts (up to -45 degrees), and their flowers withstand strong ground frosts (up to -8 degrees). Haskap blueberry grows best on a sunny territory. You can also plant it in a shady spot. It will grow practically in any kind of soil, but the best ground should be fertile, just slightly humid, carious, and a bit acidic (5,5-6,0 pH).
Planting and nursing.
Before planting in spring or autumn, you should fertilize your soil with compost or manure using 10 to 15 kg of the material per each plant, and mix it with the top ground layer. The most adequate distance between each plant is 1,25-1,5 m, and 2,5-3,0 m between each row. Before putting the roots system into the ground, it should be sprinkled with water very well. It is a good idea to put bedding around each plant, it can be either petty bark or composted sawdust. Cutting of the bushes should be carried out after the fourth or fifth year – we are talking about trimming the crown, when you need to get rid of the oldest and broken branches, as well as the smallest sprouts. Haskap bushes should be watered in spring, when you get not enough rain, and also during the start of fruit growing and their ripening. After planting, just when the plants adapt themselves, until the end of June, you can add a multi-ingredient mineral fertilizer, just like the one that is used for highbush blueberry. Haskap does not need any means of protection because it is not attacked by illnesses and vermins.