Forest blueberries and garden myths around them
Everyone loves this forest sweetness, and if someone does not love it, it means that this someone simply did not try it. There is no sweeter berry among forest gifts. But you can grow it in the garden and please yourself every year with a rich harvest. Let's take a closer look at this delicious berry, find out how and where common blueberries grow.
Blueberries are found throughout northern and eastern Europe. They also grow in our country from the Kola Peninsula to the Far East, the only exception is the Caucasus and the Caspian region.
Under natural conditions, it lives on gentle southern and western slopes in woodlands. There, small shrubs, no more than 40 centimeters in height, grow close to each other, forming vast plantations. This berry loves the sun, but does not grow on the edges, preferring open woodlands. Pine forests with a small undergrowth, where, in the measure of moisture, partial shade and warmth, is its favorite habitat.
Video about forest blueberries
The harvest season begins in mid-July. The berries ripen unevenly, on one bush you can find both ripe fruits and just faded ovaries. But the main ripening time falls on the end of July - beginning of August.
An interesting species grows in Italy. In the national park of Tuscany, Parco nazionale dell'Appennino Tosco-Emiliano grows an endemic species devoid of purple pigment. Berries with white fruits ripen here. In all other characteristics, they are an exact copy of the ordinary blueberry that we collect in the forests.
Photo of wild blueberry
Why are blueberries useful?
Its fruits are a kind of mini-medicine cabinet, this is due to the fact that they contain a huge amount of various trace elements. The berries contain vitamins A, B1, B6, C, PP. There is also a considerable presence of phosphorus, calcium, manganese. And in terms of the amount of potassium, blueberries are generally the record holder.
Researches of blueberry properties in medicinal aspect are actively carried out in various medical institutions in Europe and North America. Laboratory tests are bringing more and more interesting results. Many people know that this black berry is very good for the eyes. Medicines based on it are prescribed as vision-strengthening agents. But few people know that thanks to the tannins it contains, this berry also serves as a good means of preventing various cancers.
In addition, blueberry blue enzyme prevents the development of Alzheimer's disease. It also has a positive effect on memory, improves mental performance, and promotes longevity. It is enough to consume 50 grams, or a small cup of berries or blueberry juice, and you will receive the necessary supply of micronutrients to maintain the functions of your brain at a high level for a long time.
Blueberry leaves are also very valuable. Their decoctions are used as a diuretic, for enuresis, to cleanse the kidneys from stones. Inhalation and infusions from the leaves and fruits of this berry are well treated for inflammation of the respiratory tract: tonsillitis, bronchitis, rhinitis. in folk medicine, blueberry masks are also used to improve skin tone.
Growing blueberry bushes in orchards and vegetable gardens
Such a huge range of useful qualities, combined with an incredible taste, make blueberries a desirable horticultural crop. And it is grown in private plots.
However, contrary to popular belief, the garden variety is not a domesticated sister of the same berry that we collect in the forests.
Blueberry in the photo
Canada exports hundreds of millions of dollars worth of blueberry fruits annually around the world. North American breeders have developed numerous varieties of varying degrees of frost resistance and yield. There are late-ripening long-playing varieties that bear fruit until the very cold, for example Jersey, Elliott. There are also early varieties that bear berries by the beginning of July Patriot, Spartan, Northcountry.
But they leave early, by the end of summer the berries are gone. There are varieties of combined fruiting, which begin to ripen little by little in the summer and finish by mid-autumn. The varieties are really sea, they vary in the size of berries, sugar content, bush height, yield - you just have to choose the most suitable one for yourself and break your blueberry in your home yard.
Horticultural bushes are planted at a great distance from each other, as it grows well. The optimal step between the bushes is one and a half meters. Find a sunny, but not too much place on the site, it is desirable that fruit trees grow nearby, giving light partial shade at noon. The garden variety of this berry is very demanding for watering. In addition, due to the low growth of the first years of life, it will begin to bring good harvests only in the fourth or fifth summer after planting.
Blueberry cultivation video
There is another curious berry, they call it the annual blueberry. This is another delusion again. The so-called annual garden blueberry has nothing to do with the American garden blueberry, especially since it has nothing to do with our forest sweetness. This berry is called Sunberry. To be precise, Solánum retrofléxum. In fact, Sunberry is a culture derived by the American naturalist Luther Burbank based on the crossing of the European nightshade with its African subspecies. And this berry got its name because of the slight taste similarity of the ripe fruits of this relative of the nightshade with forest blueberries.
In addition, the health benefits of sunberries are very similar to those of blueberries. For example, its fruits are also very good for the eyes, help prevent urolithiasis, and are useful for colds. Sunberry is bred as a vegetable crop, sowing seeds in seedling boxes in spring. In the summer they are planted in a permanent place. The bushes stretch out a meter and a half, spreading, require a garter. But this culture is not capricious, it does not require special care. In the fall, it produces a rich harvest that is best for processing, or you can eat the Sunberry raw if you like the nightshade flavor.
Photo of wild blueberry
So let's clarify which berries can exist under the "blueberry alias":
- Firstly, this is a real forest beauty itself, it is not tall, it is almost impossible to tame it to garden conditions, since it has a root system that is very sensitive to transplantation, in addition, it is extremely demanding on environmental conditions. But you can safely collect it in the forests, it remains only to find rich blueberries.
- Secondly, garden blueberries, which, although related to the European forest blueberry, are no more than the same lingonberry, although the taste is quite similar to the forest one we are used to. It takes root very well in the garden. Extremely productive. Numerous varieties to suit all tastes and garden conditions.
- Thirdly, bred in the early twentieth century Sunberry. It has nothing to do with either the European forest or the American garden berry. Belongs to the nightshade family. Grown by seedlings, ripens in late summer - early autumn. The aftertaste is slightly reminiscent of blueberry. Also has some similarities with her useful qualities of berries.