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5/30/2008 10:18:00 AM

A Rainbow of...

My oldest son, eager to find out what life was all about in "the olden days" asked me what I did when I was his age. When I responded with "I grew up on a farm," he just about fell out of his chair. With an eyebrow raised, I got an excited chatter of entire sentences all run together about what it was all like and did I really know how to grow food, and what was this and that and the other like? With a grimace, I calmed my over excited child down and tried to answer his questions the best I knew how. This prompted us to do some shopping so we could grown our own. We found a couple of heirloom seed sites that carried the various foods that we like and discussed what we could plant now and what we wait until fall and what would wait until next year.

When my son saw these:

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket
he just about flipped out of my chair.

Purple carrots? Really? Naw, that can't be real! But they are. Carrots were not originally orange. Those developed in Europe after the carrot made its way there from the Middle East. So now he is all about wanting to grow purple, yellow, white and red carrots so that he has a larger variety of carrots to crunch down on while watching his favorite show. If I'm not careful, both my son's will eat an entire bag of baby carrots while seated in front of the boob tube and think nothing of the fact that I had plans for those crunchy little nuggets of betacarotine goodness.

So we are all for the growing of carrots for the munchy value. Thank God I have children that will eat at least one vegetable raw without argument.

Carrots are a hardy, cool season crop that can be (and should be) planted directly in the garden as soon as the soil can be prepare in the spring. Transplanting tends to promote forking and bending so they should be planted directly. They are not drought tolerant and require even frequent waterings. They also do not do well in the heat which can cause unwanted coarseness and strong flavor. Highest root quality is achieved at around 60 to 70 degrees. Sow about two weeks before the last frost for a summer crop and for fall, sow about 2 months before the first frost of the fall. Carrots are a good spring crop but they're even better for fall planting. The flavor of fall carrots improves as the weather cools. Experts say warm days, cool nights and a medium soil temperature are the best conditions for growing great tasting carrots. Before you decide which types of carrots to plant, you have to determine what kind of soil you have.

Sowing can be interesting as the seeds are tiny. Now there are many different methods gardeners use to plant carrots -- the method you choose depends on how you want your carrots to grow.

When you plant your carrot seeds directly in your garden, make sure you work your soil early in the spring so that it is loose and well draining. Carrots require rich, healthy soil that is moist and fertile. When preparing the bed make sure you remove all large organic debris, sticks and stones. Since carrots grow underground it is important that the soil they will be pushing down into does not have anything blocking their growth. Turn the soil in the bed and rake through it several times to make sure you do not miss any large material that may be buried. The best soil for growing carrots will have plenty of organic matter worked into the seedbed before planting. Add compost to the soil a month before sowing and again two weeks after planting. It is important to avoid crusting of the soil around the seed-bed. Avoid stony, cloddy or trash-laden soils as they increase the incidence of root defects. Because raised-beds usually have loose soil and receive little compaction from foot traffic, they are an ideal location to grow carrots. Carrots grown on heavy soils may produce considerable leaf growth and forked roots. Carrot plants do not grow well in strongly acid soils; therefore, a pH range of 6.0 to 6.8 should be maintained for best results.

Sowing can be interesting as the seeds are tiny. Now there are many different methods gardeners use to plant carrots -- the method you choose depends on how you want your carrots to grow. Gardeners have taken some unusual steps to help mark the placement of carrots. Some have mixed carrot seed with coffee grounds and even sand to help spread them. There are even seed tapes that will hold the tiny seeds in place in rows. The best way to mark your carrot rows is by mixing carrot and radish seeds together. The quick-germinating radishes pop up and mark your planting. To sow the seeds individually, you take the seeds in your hand, about a half dozen at a time, and then you roll them between your thumb and forefinger planting one to two seeds 1/2-inch apart in the soil. Once the seeds are sown, you should gently pat them into the ground or you can sprinkle a 1/4-inch of fine soil to cover the bed. When planting seeds, try mixing them with dry coffee grounds to help with spacing. Another method you can use to distribute your seeds is to broadcast them. To broadcast sow carrot seed, you sprinkle or spread the seeds across the area you are planting. Seeds fall randomly and do not develop in rows. This method takes only a few seconds to do but you will have to spend more time thinning the seedling as they grow in. Be sure to cover the seeds with a fine garden soil. Never step on the carrot seed bed -- this will compact the seeds and keep them from germinating. After all the seeds are planted, you water them a fine mist and then add a light layer of pine mulch and watered lightly one more time.

