These plants, also
called whortleberry and bilberry, are present
in acid moor land soils of North America, the
British Isles, and across northern Europe and
Asia, growing 30cm (12in) tall and in large plantations.
The wild berries are much in demand in the early
autumn but they are small. It was not until Dr
Colville of the US Department of Agriculture introduced
Vaccinium corymbosum, bearing much larger fruits,
into his breeding programme that the cultivated
plants took on a new popularity. Modern blueberries
are as large as small black grapes and begin to
colour early in August, lasting until early November
depending upon variety. They can be eaten raw,
with clotted cream, or used in tarts and flans
or for preserves. Cranberry sauce is the accepted
accompaniment for turkey.
The fruits require an acid soil, like the azalea
and rhododendron, so work plenty of peat about
the roots at planting time which is March. The
plants also require plenty of nitrogenous manures
to encourage the formation of a continuous supply
of new wood upon which high quality fruit is obtained.
Dig in shoddy, farmyard or poultry manure or composted
straw. And in spring each year scatter on the
surface around each plant 28g (1oz) of sulphate
of potash and the same of superphosphate of lime,
mixed together. This will also benefit from a
mulch each year.
Like blackcurrants, plant deeper than other fruits,
as reproduction and new growth are by underground
suckers which may be detached and replanted to
Plant 10cm (4in) deep and set the plants 120cm
(4ft) apart, for they grow bushy and at least
120cm (4ft) tall. Plants are expensive but have
a long life and bear heavily. The plants crop
better if helped with their pollination, so plant
two varieties together, one to give early crops,
the other later. Three plants of each will provide
worthwhile pickings. Blueberries turn from green
to red then pale blue before turning black.