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Berry Healthy Recipes, Straight from the Garden!

There’s nothing more refreshing than the taste of summer berries, and in August your berries are still prime for picking!

Many berries ripen around mid-summer, so by now you already may have some practice with harvesting. Now that summer is starting to wind down, try these new recipes to prolong that sweet seasonal freshness.

When ripe, raspberries are easily removed from the plant. Refrigerate immediately and use between three and five days after picking.

“First, how can I tell when my berries are ready?”

  • Blueberries: Don’t pick them until they’re fully ripe! Wait until they turn a uniform color and can easily be pulled away from the plant. But don’t rely on color alone; check first if the berries are firm, rather than mushy. Store them in the refrigerator after you’ve collected them.
  • Strawberries: Keep the cap and stem attached. Store in the refrigerator for 2-5 days.
  • Raspberries: When ripe, raspberries are easily removed from the plant. Refrigerate immediately and use between three and five days after picking. Harvest every few days. Check soil pH. If your soil is not acidic enough, add Espoma’s Soil Acidifier.
  • Blackberries: Don’t pick blackberries too early! Wait until they dull in color from the black, glossy stage. Pick ripe blackberries every 3-6 days.

For more information on taking care of your organic garden, check out our Berry Growing Guide!

Strawberries are a favorite summer fruit. Yet store-bought berries can’t come near the intense and fresh flavor of those picked right off the vine from your very own garden.

Once you’ve collected your berries, take them to the next level with these easy and delicious recipes!

  1. Slow cooker granola berry crisp: A perfect summertime dessert, made with your choice of berries from the garden. This recipe is light, fresh and healthy—a true seasonal staple!
  2. Summer berry cheesecake salad: With just five ingredients, this recipe combines the sweetness of berries with all the great flavor of cheesecake filling. Makes for a sublime summer fruit salad!
  3. Red berry vanilla almond smoothie bowl: Great for breakfast (or any other time of the day), this treat is fewer than 300 calories and takes five minutes to make. It’s a great way to add an extra summery punch to your regular breakfast routine.
  4. Summer berry kale salad: This summer salad, combines signature vibrant and tropical flavors in one quick, easy dish!
  5. Berry watermelon fruit salad: A classic take on combining peak season fruit. You can make this fruit salad well into September. Bonus tip: add a light sprinkle of lime juice before eating!
  6. Mini summer berry galettes: You’ve already got your berries ready to go! Just fold your fruits into the pie crust and bake. Now you’ve got a healthy, sweet summer treat!

What is your favorite way to prepare fresh berries in the kitchen? Try any of these recipes and want to show us a picture? Share your experience with us on our Facebook page

How to Fertilize Blueberry Plants

There’s nothing like fresh-picked blueberries to add to a smoothie, salad or dessert. Rich in many health-benefiting nutrients, anti-oxidants, and vitamins, blueberries don’t just taste delicious, they’re also nutritious.

The secret to grow delicious, thriving blueberry plants: feed them, a lot.

Maximize your blueberry bushes’ health, help it resist insects and diseases, and boost your harvest by providing the right kinds of soil amendments.

When to Fertilize Blueberries

Fertilizing is recommended in early spring before the leaves have grown in. This gives the fertilizer time to be absorbed by the roots of the blueberry before it enters its active growth stage during summer.

Feed new plants once in early spring and again in late spring. Healthy, established plants should not need to be fed more often than once a year.

Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries, Brazelberries Peach Sorbet

Photo courtesy of BrazelBerries

The Best Fertilizer for Blueberries

Blueberry bushes respond best to acid fertilizers such as those for rhododendrons and azaleas. Holly-tone has long been used by professional gardeners as the best source of food for berries.

From blocking weeds to conserving water, mulching goes hand in hand with fertilizing and is also very important for blueberry bushes. By feeding as it decomposes, mulch helps to maintain soil acidity. The best mulch options are oak leaves, pine straw or pine bark. Gardeners should spread it in a 3-4” thick layer.

Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries

How to Fertilize Blueberries

For established plants, spread one cupful of Holly-tone per foot of branch spread. Double the quantity if branch spread is 3’ or larger.

If the area to be fed is mulched, remove as much mulch as you can, feed, and then restore the mulch on top of the plant food. If you can’t remove the mulch, just double recommended feeding rates.

To lower the pH of soils for optimum growth of acid-loving plants such as blueberries, you can also mix in Soil Acidifier as needed.

Always water well after fertilizing.

To learn more about blueberries and how to plant, care for and grow, visit our Organic Blueberry Growing Guide.

No Way Blue Jay! Keep Birds from Eating Berries

 

Sun-kissed, slightly tart blueberries. Sweet, juicy raspberries. Scrumptious strawberries as sweet as candy. Sugary, tart blackberries.

Who can resist such delightful, fresh flavors right from the garden?

Certainly not local birds! Crows, blackbirds, robins, jays and more swoop in and eat your berries right from under you!

If you’re growing blueberries (or any berries!), you want to make sure you get to enjoy them, not the birds. Here are our tips for protecting your berries from those hungry birds — while still being kind.

Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries

If you’re growing blueberries, make sure you get to enjoy them, not this sparrow. Here are our tips for protecting your berries from those hungry birds — while still being kind.

Take Back the Patch — How to Protect Fruit from Birds, Naturally and Organically

1. Location, Location, Location. Plant or move berries away from hedges and larger shrubs since birds like to rest there.

2. Take Cover! When your berries are immature, add a row cover or bird netting. Make sure the netting is secure, so the birds can’t undo it. This is, hands down, the best way to protect berries.

3. A Sprinkle of Sparkle. Tie a shiny bird scare tape, or foil tape, around your berry bushes or plants to deter birds. Birds don’t like the movement or the tape’s bright reflection.

4. A Dash of Pepper. Sprinkle cayenne pepper around your berry plants as they begin to ripen. This method is super easy, but makes it hard to enjoy eating berries as you pick! You have to wash off the berries before eating to remove any remaining pepper.

5. Snack Attack! Install a few bird feeders to encourage birds to eat there — and not your berry bushes!

Victory! Now, make sure your blueberries continue to thrive by feeding with Holly-tone. Keep the soil acidic, too, with Espoma’s Organic Soil Acidifier.

Learn more about growing organic blueberries in our berry guide. You’ll be a pro in no time!

The Easiest Blueberries for Beginners to Grow

Grow blueberries in your garden, on your patio or balcony in containers. They don’t take much space or effort. And, once you know the basics, you are good to grow.

Native to North America, blueberries grow well in acidic soil and in areas with at least 140 frost-free days per year. They’re also perfect for organic gardeners since they can easily be grown without pesticides.

Below are our favorite picks for beginners to grow.

New jersey blueberry, organic blueberries.

Photo courtesy of USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown.

Jersey Blueberry – One of the classics in the blueberry world. This reliable plant is super easy to grow and produces pounds and pounds of blueberries.

Blueberry Type: Northern Highbush

Light: Full sun

Size: 6-8’ H x 5-6’ W

Zone: 4-7

Chill Hours: 800-1,000

Ripening Season: Late: End of July-End of August

Taste and Size: Medium blueberries that taste rich and super sweet

Yield: High yield, 7-10 pounds of blueberries

Features:

  • Great blueberries for baking
  • Fiery orange fall foliage
  • Tolerant of many soil types
Photo courtesy of Robert H. Mohlenbrock, hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

Photo courtesy of Robert H. Mohlenbrock, hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

Emerald Blueberry – These berries are so enchanted you’ll think they’re from the Emerald City of Oz. This new blueberry variety is one you can count on. Year after year, it produces some of the biggest blueberries you’ve ever seen.