Fertilizers and lime are best applied to soils for carrot production using soil test results as a guide. Arrangements for soil testing can be made through your local Extension office. Carrots require large amounts of plant nutrient elements, particularly potassium, for good production. A fertilizer with the ratio of 1-2-2 such as a 5-10-10 analysis would be appropriate at the time of seeding and again when tops are three to four inches tall and six to eight inches tall. Too much manure and fertilizer applied just before seeding can result in forked roots.

The soil that you are growing your carrots in needs to be kept moist at all times, especially when you first sow and the first seedlings appear. The key is keeping the soil moist but not water logged which encourages root hairs to branch out from the carrots. To help keep the soil moist at all times add a layer of mulch over the soil which will retain moisture. However, avoid too much moisture towards the end of the season as this will cause roots to crack. Watch for the appearance of orange crowns at the soil level as the plants mature. If this occurs, mulch with soil or compost as the sunlight will turn them green. Potential pest problems include leafhoppers, wireworms, carrot rust worm larvae, aster yellow, leaf spot and soft rot. Contact your local Extension office for current control recommendations.

Cover the seedlings with a thin layer of organic mulch such as straw or shredded bark. This will keep your soil moist while the seedlings are developing. Once your seedlings emerge, you can add more mulch around the plants. A layer of mulch about 3-4 inches deep is recommended after the seedlings emerge.

Once your seedlings begin to appear you are going to have to thin out your crop leaving only the healthiest seedlings to grow. You cannot get the best carrots if the plants are growing on top of each other, competing for the same nutrients. Thin the seedlings after three weeks so that they are about an inch apart, remember to keep the healthiest looking seedlings and cut off just the green tops of the rest. After another two weeks thin out the seedlings again to about three inches apart. These seedlings will be the carrots you harvest. As a general rule, the larger the carrot you want, the wider the spacing should be. Wider spacing also helps with an easier harvest.

Thin your carrots when they are about 1 inch tall. Be careful not to disrupt the other plants while you’re thinning your garden. Root vegetables are often sold as pelleted seeds. These seed varieties will help with even spacing and will reduce the time you spend thinning out your carrots.If you want to have carrots throughout the growing season, you can grow a new batch after the first carrots have grown for about 3-4 weeks. Carrots will germinate after about 2 weeks, and sometimes your plants will germinate unevenly throughout your garden.

Harvest can begin when carrots are finger size. In general, the smaller carrots are juicier and more tender. You do not have to harvest the entire crop at once. They can remain in the soil until you are ready to use them. Carrots will last until winter in the soil if mulched well. Carrots are best stored at temperatures near freezing in a moist environment.

Pull, don't dig, your carrots out of the ground and remove the leaves and stem of the plant. If you will not be enjoying your carrots right away leave about an inch of the stem attached to the carrot to prolong its shelf-life. Carrots destined for storage must be handled carefully during and after harvest to avoid bruising, cutting and breakage. Carrots harvested and handled in hot weather are more likely to decay and require extra care to prevent wilting. Wash carrots if they are harvested under wet conditions and are to be stored. Many potential decay-causing organisms are removed by washing. Also, clean, washed carrots allow freer air circulation. Prompt cooling to 40°F or below after harvest is essential for extended storage. Poorly precooled roots decay more rapidly.

Mature carrots are well adapted for storage and are stored in large quantities during the fall and winter. Mature topped carrots can be stored 7 to 9 months at 32°F-34°F with a very high relative humidity, 98%-100%.
Do not store carrots with vegetables and fruits that give off ethylene gas such as apples and pears. Some surface browning or oxidative discoloration often develops in stored carrots.

Diseases include: Aster Yellow, Leaf spot and Soft Rot. Pests include: Leafhoppers, Wireworms, and Carrot Rust Fly Larvae.

Use scissors to thin carrots in their earliest stages to guarantee you don't harm the adjacent seedlings as pulling them up will most likely disturb adjacent carrot roots.
If leaving carrots in the ground with mulch watch for the presence of rodents as they find carrots irresistible.

5/28/2008 06:17:00 PM

Lots Happening

There is a lot going on these days. I've negelected the blog in favor of preparing for many other things. I'm working on getting some rainbarrels, finding some large containers to plant fall crops in, and working with our newest addition Tanis. We planted the pumpkin last weekend and are going to start the rest of the seeds this weekend. We're moving right along. Our landlord has also been kind enough to advocate our water saving and gardening offering his help, tools and machinery. We're just moving right along.

My oldest son wants to plant a rainbow of carrots this fall and wants to set up a vegetable stand after we harvest, too. We'll have to see what kind of return we get from our "designer" carrots, white, yellow, purple and red (his idea!). We're really excited and are working on setting up our compost bin and various other large and small projects. I'll try to get some pictures up as soon as some of these things take shape.

