What makes landless farming successful is the management of irrigation and its frequency depending on the irrigation system, climate, water type, and environment. Besides, pH, fertilization planning, and the use of discs placed in plant beds against weeds play a key role. Substrates have a high aeration capacity, which favors the development of plant roots. Special pots for blueberries support the proper growth of the plant's roots. Since they are sensitive to moisture, soilless planting creates perfect drainage. The root system of the plant grows faster than the soil in the pot and the meantime allows to get more crops by distributing water and fertilizer evenly.
Unlike many plants, blueberries love soils with high acidity, so it is difficult for many farmers to grow this berry traditionally. However, soilless planting allows to grow the plant at the right level of pH, and this is one of the main factors for the productivity of blueberries. The necessary elements for plant nutrition are determined according to the pH level. Iron and calcium deficiency can occur at high levels and may trigger the yellowing of the leaves and burning of the tips. The most suitable pH for blueberries varies between 4.5-5.2 and should be monitored regularly. To grow blueberries in soil with the normal level of pH (7.0), at least six months before the planting, it is necessary to make the soil nutritious by adding various sulfur and water-mixed acids.
Irrigation of blueberry bushes can be considered hard, as this plant is sensitive to under-irrigation and over-irrigation. In the growing process, nourishing applications should be continuous and irrigation should always be done with acidified water. It needs to be watered and fed as much as necessary to get a healthy crop and keep even moisture in the pot. Thus, water and nutrients must always be available at every hour of the day to meet the needs of the plant. The irrigation system depends on the environmental conditions and the stage of plant growth and is determined accordingly. In hot conditions, it may require watering several times a day. When added water is used to bring the substrate to full-field capacity the plant may face a fading point. In cool winter conditions, the plant can last for several days without requiring watering. The duration and frequency of irrigation can change constantly.
The target EC level also varies at different times of the year and various stages of growth. EC is higher with less irrigation in winter and decreases in summer as irrigation increases. Excessive irrigation can saturate the substrate and reduce oxygen levels. All this adversely affects the growth of the plant. Thus, the plant develops root disease and increases the death risk.
After long-term irrigation or a few short daily irrigations, water must flow from the bottom of the pots where the substrate is located. After irrigation, 15-25% of the total water should flow. If 1000 ml of liquid is poured on the plant and 300 ml of it flows from the bottom of the pot or container, then the flow rate is 30%. The absence of water or the observation of low flow indicates that there is no sufficient irrigation. In this case, the salts can cause root damage and problems in plant growth.
Pine bark, wood bran, forest waste, peat, and other organic substrates are suitable for growing blueberries. These substrates are considered suitable for enrichment with acidity and nutrients, along with increasing soil moisture. Cocopeat is almost the basis of the substrate used for blueberries in the world. Coconut substrate is considered to be a sustainable and favorable environment for the natural growth of plants due to its ability to retain water and transfer nutrients efficiently. However, the coconut substrate is best flushed and buffered before planting. Plants such as tomatoes, strawberries, and peppers grow on 100% coconut substrate and do not need to be pre-flushed. According to research (Scientia Hosticulturae, 2019), it is not suitable to grow blueberries in coconut shells. However, coconut peat or wood bran is one of the most fertile substrates for blueberries due to its chemical reactions and ability to maintain the desired pH level. The coconut substrate used in the berry mixture must be flushed and prepared for the plant.
The best way to flush the substrate is to fill the containers and place them inside the tunnel where plants will be planted. Then, every two hours for 15 minutes during the day, fertilized water should be added at EC 1.5 level and it should flow down from the bottom.
It is a good idea to use ammonium sulfate to prevent potential nitrogen leaching in this process. During fertilization, calcium and magnesium will replace excess potassium, sodium, or chloride in the substrate. This operation should be continued for 3 or 4 days until the EC is 3.0 in the drainage water. Keep 24-48 hours without water before planting. In the absence of fertilizer, the usage of water will help to flush away the excess elements in the substrate.
As the name suggests, low blueberry varieties are generally up to 1.5 meters tall. This type of blueberry bushes needs less pruning. Top Hat is a dwarf, low-growing variety and is grown in private gardens as well as in decorative landscape design.
Northern high-bush blueberries are native to the eastern and northeastern United States. Height varies between 1.5-2.5 meters. These species require regular pruning. The following is a list of high cola varieties:
Southern high-bush blueberry species can reach a height of 1.8-2.5 meters. This type of blueberry allows berry production in temperate winter areas as they require less cold air to bring buds and flowers. Because it blooms in late winter, frost can damage the fruit. For this reason, southern high-bush varieties are grown in areas with very mild winters. Some southern high-bush blueberry varieties are:
The rabbiteye blueberry variety is found in the southeastern United States and ranges in height from 1.8 to 3 meters. These species were created to harvest in areas with long and hot summer. It is considered more sensitive to winter cold. Many of these older varieties have thicker skin and clearer seeds. Recommended varieties include:
The half-bush variety is formed from the northern high and low berry varieties and is temperature tolerant between 1-7 ° C. Half-sized blueberry bushes grow up to 0.9-1.2 meters. Suitable for growing in a container. Among the varieties of half-bush can be found: