Blueberries are this year's garden learning experience

Immature berries adorn our newly arrived plants in our indoor solarium.

Every year, we try to add one more type of food crop to our small urban front yard homestead. By this, we seek to expand our knowledge and understanding of growing food and creating a more balanced permaculture. This year, we are excited by the arrival of 4 different northern varieties of blueberry plants.

Blueberries are native to much of North America, particularly among the northern climates like Minnesota. We typically associate these plants with the understory layer of coniferous forests. But there are many varieties that will grow well under the right conditions in a garden. As surrounding trees have matured over the years, our garden's sunlit area has shifted. This has necessitated moving our sun-loving tomato and pepper plants to a different area, opening up an ideal location for blueberries. We have already begun the process of preparing (feeding) the soil by making use of household compost and yard plants, like evergreen branches, coffee grounds and ground citrus rinds to increase the acid level of the soil.

Blueberries are great addition to a permaculture yard space. The fruit is not only delicious and versatile, but is considered to be a superfood, high in antioxidants, quercetin, vitamins and other nutrients. Studies suggest that blueberries also have a positive effect on the heart, blood pressure and brain functioning.

Our advice? Always look to expanding your gardening experience and learning by introducing new crops each year, and choose plants that are right for your conditions, feed the soil, and increase your garden's permaculture web. We will keep you apprised of our blueberry progress.