Happy gardening!

5/21/2008 12:31:00 PM

Homemade Substitutions

Homemade Substitutions
There are many inexpensive, easy-to-use natural alternatives which can safely be used in place of commercial household products. Here is a list of common, environmentally safe products which can be used alone or in combination for a wealth of household applications.

Baking Soda - cleans, deodorizes, softens water, scours.

Soap - unscented soap in liquid form, flakes, powders or bars is biodegradable and will clean just about anything. Avoid using soaps which contain petroleum distillates.

Lemon - one of the strongest food-acids, effective against most household bacteria.

Borax - (sodium borate) cleans, deodorizes, disinfects, softens water, cleans wallpaper, painted walls and floors.

White Vinegar - cuts grease, removes mildew, odors, some stains and wax build-up.

Washing Soda - or SAL Soda is sodium carbonate decahydrate, a mineral. Washing soda cuts grease, removes stains, softens water, cleans wall, tiles, sinks and tubs. Use care, as washing soda can irritate mucous membranes. Do not use on aluminum.

Isopropyl Alcohol - is an excellent disinfectant. (It has been suggested to replace this with ethanol or 100 proof alcohol in solution with water. There is some indication that isopropyl alcohol buildup contributes to illness in the body. See

Cornstarch - can be used to clean windows, polish furniture, shampoo carpets and rugs.

Citrus Solvent - cleans paint brushes, oil and grease, some stains. (Citrus solvent may cause skin, lung or eye irritations for people with multiple chemical sensitivities.)

Trisodium phosphate (TSP) - a mixture of soda ash and phosphoric acid. TSP is toxic if swallowed, but it can be used on many jobs, such as cleaning drains or removing old paint, that would normally require much more caustic and poisonous chemicals, and it does not create any fumes.

Having said that, lets look at the cost difference:

Baking soda usually cost less than fifty cents a box. You can get like a gazillion pounds of it for under twenty bucks (12 pounds at Sams runs under $6.00) and it is useful for things other than cleaning. It can replace vegetable cleaners, scouring poweders, window cleaners, stain fighters, multipurpose cleaners, kitty litter order absorbers, coffee maker cleaning solutions, grease cutters, silver polish, carpet freshener, not to mention takes the sting out of bee stings, bug bites and windburns. Considering you can get most household cleaners from the Dollar General and much more from places like Wal-mart and Target, verses the $6 at Sams Club for a 12 pound bag of baking soda, I'm thinking that greener is cheaper this round.

So to be fair, I'm going to make a list of basic cleaners you'd find at Wal-Mart and how much you could pay for the items on the above list.

Baking Soda

5/21/2008 11:33:00 AM


I am very pleased with myself right about now. I have rearranged, I have scratched, I have paid off, I have stomped my feet but I have made the seemingly impossible happen. In spite of the fact that the IRS snafu has deprived me of my stimulus check (yea and I was all ready to get stimulated last week, too) until July, and I had two other things come up that seemed to loom over the horizon, I still have managed to get the side of beef that I wanted. *clap*

Yep. Freezer full of cow. Though, there is a warning attached to this.

WARNING: Disclosing that you have a full side of fresh beef hanging out in your freezer will attract leeches, undesirables, free loaders and hated family members. For your own sanity it is important to tape your spouse's mouth shut so that people don't just randomly show up for dinner.


A "friend" that will remain anon on this blog has suddenly taken an interest in us once more since he has heard about said side of beef. I tolerate him because occassionally he has his uses. Rarely is the better word but my husband wants to keep him around for those rare times when he is useful. He is a control freak. He is a jerk most of the time. He expects for us to be there for him when he is in need, yet can usually find an excuse on why he can't be there for us unless he is storing that little nugget up for future extortion. And he thinks my husband and I don't talk. I know everything, my husband knows everything, and neither of us are telling him about it. Unreliable. Petty. Selfish. Self-centered. Immature. Snobbish. Aloof. Know-it-all. Argumentative. Insufferable. Incorrigible. Dysfunctional. Delusional. User. Despicable. *snarl* *spit* *growl*

I would go on but he, if he ever read my blog, would know I was bitching about him (if he hasn't already figured it out, and if you have, now you know what I REALLY think, stick it in your self-righteous pulpit and smoke it) specifically if I really unloaded on specifics and I would rather not make things complicated for my husband who at times enjoys this person's company when he isn't being a selfish, petty, immature, self-centered, unreliable piece of *&%#$*#$*&#$*&!