Blueberry Type: Southern Highbush

Light: Full sun

Size: 5-6’ H x 5-6’ W

Zone: 7-10

Chill Hours: 250

Ripening Season: Mid-season: End of May-Mid-June

Taste and Size: Enormous blueberries with a sweet flavor

Yield: High yield

Features:

  • Looks great in the landscape
  • Dependable in Southern climates
  • Grows well in Central and South Florida

 

 

pink icing blueberries, easiest blueberries to grow

Photo courtesy of Brazelberries

Pink Icing – With breathtaking spring and fall foliage and large, sweet berries mid-summer, this gem makes small spaces shine. Plus, these bushes are self-pollinating, so only one bush is needed to produce fruit.

Blueberry Type: Dwarf

Light: Full sun

Size: 3’ H x 4’ W

Zone: 5-10

Chill Hours: 500

Ripening Season: Mid-summer

Taste and Size: Large blueberries with sweet, robust flavor

Yield: Moderate yield

Features:

  • Works well in containers or in landscape
  • Likes acidic soil
  • Beautiful year-round foliage

Looking for more options? Learn about the best tasting blueberries and the best blueberries for containers.

Visit our Organic Berry Gardening Guide for even more tips and tricks.

How to Plant Blueberries in Containers

Laura from Garden Answer shows how to plant blueberries in containers and fertilize with Espoma’s Holly-tone. Watch the video below to see just how easy it is!

 

 

Blueberry Basics: Know What to Grow

We all strive to live a healthy life and that trend is making its way into the garden. Homegrown organic food doesn’t just taste good, but also packs a nutritional punch. It’s safe to say you’ll be anything but blue when growing blueberries.

Jams, muffins and smoothies are only a few steps away! And if those treats don’t inspire you, get this: When you eat antioxidant-packed blueberries, your brain gets a boost, your belly fat can be reduced and you may even prevent certain cancers.

Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries

Blueberries are simply the best. So grow the best blueberry varieties you can!

Answer a few quick questions below, and then skim our Blueberry Variety Guide to find the absolute best type for you.

Berry Basic: Questions to Ask Before Choosing Which Blueberry to Grow

Growing blueberries is easy as long as you pick the right berry variety for your yard. Set yourself up for a berry successful season by answering these common berry FAQs.

1. What type of blueberry works best in your area? There’s a type that works best for each USDA Gardening zone. Find yours using our chart below.

  • Half-High – Zones 3-6
  • Northern Highbush Zones 4-7
  • Southern Highbush Zones 8-10

2. What’s the pH of your soil? Grab a soil test and discover the pH of your soil. To thrive, blueberries need a soil pH between 4-5.5. Lower your soil’s pH with Espoma’s Soil Acidifier. This organic alternative is much safer than Aluminum Sulfate. Also, plan to use an organic fertilizer for acidic plants, such as Holly-tone.

Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries

3. How many chill hours are in your area? Blueberries need a certain amount of time in dormancy, these are called chill hours. See how many chill hours are in your area and select a blueberry that matches.

4. When do you want your blueberries to ripen?

Early: Some blueberries ripen as early as May and are finished by the start of June.

Late: Other varieties of berries only ripen in mid-August and produce fruit through September.

5. What’s your ideal blueberry taste and look like?

Decide whether you want sweet or tart berries.

Then select the plumpness. Do you want teeny-tiny or super-sized blueberries?

To learn more about blueberries and how to plant, care for and grow, visit our Organic Blueberry Growing Guide.

Blues Legends: The Best Tasting Blueberries to Grow

With vibrant hues of blue and sweet flavor, no summer fruit is better known (or better for you) than the blueberry. These blue wonders play a vital role in health and well-being.

Plant a blueberry bush today and savor the fresh berries all summer.

If flavor is your top priority, you absolutely must add these blueberries to your garden! Just imagine how mouthwatering that first, homegrown blueberry will be! Until then, though, you’ll keep busy! While growing blueberries, be sure to feed with Holly-tone and keep the soil pH low with Soil Acidifier.

Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries

Photo courtesy of Richard Shiell for Monrovia.

Southmoon Blueberry – A southern favorite that does well in hot temperatures, the Southmoon blueberry is a delicious pick. The sky-blue berries are a nice touch, too. Plant in lighter, sandy soils and ammend with lots of organic material.

