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in Fruit & veg
Hi all, I noticed earlier today that both of my bilberries are in flower! They were only planted (in large tubs of ericaceous compost) last Autumn but flowered in about May/June this year (no fruit set). They both look very healthy but are obviously a bit confused!
How big are they? I collected some tiny ones 3 years ago from a nursery in Cumbria and they are only just getting to about a foot wide and 6" high and haven't flowered yet. No confusion about seasons though as some leaves are starting to colour up a beautiful red. One or two leaves turning on the neighbouring blueberries too.
All of them are looking very healthy though so fingers crossed for a good crop this year. The blossom on the blueberries was frozen at just the wrong moment so we only had about a dozen berries in all this year.
Fingers crossed for better luck next year and I hope you get a good crop too.
Obelilixx, the bilberries are about 18 inches wide and about a foot tall - leaves still green at the moment, but some of my blueberry leaves are turning that lovely red colour. I had the same problem with the blueberry flowers being frosted with the late start we had this year so also few berries. With luck we'll have a better start next Spring!
Alan, I also understand bilberries are tricky to grow and that they must have acid soil which never dries out, so have planted them in ericaceous compost, watering regularly with rainwater from my water butts and have been feeding them with ericaceous feed. I've not had any fruit yet so can't tell you which I prefer! They apparently have a smaller crop per bush than blueberries though, so you might want to take that into consideration.
I can remember eating native bilberries as a child and them having a much more intense flavour (and blue effect on the tongue) than blueberries.
I have my blue and bilberries planted ina part of the veg patch where I have dug out deep, fertile but alakline loam and rpelaced the soil with bags of ericaceous compost. Apart from having their blossom frosted at teh wrong moment, my two blueberries have enjoyed the cool wet spring and put on masses of new growth and look amazingly healthy. The two wee bilberries have done well too and almost doubled in size this season.
For winter, I shall erect a sturdier frame than last year and place a netting windbreak around them and I'll leave it in place till the frosts have passed and the fruit has set. This year the winds bent and broke the frame so I ended up removing the netting too early. We've also booked our hols for next August and not July so I'm expecting to get the best of the black and red currants and all the blueberries and strawberries. This year a lot ended up being scoffed by the birds. I always leave them some but there are limits.
Good idea about the windbreak, Obeliixx - now you've mentioned it I think I'll do the same with fleece and leave the frame up so it can be netted after the bees have done their job to prevent the birds scoffing the lot! I was thinking of building a proper fruit cage and moving everything into it but, like you, I don't mind the birds having a fair share. However, I've a feeling the wood pigeons equate the phrase "fair share" with "eat every single one even if it means getting too heavy to fly"!
I remember in my fathers greengrocers shop circa 1950 woven wooden baskets from Eastern Europe (maybe Poland) packed tight with wonderful "Bilberries" alas no more ? Also sold in the local bakers shops bilberry pies with cream on top, same size as egg custard pies/tarts, wonderful blue lips and tongues. We also went on car trips to the moors north Leeds? Ilkley ? area and collected the little billberries found amongst the heather- blue finger job ! Well worth it. I wonder what has happened to the in porting trade etc. of these wonderful berries ? Any ideas !