There. Now that I've gotten that off my chest. If you decide you're going to buy a large hunk of cow, make sure to keep it a secret if you possibly can. Otherwise, you'll be wishing you could staple your spouse's lips together.

On a happier note, my tomato plant has 3 blossoms now and my pumpkin is starting to grow up. We've been hardening off for the past few days in prep for planting the little guy. Luckily, we're buying a bigger freezer, we're gonna need it with all those pumpkins this autumn.


5/17/2008 09:06:00 PM

Woo Hoo!

I have my very first bloom on my tomato plant!


I'm very excited. Upside down tomato gardening is beginning to become a nice success.

5/17/2008 08:36:00 PM

Addition to the Family

While I was happily skipping my way through work Friday, my husband shows up with news that our land lord showed up with a little pup that looked suspiciously like ours (our land lord is a very old man I could see how he would make the mistake). Now, let me give you a real picture here. I had to be talked into getting the first mutt by Santa Claus and his band of sadistic elves (my in-laws) at Christmas. *grumble* Not that I don't love Majere. He is smart as a whip and completely loyal, but things were complicated at the time. Sooo now, my land lord is even against me. So we have this dog... Well cared for pup, too. Soft fur, lease trained, house broke. But very skittish and very afraid of fast movements. I'm fairly certain he came from a house with a couple of other critters in it as he gets on well with the cat but pointedly refuses to have anything to do with Majere, who wants to play with him so bad he can taste it.


To my husband's credit, he walked the neighborhood looking for the owners. We've kept our eyes open for posters. Not that we wanna give up little Tanis, but if we find the owners, we'll give him back... at least if we find them in the next few days. If we don't after that and they show up one day, they won't be getting him back. *grumble* I warned my husband that I'm a softy and that we'd end up with a kennel if this kept up. Damnit. Now I'm going to have to go buy more stuff.

5/16/2008 12:39:00 PM

Pumpkins and Tomatos

It's been a few days since I last posted. We've been rather busy spring cleaning and getting various things set up for the summer months. But I did get to take some pictures!



They are both doing nicely.

5/13/2008 02:06:00 AM

Lasting Thoughts

Nothing says "I Love You" like burnt toast and crunchy eggs in bed.
Nothing says "I Love You" like a stick of butter spread on 8 pieces of toast. Nothing says "I Love You" like a six year old reading a book from beginning to end about Mother's Day to you.
Nothing says "I Love You" like a 4 year old saying "Happy Mother's Day" every 10 minutes and even a few times in between.
Nothing says "I Love You" like a tiny pink bud on a tiny little plant brought home from school in a dixie cup covered in marker pictures of you.
Nothing says "I Love You" like phone call after phone call incoming and outgoing to say "I love you."

I hope everyone had as good a Mother's Day as I had.

5/13/2008 01:50:00 AM

Nothing Says Lovin' Like

Puppy on a couch!


Pretty amazing that he can cover himself up like that.

After the flash woke him up, he got a little more comfortable.


Ahh, puppy love.

5/12/2008 09:36:00 PM

Sprout Day 9

There is something to be said about a good sprout. Our second true leaf has come out. It's looking very nice and it appears that I didn't kill it after all with the hot water. Phew!


The tomato plant is doing well, too. At least, now that I've decided on a place to put the poor thing. I must have moved it a half dozen times trying to find the place with the best sun. In the end, I had my husband put up a hook in the right spot. Meanwhile, the tomato plant has been growing.


I find that all the worries that I had with starting a garden this year have melted away. After reading horror story after mortifying horror story about destroyed crops, insect infestations, and bad fruit, its enough to make anyone think twice about trying to grow their own. But my gardening instincts have kicked back in and I'm remembering all the little things I used to do with my parents when we planted a much larger garden in Louisiana when I was a kid.

Most of the time, the plants tell you what they need if you just pay attention. It's much more simple to just sit back and let them do the growing.

Though, I am looking for new and interesting ways to garden. My father told me about a particular way he was considering growing his tomatoes. A five gallon bucket with three tomatoes coming about of the bottom and then holes about an inch above the bottom with more planted on the sides.

I that that was a good idea, but I think I'd have four or six coming out of the sides about half way up the 5 gallon bucket or perhaps varying heights from the bottom to help with root growth. We were thinking that the tomato plants would snap at the hole in the bucket after they got so large, but I think a nice two or three inch soft support like gauze or maybe a loose weave cotton would do the trick nicely and it would tie off on the bell of the bucket. We'll have to see, I'm not ready to dive into such a large undertaking just yet, I don't have the counter space to can tomatoes on that scale.