Blueberry Type: Southern Highbush

Light: Full sun

Size: 6’ H x 6’ W

Zone: 6-9

Chill Hours: 300-500

Ripening Season: Early: Early-late July

Taste and Size: Large berries with sweet, juicy blueberry flavor

Yield: Moderate yield

Features:

  • Showy white flowers
  • Self-pollinating
'O'Neil' Southern Highbush, Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries

Photo courtesy of Richard Shiell for Monrovia.

O’Neal Blueberry – The O’Neal produces dark blue berries that taste more like candy than fruit. With high-sugar content, you’ll want to eat these yummy berries right as soon as you pick them. As a semi-upright shrub, you can let this blueberry grow wild and free or train it to grow up.

Blueberry Type: Southern Highbush

Light: Full sun

Size: 4-6’ H x 4-6’ W

Zone: 5-9

Chill Hours: 500-600

Ripening Season: Early: Early May-Early June

Taste and Size: Large blueberries that taste juicy and sugary-sweet

Yield: Moderate yield

Features:

  • Produces an extra crop
  • Works great in containers
  • Dazzling red fall foliage in cool climates
  • Evergreen in warmer climates

Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries

Polaris Blueberry – If you love to eat blueberries early in the season, the Polaris is for you! The Polaris was developed in Minnesota, so you know it can handle the cold, too! Go ahead, and pair with Northblue to increase blueberry yield.

Blueberry Type: Half-high

Light: Full sun

Size: 3-4’ H x 3-4’ W

Zone: 3-8

Chill Hours: 800+

Ripening Season: Early: Early July-Early August

Taste and Size: Medium, firm blueberries that taste sweet with a hint of acidity

Yield: High yield, 4-7 pounds of blueberries

Features:

  • Native
  • Very aromatic
  • Extremely cold-hardy
  • All-season beauty: white blooms in spring and rosy red foliage in fall

Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries

BrazelBerries Blueberry Glaze – These berries are small in stature and have incredibly glossy, dark green leaves reminiscent of boxwood, and can easily be sheared as such. Small, almost black berries present in little bundles mid-summer. With their deep flesh color, Blueberry Glaze packs a healthful punch with antioxidant-rich qualities.

Blueberry Type: Dwarf

Light: Full sun

Size: 2’ H x 3’ W

Zone: 5-8

Chill Hours: 600

Ripening Season: Mid-summer

Taste and Size: Small, intense flavor much like the flavor of wild blueberries

Yield: Moderate yield

Features:

  • Works well in containers or in landscape
  • Likes acidic soil
  • Beautiful year-round foliage

Looking for more options? To learn more about blueberries, the best blueberries for containers, how to plant, care for and grow, visit our Organic Blueberry Growing Guide.

Espoma’s Guide to Growing Organic Berries

Grow berries for more than just flavor! They’re filled with antioxidants and they’re good for your heart, body and brain. Plus, the plants look beautiful in the landscape.

Are you ready to plant a blueberry this year? Trust us, they are berry easy — even if you’ve heard otherwise. The trick is to pick the perfect berry for your conditions and to give it the right care.

Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries

Blueberries for Beginners

Questions to Ask Before Choosing Which Blueberry to Grow

Berry Good Advice for Gardeners

The Best Blueberries to Grow in Containers

The Best Tasting Blueberries

No Birds Allowed!

Fertilizing blueberry plants

How to grow raspberries

How to grow blackberries

How to grow strawberries

How to plant blueberries in containers

Grow delicious strawberries in your own garden

Berry recipes 

The Best Blueberries to Grow in Containers

Blueberries are nutritional powerhouses packed with high concentrations of antioxidants that help guard against cancer and heart disease. Just one serving of blueberries serves up almost 25 percent of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C.

Growing blueberries maximizes small spaces and keeps fresh, nutritious fruit nearby. Even if space is limited, you can still grow blueberries at home. Some blueberry shrubs are the perfect fit for containers on the porch, patio or balcony. Brazelberries are a true favorite for container gardens.

Ought to Pot: The Best Blueberries for Container Gardening

Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries

Photo courtesy of BrazelBerries.

