By James Wall.
So it was back to the blueberry farm on the rolling hills of Gippsland in late October to see what was going on. Blueberries are already available in Melbourne fruit shops, but they are grown in northern NSW. Over here in Gippsland, they have begun to set fruit but are many weeks away from being ripe.
Being organic, the rows were being slashed and plants were being weeded. They have been fed with a seaweed and with fish emulsion, but from now on, the goodness of the soil will be enough to finish off the crop.
You can now clearly see all the plants with full leaf and you can compare the earliness and fruit size of many of the varieties. You are also reminded of the differences in height. The one plant that really stands out as being perfect for the home gardener is Magnolia. It only gets just over a metre or so high, and it is evergreen, so will look leafy all year round. Importantly it has a good yield and great flavour. Yes there are some new blueberry varieties on the way, but Magnolia is currently one of the best.
Joel lets me know about a new variety called Eureka. It was part of a breeding program that the resulting cross pollinating of two varieties resulted in a plant with jumbo sized fruit. Joel himself has a breeding program and one day may just breed the ultimate berry. Plant breeding requires lots of patience and determination. Things are measured in years and rewards can take decades. Eureka is available exclusively to Coles Supermarkets. Their season is finishing soon, but I did manage to get a punnet yesterday and they are certainly good eating. The also have a great website.
So now it is a matter of watering regularly and waiting for the fruit to ripen. This can seem like an eternity but it will be sooner than later. For home gardeners, now is the time to protect fruit from birds, as they love them too. We’ll look at some solutions there over the next couple of months.