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» Articles » Health » Blueberries: From The Hedge To The Fridge

Blueberries: From The Hedge To The Fridge

by Douglas L. Bishop on 8/23/2008 13:41

Here’s another one of those great home gardener's dream plants, the blueberry, which makes an ideal landscaping hedge and produces one of the most nutritious berries you can eat.

A row of blueberry shrubs, with the plants spaced at least 5 feet apart, will create a nice screen or an informal hedge for your home landscaping. The plants will grow in full sun or partial shade and will attain a height of 6 to 10 feet or more, depending on the varieties you choose. As they become established, you can shape and prune them to suit your location and to encourage the production of fruit. The blueberry shrubs are quite resistant to diseases and insects, and require little ongoing maintenance.

Blueberry plants can be found growing wild in the redwood forests of California and in the Appalachian Mountains of the southeastern United States. The natural environment of these areas provides the somewhat acid soil requirements and moist growing conditions needed by blueberry bushes in order to thrive and produce berries. Such conditions can be imitated in your home garden by working peat moss (for increased acidity) into the backfill soil as you plant and by mulching heavily after you plant (for moisture retention).

Young blueberry shrubs should be set into the ground in late fall or very early spring. By the second or third growing season, the plants will begin to produce berries which should ripen in the mid to late summer. Observe the berries as they change colors from a pinkish-red to deep blue, and pick them after they have been blue for about a week or 10 days. They should pull easily from the shrub. If you are unable to grow the plants yourself, look for pick-your-own blueberry farms as a good and fun source of fresh berries, or buy some at your local farmer’s market.

Blueberries are a good source of the B vitamins and Vitamin C as well as being a good source of fiber in your diet. They are good for strengthening the body’s immune system and for improving circulation. Enjoy fresh blueberries on their own or mixed with other fruits in salads, added to yogurt or ice cream, or baked into pies or delicious cakes such as Aunt Nora’s Famous Blueberry Cake.

2 cups of fresh blueberries

2 cups of flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1 teaspoon of salt

½ cup of shortening

1 cup of sugar

2 beaten eggs

1/3 cup of milk

1 teaspoon of vanilla

Cream together the shortening and sugar; add eggs, milk, and vanilla, and stir together. Add the blueberries, flour, baking powder, and salt and stir the mixture together gently until it is well mixed. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 50 minutes.

Top the cooled cake with Fluffy Boiled Icing, which is made by combining 1 cup of sugar, 1/3 cup of water, 1 tablespoon of light corn syrup, and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Stir these ingredients together until blended well. Boil slowly without stirring until the mixture will spin a long thread when dropped from a spoon. Beat 2 egg whites until stiff. Pour the hot syrup slowly over the egg whites while beating on high speed. Beat until very fluffy and it holds its shape. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla and beat until blended. Spread on the cake. If not thick enough, add 2 or 3 tablespoons of confectioner’s sugar. Slice the blueberry cake and enjoy it with a scoop of fresh blueberries on the side!

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