5/11/2008 10:59:00 AM

Sprout Day 8

Happy Mothers Day!


5/09/2008 05:40:00 PM

Sprout Day 6


This is our sprout today. We have a single true leaf coming out of the middle. The one on the left is Seth and the one on the right is Connor. They are very proud of the pumpkin seed. Lets just hope I didn't kill it. I watered it and my kitchen plants earlier and did not realize my husband used the hot water to wash his hands moments before I walked into the kitchen. I watered all my plants with very hot water. =(

I just hope that we can recover.

5/09/2008 12:20:00 PM


Take the screw on lid from a wide mouth jar, fill it about half way with beer and set that out. The slugs will be attracted to the salty liquid and otherwise meet their demise.

5/08/2008 01:27:00 AM

New American Dream?

I found this while frolicking along the superhighway. I haven't checked it out completely yet, but I intend to later today. It looks pretty interesting with a lot of "Conscious Consumer" information. Who couldn't do with a little more?

5/07/2008 11:35:00 PM

Sprout Day 4

Pumpkin Sprout

We have some true leaves forming on the inside. This little guy can grow! It won't be long before we're hardening off and planting.

5/07/2008 02:53:00 PM

There Is Nothing Worse

Than being sick in the spring time. Allergies abound. I've been advised by a professional that I have two choices: put myself in a bubble or move. Knoxville is always high on the worse place for allergies list. Most of the time we take the #2 slot. Ugh. It's just miserable. But that won't stop me from snapping off some shots tonight.

5/06/2008 11:56:00 PM

Other Free Plant Programs

Free stuff is good. Very good.

Check out this offer from Spring Hill. $20.00 worth of plants for the price of shipping. You can't beat that.

Help homeless nursery plants at Free Trees and

Get plants and other stuff from Freecycle.

There are a lot of different ways to get free plants. Hit up the nursery and see what you can salvage from their throw-aways. Landscaping crews are most of the time replacing flowers, see if you can have the ones they've pulled up. Of course, seed and plant swaps from local groups. See if you can dig up the plants from a place that is due to be demolished. There are plenty of ways to get into that garden.

5/06/2008 12:18:00 AM

Sprout Day 3

Amazingly enough, we haven't killed it yet. Yay! Anyway, the pumpkin sprout is getting up there.


On another note, my father pestered me into doing this.


Yep, that is a hanging flower pot. Yep, there is a tomato hanging out of the bottom of it. Remember that space age technology from a few posts ago? It came back to bite me on the ass. My father wouldn't let up until I agreed to give this a shot.

So here it is.

I took a regular hanging pot like you can get at the dollar store or filled with flowers at Wal-Mart. The pot needs to have an one inch hole in the bottom, this usually has a pre-built in screen that is easily cut out. After that is cut out, get some freezer paper or at the very least wax paper and cut a 3 or 4 inch circle. Cut to the center and take out a circle large enough to fit the 'neck' of your tomato plant, but small enough to keep all the water from going straight through taking all the soil with it. This does not have to be beautiful as it is only a functional piece.

Put the collar on the plant, slip through the hole. Careful not to bruise the leaves or damage the stems. The collar you made should stop it from slipping too much. Add your soil. Water, then top off again with soil, repeat until soil is even but not compacted. I bought a bag of soil specifically for hanging baskets because it is designed to hold moisture (meaning less work for me) and it will fertilize for 9 months. I figure that will get me through until the frost kills the plant and I'll have to make plants for next year. Muwhawhawhaw!

Speaking of plants, the CAC gives them away for free and seeds, too. You'll need to go see if you qualify. Quote: "THE GREEN THUMB PROGRAM promotes home gardening and provides free vegetable seeds and plants to eligible gardeners in Knoxville and Knox County. The COMMUNITY GARDEN PROGRAM encourages individuals and families to garden together in public housing developments and provides gardening assistance..." If you wanna garden, they can hook you up. I think as of this posting that the end is June 30. Check out the website and look for the Green Thumb Program.

5/05/2008 12:10:00 AM

More Love Affairs

A set of gorgeous flowers. I found these over at

Daylily Wild Horses

Daylily Wild Horses

Aquilegia Black Barlow

Aquilegia Black Barlow

Asiatic Lily Orange Electric


Bi-color Blue Grape Hyacinth


Black Bat Flower


Coneflower Jade


Coneflower Sundown


Crocosmia Lucifer


Egret Flower


Dahlia Clair Obscur


Dahlia Mary Eveline


Dianthus 'raspberry Swirl'


Astrantia Moulin Rouge


Mayflowering Tulip 'queen Of Night'


Giant Crocus 'vanguard'


Gladiolus Vera Lynn


Hardy Fuchsia Ricartonii


I'll let you go check it out for yourself before I post their entire site.

