Lowbush blueberries may be the tastiest little fruits—but are you cold enough to grow them? On the next You Bet Your Garden, Mike McGrath lays out your options in growing these low-to-the-ground native fruits. Plus, the meaning of “chilling hours.”
Question of the Week:
Back in college I was spoiled by the taste of the delicious wild blueberries of New England. When I finally acquired space to garden a few years ago, I wanted to try and experience that great flavor again. So I put a couple of highbush varieties in 15-inch pots amended with plenty of peat moss. They produce ‘tasty’ berries, but I’m still disappointed.
I suspected this was because I live in northern California (USDA zone 9 b) and blueberries are a cool-climate crop. But the University of California’s “chilling hours database” reports that my local station recorded at least 800 chilling hours a year in each of the last 5 years. (Eight to 1400 hundred hours by the ‘lower than 45 degrees Fahrenheit’ criteria; and 800 to a thousand hours by the ‘more than 32 but lower than 45’ criteria.) This makes me hopeful that I might be able to grow lowbush New England-style blueberries. I’m crazy, right?
—Andre in Santa Rosa
Can you bring New England to Northern California? »