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Fresh Blueberries From Your Home Garden Seminar On Saturday, April 23

by Dr. William M. Johnson
Galveston County Extension Agent - Horticulture

April 22, 2005

Gardening: Blueberries imageBlueberries can be successfully grown in the Upper Gulf Coast area but they do have special growing requirements. Shown above are blueberries growing in the home landscape of David Cohen, MD. Dr. Cohen will present a seminar on blueberries on Saturday, April 23, at the Galveston County Extension Office. Photo credit: Herman Auer

We have been asked many times how one can grow you’re their own blueberries in the garden to enjoy this sweet treat during the summer months! And, it has not gone unnoticed by most people asking about growing blueberries that one does not see them being commonly grown in local gardens.


Growing Blueberries:
SATURDAY, APRIL 23: Growing Blueberries. 9:00 - 10:30 a.m. at the Galveston County Extension Office. Slide presentation on variety selection, soil preparation, establishment, general care and harvesting. No fee but reservation required (281-534-3413, Ext. 6 or GALV3@wt.net).

Weed Control:
SATURDAY, APRIL 30: 9:00 - 11:30 a.m. at the Galveston County Extension Office. Homeowner’s Guide to Weed Control. Identification of common weeds and practical options for controlling weeds in the home landscape. No fee but reservation required (281-534-3413, Ext. 6 or GALV3@wt.net).

Yes, blueberries can be successfully grown in the Upper Gulf Coast area but they do have special growing requirements. If you have an interest in growing blueberries, then be sure to pre-register to attend this Saturday’s program on "Fresh Blueberries from your Home Garden" on Saturday, April 23, from 9:00 - 10:30 a.m. It will be held at the Galveston County Extension Office located at 5115 Highway 3 in Dickinson.

The program will be presented by Dr. David Cohen, an accomplished home grower of blueberries by avocation and a practicing physician by trade. Dr. Cohen has an impressive "blueberry patch" as part of his home landscape and has gained considerable hand-on experience with successfully growing blueberries under our growing conditions.

Dr. Cohen will share his experiences and help guide gardeners who are interested in home-grown blueberries. Topics to be discussed include site selection and preparation, variety recommendations, planting, spacing, fertilizing, pruning, and harvesting.

The presentation is sponsored by the Galveston County Master Gardener Association as a public service to our county residents. The program is free-of-charge but pre-registration is required (GALV3@wt.net or 281-534-3413, ext. 6) due to space limitations.

Just about everyone loves blueberries! Blueberries are a very popular fruit in the United States because of their unique flavor, small edible seeds, and ease of preparation. Blueberries can be eaten fresh or used for jelly, jam, pastries, or juice. They are excellent in pies, muffins, pancakes, and hot oatmeal.

Blueberry fruit is also low in calories and sodium, contains no cholesterol, and is a source of fiber. A major constituent of the fiber is pectin, known for its ability to help lower blood cholesterol.

Blueberries contain measurable quantities of ellagic acid, which has been shown to provide inhibiting effects on chemically induced cancer in laboratory studies. Blueberry juice also contains a compound that helps to prevent bacteria from anchoring themselves to the bladder, thereby helping to prevent urinary tract infections.

Blueberries bring a unique combination of delicious fruit and striking ornamental beauty to the garden and landscape. Be sure to reserve a seat for the upcoming "Fresh Blueberries from your Home Garden" to learn what pitfalls to avoid and what is needed for a successful harvest.

Gardeners’ Q&A’s

Question: In last week’s column, you discussed harvesting of several commonly grown vegetables. When should squash and zucchini be picked?

Answer: Common green zucchini is best harvested when 6-10 inches long, yellow types at 4-7 inches and patty pan or scallop types when 3-5 inches in diameter. Summer squash harvested larger than this will develop hard skins and large inedible seeds. Spaghetti squash may be harvested when golden yellow. Frequent picking will encourage continuous production.

Question: When should okra be picked? What about beets?

Answer: Okra is at its best quality when the pods are 2-to-3 inches long. Okra pods should be harvested while still tender, which is usually five to six days after flowering. Plants should be harvested 2-to-4 times a week. Regular picking increases yield. Mature pods left on the plant will reduce flowering and fruit set. Pods may be cut from the plant with a knife or snapped off by hand.

When harvested, okra pods rapidly lose moisture. This causes the loss of pod quality. It is recommended that harvesting be conducted in the cooler parts of the day, mornings or evenings, and the harvested okra be kept as cool as possible. Avoid leaving the harvested okra in the sun for long periods of time. When harvesting okra, you should wear long-sleeved shirts as well as gloves for skin protection as okra leaves and pods have small spines which can cause mild skin inflammation and itching in some people.

Beets become increasingly fibrous as they age and thus should be harvested when they are 1 1/4 to 2 inches in diameter. The beet tops can also be eaten as greens. Harvest leaves when young (up to 4 to 6 inches long) for best flavor and tenderness.

Dr. Johnson is a horticulturist with the Galveston County
Extension Office of Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A&M University. Visit his web site at http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston/index.htm

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Gardening: March Gardening Calendar Includes Seminar On Butterfly Gardening - March 2, 2005 article

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Gardening: Garden Checklist For April Includes Pecan Field Day - April 6, 2005 article

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