BrazelBerries Pink Icing – With breathtaking spring and fall foliage and large, sweet berries mid-summer, this gem makes small spaces shine. Plus, these bushes are self-pollinating, so only one bush is needed to produce fruit.

Blueberry Type: Dwarf

Light: Full sun

Size: 3’ H x 4’ W

Zone: 5-10

Chill Hours: 500

Ripening Season: Mid-summer

Taste and Size: Large blueberries with sweet, robust flavor

Yield: Moderate yield

Features:

  • Works well in containers or in landscape
  • Likes acidic soil
  • Beautiful year-round foliage

Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries

Patriot Blueberry – The Patriot puts on a show each season – from striking white blooms in spring to warm, vivid foliage in fall. During summer, you’ll be busy munching on up to 20 pounds of blueberries!

Blueberry Type: Northern Highbush

Light: Full sun

Size: 4-8’ H x 3-5’ W

Zone: 3-7

Chill Hours: 800-1,000

Ripening Season: Early: Mid-End of July

Taste and Size: Large blueberries that taste classically sweet

Yield: High yield, 10-20 pounds of blueberries

Features:

  • Native
  • Cold-hearty
  • Works in the landscape or as a hedge
  • Adapts to various soil types, including heavy or wet soil
Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries, Brazelberries Peach Sorbet

Photo courtesy of BrazelBerries

BrazelBerries Peach Sorbet – Full of charm, these compact blueberry plants are four-season showstoppers with stunning leaves ranging from peach to pink to orange to emerald green. Spring’s white, bell-shaped flowers will give way to an abundant summer crop of healthy, sweet blueberries mid-summer.

Blueberry Type: Dwarf

Light: Full sun

Size: 1½’ H x 2’ W

Zone: 5-10

Chill Hours: 300

Ripening Season: Mid-summer

Taste and Size: Medium blueberries with a sweet, tropical essence

Yield: High yield

Features:

  • Works well in containers or in landscape
  • Likes acidic soil
  • Plants keep leaves through winter when the foliage transitions to a rich eggplant purple
Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries

Photo courtesy of Doreen Wynja for Monrovia

Sunshine Blue Blueberry – These berries are even more nutritious than other blueberries because they’re high in Vitamin P. Another fun attribute of the Sunshine Blue is their hot-pink flowers in spring and blazing red leaves in fall!

Blueberry Type: Southern Highbush

Light: Full sun

Size: 3-4’ H x 3-4’ W

Zone: 5-10

Chill Hours: 150

Ripening Season: Mid-season: End of May-End of June

Taste and Size: Medium blueberries that taste opulent and sweet

Yield: Moderate yield, 5-10 pounds of blueberries

Features:

  • Tolerant of higher soil pH
  • Love the California sunshine and heat
  • Semi-evergreen

Northsky Blueberry – Meet the most cold-hardy blueberry out there. The Northsky can withstand temperatures of -45° and can even bear snow on its branches. In spring, the Northsky produces lots of sweet, white blooms that look absolutely darling.

Blueberry Type: Half-high

Light: Full sun

Size: 2-4 H x 2-3 W

Zone: 3-7

Chill Hours: 800+

Ripening Season: Mid-season: Mid-End of July

Taste and Size: Small, firm blueberries that taste fresh, wild and free

Yield: Small yield, up to 2 pounds of blueberries

Features:

  • Extremely cold-hardy
  • Works in the landscape or as a hedge
  • Elegant burgundy fall foliage
Brazelberries jelly bean, Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries

Photo courtesy of Brazelberries

BrazelBerries Jelly Bean – This blueberry is prolific – producing a bumper crop of large, flavorful blueberries mid-summer with a super sweet flavor like homemade blueberry jelly. Brilliant green new foliage emerges in spring which gives way to darker greens with red hues throughout the summer and fall.