5/04/2008 07:56:00 PM

Harvesting Rainwater

Did you know that 90% of the worlds rainfall is over the ocean? I warned you we'd get back to this and here we are. I've read on this quite a bit and have discovered two things. 1.) Havesting rainwater is a fabulous idea. 2.) Ingesting it without the proper filtration system is a bad idea. It isn't difficult to harvest rainwater, a few food grade barrels hooked up to your existing gutter system will do it and you'll have enough water to make sure your garden grows. That is small scale.

Large scale, you're looking at cisterns that are bigger than my minivan, piping, backflow supression systems, pumps, valves, two or three phase filtration systems... the list can get kinda long depending on what type of water harvesting you're in for. I like this guy's idea. A nice neat system that gets him through most of the year with the kitchen tap still on treated water from the city. An excellent idea, and affordable, too. He says it cost him about $1500 which is pretty good for all the money he saved.

I also found the American Rainwater Catchment Association. They have a wealth of information to help you get started on harvesting rainwater and if it is economical for you to do so. They also have links for the UK and the International Rainwater Catchment Association.

Interestingly enough, I found these videos on YouTube.

There are just a ton of these types of videos on YouTube.

5/04/2008 02:01:00 PM

Sprout Day 2

Our little sprout did a lot of growing last night. This morning when I got up, it was like this:


Pretty amazing growth, I thought. And not bad for the cut off bottom of a 2 liter bottle.

5/04/2008 03:32:00 AM

I fell in love with the 'Harvest Moon' Echinacea when I first saw it. It's a beautiful color and I'm inclined to add this guy to a cluster of Echinacea plants when I get my garden started. This image came from the Fine Gardening website.

Harvest Moon

I also fell in love with Purple Prince Lily. This image is from the BHG website.

Purple Prince Lily It's amazing. It doesn't look real. But what a color! I think this is definately a must! It would offer such contrast to any flower bed.

It's almost too beautiful to be true.

5/03/2008 10:07:00 PM

A Single Sprout

My son's pumpkin has popped up. I didn't think the seed would germinate but it did. What luck! We are rather proud of our little pumpkin sprout.
Seth's Pumpkin Sprout 5-3-08

I'm just so stunned that it sprouted. Both of my children are excited. They want to watch their jack-o-lantern's grow. We'll see how well this little guy produces.

5/01/2008 12:42:00 AM

I Heart Blueberries

Why do I heart blueberries? Because they are an excellent source of antioidants. It's a blue food. What does the blue stuff in there give you? A megawhopping 30%+ of your daily alotted dosage of Vitamin C, ~20% magnesium, 15% dietary fiber, a dallop of ~10% Vitamin E all for that one cup serving to hand you ~80 calories. It's an anti-aging food, gives healthy memory, keeps skin wrinkle free. In a recent study on blueberries, it was found they are highest foods for eliminating free radicals.

According to WHFoods: "Packed with antioxidant phytonutrients called anthocyanidins, blueberries neutralize free radical damage to the collagen matrix of cells and tissues that can lead to cataracts, glaucoma, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, peptic ulcers, heart disease and cancer. Anthocyanins, the blue-red pigments found in blueberries, improve the integrity of support structures in the veins and entire vascular system. Anthocyanins have been shown to enhance the effects of vitamin C, improve capillary integrity, and stabilize the collagen matrix (the ground substance of all body tissues). They work their protective magic by preventing free-radical damage, inhibiting enzymes from cleaving the collagen matrix, and directly cross-linking with collagen fibers to form a more stable collagen matrix.

Now if that isn't cool, I don't know what is. They went on to state:

"While wine, particularly red wine, is touted as cardioprotective since it is a good source of antioxidant anthocyanins, a recent study found that blueberries deliver 38% more of these free radical fighters. In this study, published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, researchers found that a moderate drink (about 4 ounces) of white wine contained .47 mmol of free radical absorbing antioxidants, red wine provided 2.04 mmol, and a wine made from highbush blueberries delivered 2.42 mmol of these protective plant compounds."
So what's not to love?

Growing them isn't difficult if you have a good bead on things.

Blueberries lack abundant root hairs and have shallow, underdeveloped roots concentrated in the top 14 inches of soil. As a result, regular watering and thick mulch are critical to keep down weeds. A very acid pH is necessary for the plant to extract iron and nitrogen from the soil. Most blueberry woes are caused by pH stresses. Plant 2 year old bushes. When your plants arrive, do not put them in water. Follow the directions and heel in until ready to plant. Adding beneficial mycoorrhizal fungi to the root system will increase yield.

