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Deadline to place orders for plants 4-H is selling is March 2

Byk Sara Drake for the Salisbury Post

The Rowan County 4-H program is selling blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, strawberry and fig plants to support activities during the year.

The blueberries are Southern varieties developed for the local growing environment. The ripening season is from mid-June through July. Varieties available include Tifblue and Premier.

When you get your blueberries home, it is recommended that two or more varieties be planted together to assure higher yields and better quality fruit from cross-pollination.

Blueberries have a shallow root system, therefore, only the top 6 to 12 inches of soil needs to be prepared. You should choose an area to drain excess water away from the blueberries. The area should be free from grass and weeds.

Place half a bushel of composted material, such as peat moss, leaves or bark on top. Mix the mulch and top 8 inches of soil together in a 2- to 3-foot diameter for each plant.

Blueberry plants are well-adapted to full sun or full shade, but with more sun you will have higher fruit yields. It is recommended to prune the plants prior to planting. It is typical to prune a third to a half of the plant when planting. This can be accomplished by cutting back, cutting out or a combination of both. After your plant is planted, it is best to prune just at the end of harvest season, around the end of July.

You should plant your blueberries approximately 3 to 6 feet apart. The closer you plant them, the higher density of a hedge you will have. People enjoy blueberry plants not only for their fruit but also for their aesthetic appeal.

Water your plants regularly and keep the roots moist. Only use fertilizer with small amounts of nitrogen, such as ones formulated for use on azaleas and rhododendrons.

Whether you order blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries or figs, you will enjoy the sweet yields for many years to come. When you receive your orders, you will also receive a brochure for further information on caring for your plants.

Cost for plants is $8 each, or $7 if five or more of the same variety are ordered. All fig trees are in 3-gallon containers and sell for $15 each.

To order plants, please call the Cooperative Extension office at 704-216-8970 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The deadline to place your order is March 2.

Not only will these plants beautify your landscape, your purchase helps support the 4-H program and the youth who are striving to make the best better.

Sara Drake is an extension agent in 4-H youth development. Contact her at Sara_drake@ncsu.edu or 704-216-8970.

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