Blueberry Type: Dwarf

Light: Full sun

Size: 1’ H x 2’ W

Zone: 4-8

Chill Hours: 1,000+

Ripening Season: Mid-summer

Taste and Size: Medium to large blueberries with homemade jelly flavor

Yield: High yield, bumper crop

Features:

  • Works well in containers or in landscape
  • Likes acidic soil
  • Beautiful year-round foliage
  • Prune annually during winter dormancy

Looking for more options? To learn more about blueberries, the best tasting berries, how to plant, care for and grow, visit our Organic Blueberry Growing Guide.

Growing Blueberries Is Easy With These 4 Tips

Pancakes, tarts, pies, we love adding blueberries to any recipe. And we’re not alone.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recognizes July as National Blueberry Month! If any fruit deserves its own month, it’s the all-American blueberry.

Take advantage of peak fruiting season to celebrate this delicious little berry.

Health Benefits

Not only delicious and popular, blueberries are one of the top 10 healthiest foods.

These nutritional powerhouses are packed with antioxidants that help guard against cancer and heart disease. Blueberries are low in calories, but rich in fiber and vitamins. One serving of blueberries serves up almost 25 percent of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C. Plus, blueberries have a favorable impact on blood sugar regulation in persons already diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Convinced?

Grow your own blueberries – It’s easy!

The secret to blueberry success, according to berry expert Amelie Brazelton Aust, at Fall Creek Farm & Nursery who’s been growing blueberries on her family farm since she was a child, is the Four Ps — planting, pruning, picking and protecting.

JELLY BEAN Brazelberries blueberries on bush

‘Jelly Bean’ BrazelBerries blueberries

Simply follow these four simple tips to help bushes flourish season after season!

1. Planting

First, plant the right variety. Compact blueberries, like those from BrazelBerries, are perfect for growing in containers, raised beds or even directly in the garden.

Once you’ve chosen a blueberry bush, plant it in a sunny spot with at least six hours of sun each day.

Next, consider the soil. Blueberries love acidic soils. A pH of 4.5-5.5 is ideal. A simple soil test indicates acidity, which can easily be adjusted with a balanced organic fertilizer. Soil kits and amendments are available at any local garden center.

Give the plant’s roots plenty of growing room when planting in a container.

Plant dwarf blueberry bushes in pots 16” or more in diameter and water deeply and regularly to make sure all of the soil within the pot is moist.

2. Pruning

Cutting branches off any plant can be daunting, but it’s best for the plant. Pruning gives berries more space between branches, allowing air to flow freely and preventing disease.

“It’s best to prune blueberries in late winter when the plants are still dormant,” says Aust, “but I’ve pruned mine in the spring before flowering, and they’ve done great.”

Remove stems that are damaged, old or dead. Take out up to a quarter or even a third of the bush, then trim it up to a neat and tidy look.

Fertilizing is recommended in early spring. “Choose a balanced, organic, slow-release fertilizer for acid-loving plants,” Aust says.

Aust recommends a second application of fertilizer in late spring to give the plants an extra burst of energy for fruit production.

BrazelBerries Jelly Bean in italian pot

‘Jelly Bean’ BrazelBerries blueberries

3. Picking

With planting and pruning in the bag, the next step — picking — is the pay off. Be sure to watch your berries carefully and pick them before the birds do! Aust suggests getting one berry for yourself and one for the birds.

4. Protecting

A little protection ensures your blueberry bush will thrive for another bountiful season. Keep critters away by covering bushes with bird netting in the spring.

Winter weather poses the biggest risk to berry bushes, so be sure to protect roots.

“In very cold regions, apply a deep layer of mulch around the base of the bush to protect the roots,” Aust says. “Blueberries in pots are easiest to protect from the cold — just move the pots into an unheated garage or against a building and cover with thick mulch, burlap or a blanket.”

Spring’s sudden cold snaps endanger emerging growth, as well. Be sure to cover blueberry bushes with burlap or blankets when the forecast calls for frost once buds and flowers are emerging.blueberry pancakes Jamie oliver

Are you growing berries this year? What will you be making with them? Check out this super easy one cup blueberry pancakes recipe from Jamie Oliver:

blueberry pancakes Jamie oliver