Low bush varieties are grown primarily in New England. High bush throughout the US and the rabbiteye only in the South and West. Lowbush and rabbiteye requireanother variety for cross-pollination, highbush types don't but yields increase with cross-pollination.

To encourage root grown, remove all blossoms for a full 2 to 3 years. The delayed harvest will reward you with higher yields and healthier plants. Blueberries mature at about 50 to 60 days from pollination. From areas prone to late spring frosts, blueberries are a good choice, with strong frost resistance. If your soil is sufficiently acid and well draining, consider adding blueberries to your landscape as easy, low care plants that provide fresh fruit yearly and beautiful red foliage in the fall.
Blueberry bushes should be planted in full sunlight for maximum fruit production. Set out plants as early in the spring as possible. Plant bushes one to two inches deeper in the soil than they were in the nursery, six to eight feet apart, in rows spaced eight to ten feet apart. After plants have been set in the holes, fill the holes three-fourths full with soil mixture, and then flood the hole. After the water has drained, fill in the holes with soil and tamp it down.

They need full sun away from other plants and away from paths, roads and driveways as to not disturb the plants. pH should be around 4.0 to 5.6. About a month after setting out plants, apply one-half to one ounce of 10-10-10 (one to two ounces of 5-10-10 or equivalent) in a band around the base of the plant. In following years, increase rate of fertilizer by one to two ounces (of 10-10-10 or equivalent) per year until mature. When mature, blueberry bushes require about one-half pound of 10-10-10 (or equivalent) per year applied in April. In larger plantings, 40 to 50 pounds of actual nitrogen should be applied per acre.

Mulching the plants with clean straw, rotted sawdust, pine needles, shredded oak leaves, or wood chips will help conserve moisture as well as aid in weed control. A three to four inch layer of the above materials should be suitable. Generally, grass is allowed to grow between the rows of bushes, as long as the grass can be mowed frequently.

Mature blueberry bushes require one to two inches of water each week for best growth and productivity, especially during the harvest season. Blueberry bushes, especially young ones, suffer starvation if weeds or lawn are allowed to grow too close. Blueberry roots are close to the soil surface and need to be protected against competing weeds. Mulching is the recommended method of weed control around plants.

Pruning is the most important aspect of blueberry culture. Annual pruning is necessary to invigorate the bushes, encourage annual fruit production, and prevent the bushes from overbearing. Until the bushes reach maturity (at about eight years old) remove only dead, broken, short or weak shoots. On mature bushes remove one-third of the oldest shoots each year, as well as any broken or diseased branches. Prune in late winter or early spring before growth begins.

Flower buds are produced on the end of a shoot's growth. The flower buds are plump and rounded, leaf buds are small and pointed. Each flower bud may produce a cluster of five to eight berries. If all flower buds are left on, too many berries will be produced and many will be small and worthless. Also, short, thin shoots will grow resulting in poor fruiting wood for the following year's crop. Bushes need little pruning during the first two or three years after planting; only short, weak twiggy growth need be removed.

After two summers in the field, all the plants should be ready to prune for a small crop (1/2 to 1 pint per bush). Remove the thin, twiggy growth and concentrate the potential crop on a small number of stout, fruiting shoots. By limiting the cropping to only the strong shoots, the bush will continue to grow rapidly. A heavy crop at this time dwarfs the bush.

After the fourth summer in the field, some canes may show a weakening due to heavy bearing. From this time on, the first step in pruning is to remove canes which have only small weak, fruiting twigs. They may be cut to the ground or to a strong side shoot near the ground. This will stimulate the sprouting of new canes from the base, which keeps a plant relatively "young." It also allows adequate sunlight to penetrate the bush and promote the setting of fruit buds.
With enough sunlight, the new canes will start producing fruiting laterals in the second year at a relatively low level in the bush and will be able to develop a large zone of fruiting wood in the third and fourth years. In a dense, crowded bush a new cane will take three or four years to produce nothing more than a tuft of fruiting twigs at the very top of the bush.

The number of old canes to be removed depends on the rate of growth over the past several years and varies considerably over six years old; it may be necessary to remove two canes annually due to changing growth rates.

After removing the older canes, the small twiggy growth is eliminated in favor of the stronger shoots. A limited amount of twiggy growth may be left in the lower portion of the bush. At this level shading is not a factor, and the fruit production from these twigs will add to the total crop.

