Monday, Monday, Monday. Means I get to pick a vintage mag issue to peruse and share. Tough choice…a picnic, a salmon mold, or blueberry pie and that’s without even going in to the stacks. July just says blueberries and that pie looks good! Well, on the East Coast July says blueberries, but from what I have been reading we should be picking a cup a day next April from our garden. I am looking forward to that!
I thought the most amazing recipe for blueberry pie was from America’s Test Kitchen where they take half the required berries and crush them in a pot and simmer down a bit to thicken add a grated granny smith apple, the whole blueberries and two tablespoons of tapioca for a tangy, bright and well set filling. Then they add vodka to the crust! I guess this is called the Foolproof Pie Dough. The vodka cooks off, but makes a wetter dough which is easier to work with. Typically a wetter dough is tough, but the vodka does not allow the gluten strands to form. Ingenious.
I recently found out why a blueberry hedge seemed like such a novel idea in the So Cal garden. It’s because they only recently created a low-chill variety that does well in our zone. Choosing the right variety is the first step to growing good blueberries and then I found this article in Sunset…
“In California’s mildest climates, more and more gardeners are finding that ‘Sharpblue’–once thought to be a rabbiteye blueberry (Vaccinum ashei) but now known to be a southern highbush type (V. corymbosum) with low chill requirements–outperforms all other varieties.
Although it’s self-fertile and so can be grown alone, ‘Sharpblue’ does better when cross-pollinated with other southern highbush varieties such as ‘Sunshineblue’. During peak harvest (in April and May), the ‘Sharpline’ shown above left yields a couple of cups of fruit every three days. Berries are large, sweet, and juicy. The plant bears occasional fruit most of the year, and in fall yields a small second harvest.
How to grow blueberries
In coastal areas, plant blueberries in full sun. Inland, plant where they’ll get some afternoon shade. Plants need consistent watering for good fruit production, and acid soil that drains well (Southern California’s soils are naturally alkaline).
To compensate, plant them in containers filled with 100 percent peat moss; or try one of the following recipes:
* The six-year-old in the barrel grows in a mix of 6 parts moistened peat moss, 3 parts azalea mix, and 1 part sand.
* The mix in the plastic cylinder is equal parts peat moss and azalea mix.
From January through September, feed blueberries every six weeks with an acid fertilizer. In November, work in about 1/4 cup of soil sulfur around base of plants.
Blueberries require little pruning. In winter, shape plants and restore vigor by cutting branches three years old or older back to the base. Remove only branches that are too tall or no longer bear fruit.