The satisfaction that comes from growing and eating your berries is beyond compare. You can take your time to make sure these juicy delights remain healthy from the moment you plant them right down to when they are harvested.
A healthy berry shrub produces as much as 15 pounds of fruit every year and they can live as long as 50 years. Why settle for the bland taste of store-bought berries when you can have an abundant supply of delicious homegrown berries.
Planting and nurturing a berry bush yourself could be quite fun, but you need to put a lot of effort into making sure they turn out great. Here are a few ways to get the most out of your berry bush;
It All Starts with Healthy Soil.
Plant your berries only in soil that encourages their growth. Berries love well-drained sandy loam rich in organic matter. The soil has to be well-drained so that the roots can have access to the air, water, and nutrients needed for their growth.
Soil ph is very important for plant growth and blueberries specifically will only thrive in acidic soil. Berries will look sickly with discolored and disfigured leaves if they are not planted in soils of their ideal pH range. Take a soil test to make sure your soil pH suits your plant type. The result of your soil test will help you know if you need to adjust or amend your soil pH to suit your berries’ growth.
How to Prevent Fungus on Your Berry Bushes
Not only do fungal infections make your plant look ugly, but repeated fungal infections could be fatal for your plant. This is because fungal infections not only affect your current crop yield, they also implicate the viability of berries produced in subsequent years. Berry bushes are susceptible to numerous diseases as a result of fungal infections so you should certainly take special care if you discover any signs of an infection.
How to Identify Fungus on Berry Bushes
Fungus could affect any part of your plant; the leaves, roots, or even the fruits. There are notable signs to help you identify fungal activity on your plants such as;
Leaf spot: Leaf spotting are distinct rings of discoloration on plant leaves. They could be brown, red, black, or yellow discolorations. Over time, these rings enlarge and form big patches.
Powdery Mildew: White powdery substance on the leaves.
Grey mold: Water-soaked spots on any part of the plant that appears white or grey at first then gradually turn dark brown or black.How to Prevent Fungus
A fungal infection may take a while to get rid of, but there are a few simple ways you can prevent the development and spread of fungus such as;
- Planting only disease-resistant cultivars.
- Properly spacing your plants to allow adequate air circulation.
- Pruning overgrown leaves regularly.
- Controlling weeds.
- Watering early in the day and avoiding overhead watering.
- Using fungicides.
How to Protect Berry Bushes from Birds
Birds love berries just as much as you do and you may end up losing your entire crop of berries to them. The common ways you can keep birds away involve using visual scare methods such as the use of scarecrows, terror eye balloons, and hawk-shaped kites. While visual scares are usually effective at first, it is not unusual to find birds perching on the very things that you put in place to scare them off after a while.
To completely protect your berries from birds, you should combine the visual methods with other bird prevention methods such as; bird barriers made with bamboo poles and bird netting, super hoops, crop cages, or bird control pop-up nets.
How to Fertilize Your Berry Bushes
Fertilizing your berry bush is a great way to encourage their growth and improve fruit quality. Blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries do well with nitrogen-based fertilizers. Blueberries thrive better with ammonium form of nitrogen and will do best with high-acid fertilizers. Make sure to avoid using fertilizers that contain nitrate as they are toxic to blueberries.
You could also go for organic fertilizers like blood meal and fish meal. They are rich in nitrogen and would improve the health of your plants. For acid-loving plants like blueberries, cow manure is the perfect organic fertilizer.
When to fertilize Berry Bushes in Zone 6 Ohio
Fertilize once a year, during spring just before the leaves have grown in to encourage new growth. Avoid fertilizing late, like during the fall or in summer as you would be promoting immature growths that may not survive the winter.
How much you fertilize will depend on the soil pH. Avoid overfertilizing as that would encourage leaf growth instead of fruit production.