Blueberry bushes are often weakened by: overbearing due to improper pruning, poor soil drainage, insufficient fertilizer, drought injury, crowding, scale injury, and grubs feeding on the roots. After the undesirable conditions have been corrected, it is possible to rejuvenate the plants by removing 1/3 to 1/2 of the old bush. This is accomplished by making large cuts at ground level. The remaining portion of the plant is allowed to bear heavily. The remaining old canes are removed the following spring.

Birds are a major problem with blueberry growing. Bushes often must be covered with netting to protect developing berries from birds. The major insect pests on blueberries are apple maggot, fruit worms, and Japanese beetles. The major diseases are mummy berry, twig blights (caused by several different fungi), and viruses.

Disease prevention is a good rule to follow when growing any small fruit. With blueberry growing, the following cultural practices will help prevent serious problems with most diseases.
Plant disease resistant varieties when possible. Purchase healthy plants.

Regular pruning helps to increase production, removes diseased plant parts, increases air circulation within the plants, and helps initiate fruit bud formation.

Prune out all diseased and insect-infested wood. Remove any wood that is broken or damaged. All diseased wood should be burned to prevent reinfestation of healthy plants. Keep plants free from weeds and debris. Rake under the bushes.

Disease Symptoms
"Mummy berry" is the most serious blueberry disease in Massachusetts. It is a fungus which first appears on newly emerging stems and flower clusters causing them to blacken and die. Later, spores infect blossoms. Developing fruit become tan and hard. These "mummified" berries eventually fall to the ground. Fungal spores overwinter inside the mummified berries. Removing infected berries is essential in preventing the disease from reoccurring. Raking and shallow cultivating between plants helps remove mummified berries. Applying 50 percent urea prills in the spring reduces spores from the mummified berries thereby reducing infections on plant growth.

"Fusicoccom (Godronia) canker" begins on plant parts near the ground, and appears as small reddish spots on the canes, often around a leafscar. These spots enlarge, forming a bullseye pattern. Fusicoccum cankers eventually girdle canes causing wilting and die-back.
"Phomopsis twig blight" causes symptoms very similar to those caused by Fusicoccum canker. Spores from infected plant parts are released in the spring and infect smaller twigs. Flagging and dieback follow initial twig infections. Leaf spots as well as crown infections can also occur.
Planting blueberries in optimal sites and proper pruning practices help to prevent these diseases. Winter cold encourages both Fusicoccum and Phomopsis. Practices which reduce winter damage, such as fertilizing in spring rather than fall, will decrease chances of encountering these diseases.

"Anthracnose" is often a problem on developing fruit. This fungus also overwinters in diseased twigs, spurs, and stem cankers. The spores are spread by rain and wind. Infected fruit bear bright pink spore clusters. Proper pruning practices help control this disease.
"Botrytis" causes rotting on ripening fruit under moist conditions. Encouraging good air circulation and frequent picking reduce this problem.

Nutritional problems: Often, blueberry leaves show a yellowing, or chlorosis, especially between the leaf veins. This is usually a result of the blueberry roots being unable to take up iron from the soil. This "iron deficiency" is more often than not related to soil pH, or acidity. Blueberries should be grown in a pH range of 4.2 to 5.0. Above pH 5.0 the plants show this typical deficiency symptom. If your plants show yellow leaves (as described above), please have your soil tested to determine if the problem is pH related.

Other Problems
Problem: The leaves on my blueberry bushes are turning yellow.
Cause: Interveinal yellowing (chlorosis) of blueberry leaves is most often caused by iron deficiency. When the soil pH is too high, blueberry roots cannot take up iron, and the plant appears to be iron deficient. Have your soil tested for pH level before you apply iron. Often, correcting the pH level is all that's needed.

Highbush blueberries are often harvested too early. Leave them on the bush for 5 to 10 days after they turn blue. Berries should be harvested at two to three day intervals to discourage Japanese beetles, other insects, and fruit rots from entering ripening fruit. Pick directly into the storage bowl or containers so that as little as possible of their protective wax is removed. The more wax, the longer shelf life.

High Bush (vaccinium acorymbosum)

This one can yield up to 20 pounds per plant, 4' to 6', drought resistant. Zones 4-7


Yields up to 20 pounds, very sweet, 4'-6', great ornamental. Zones 4-6


Yields up to 20 pounds of fruit per plant., 3' - 5', good ornamental due to low stature and scarlet foliage. Zones 5-7.


Up to 20 pound yield. May need extra pruning dur to heavy set, very tart until 60% of fruit is ripe, 5'-7', good ornamental. Zones 4-7

Hardy blue

Small berry with superior flavor.


up to 7 pounds of yield, 20"-30", very cold hardy, Zones 3-7

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