Berrilicious fruit to savour

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Berrilicious fruit to savour

Growing the best has never been this easy!
by Tracy Mashinge-Jeche

Besides their unique nutritional values and health benefits, berries are becoming very popular because the fruiting plants are more readily available.

According to Eckards Garden Pavilion, they’re the easiest addition to any grow-your-own food collection. One can even plant the larger varieties along a fence or trellis where they also can be used as a hedge or as a screen.

Blueberries grow in many places around the world:  North America, Europe, Asia and South America and now they are successfully being grown here in South Africa.

Growing the best berries is easier than you thought.

If you’re thinking of teaching children about food gardening, then berries are the perfect start. Either grow them for the fruit basket or as a bird attraction in the garden.

 

Propagation

•          They are either propagated from cuttings or from tissue culture.

•          The cuttings are placed in a growing medium of peat moss and pine bark mixture.

•          Water is administered by means of a misty spray that is applied for 20 seconds every 30 minutes. This keeps the soil moist for a longer period.

•          The tissue culture method involves inducing the shoot tips to produce multiple shoots in an agar solution.

•          After sub-culturing, the shoots are cut off and placed in a peat perlite rooting mix and watered by the misty method.

Soil /growing medium

•          Blueberries are acid-loving plants [4,2-5,0 kcl pH] on easily drained growing medium or soils.

•          Pine bark is a good growing medium because of its acidity and drainage ability.

•          Spacing of rows should be 1,5m and 2,5m between plants.

•          Planting density is 3 300 plants per hectare.

•          If they are grown in the soil then ridge the soil up on either side of the plant as this helps with their shallow root system.

Irrigation

The smaller the plant, the more critical the irrigation. Beware of over irrigating – they are susceptible to root rot. Always remember this about soil:  ‘more water means less oxygen’ and the plants will “drown”.

Plant nutrition

Blueberry plants are salt and nitrate sensitive. For commercial production, seek professional advice and follow their recommendations. For garden growers, pelleted chicken litter or slow release fertilizer is a good option.

Pruning

•          During late summer and early autumn, buds develop on the shoot tips. These buds can be either flower buds or leaf buds.

•          To create more flower buds and ultimately more fruit, one has to prune as the younger shoots produce mostly flower buds. This ensures that the plants create more new shoots which will produce more flower buds and more fruit.

•          The modern varieties of blueberry plants can produce 15 tons of fruit per hectare which equates to 4,5kg of fruit per plant given the correct nutrition.

 

TIPS:

Best to plant in the late summer or early spring.

Most berries produce more fruit as they establish and mature. Mulch them regularly with a layer of compost and feed them every second month for flowers to stimulate growth and flowering.

Organic fertiliser will result in stronger plants that bear fruit with stronger flavour.

 

Eat Your Berries!

Five interesting facts

 

1          Fresh is good, frozen may be better.  One of the most little known facts about berries: while nothing beats the taste of fresh berries, frozen berries are a great alternative. In fact, frozen berries may even be better for you.

2          Brain benefits in general, really! Eating more berries helps your brain age better, think better, learn better and remember more.

3          Native Americans held them in great esteem because of their high levels of nutrients and antioxidants. They used them for medicinal purposes and even mixed them with corn flour and honey to make a kind of pudding called sautauthig.

4          It looks like antioxidants are in style. In fact, over 1 500 new products containing blueberries were introduced last year.

5          Cranberries and blueberries are both in the Vaccinium family. I guess great taste DOES runs in the family!

 

The story behind Blushing Berries

Carlos and Bev Leal have been using berries for a long time. They’ve been including them in their morning juice for years and they love them so much because of their great health benefits, namely being very effective antioxidants.

“I soon realized how more and more people are using this wonder fruit and I deliberated how I could get involved in the distribution of berries, being the entrepreneur that I am,” said Leal.

 Since they already had the facilities to refrigerate and safely store berries, they began to look for farmers who could supply them with the products.

Then came the dilemma of naming their business.

“Our wonderful son-in-law, Paul Dempsey, came up with the awesome name Blushing Berries,” smiled Leal.

It’s clear that the love and passion these two have for good health, nutrition and the fact that this is part of their business journey brings them joy. Knowing that people are benefiting from using these super fruits is the driving force behind Blushing Berries.

MBSA Leaders

MBSA Leaders during a Q & A session at the 2017 MBSA Annual Results event held in Pretoria, from left: Johann Evertse, Carsten Spohr, Nadia Trimmel, Jasper Hafkamp, Joerg Essig, Florian Siedler and Mayar Bhana

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