Not so long ago, the sunberry, or blueberry forte, began to be grown in the garden plots. So far, few know about it, but there are already supporters and opponents of this culture. For the first, the berry is healthy and tasty, for the second it is a weed. It is quite possible that such an opinion was formed due to the purchase of fruits from careless sellers who replaced real berries for a low-quality product. In this regard, it is worth knowing what a sunberry is and how to grow a crop on your own.
Features of growing sunberry berries
The plant has a powerful, spreading bush, reaching a height of 1.5 m. Its stem is thick, faceted. Due to the similarity of the fruits, the sunberry is called garden blueberry. The culture is resistant to cold, can tolerate slight frosts. The inflorescences of the plant are small, similar to pepper flowers. The size of the fruit is comparable to that of a cherry, there are up to 15 pieces in a brush.
The berries are grown using seeds. Adult plants can be obtained as a result of self-seeding, but their germination is low, and the growing season is long, so the best option is to grow sunberry from seeds through seedlings.
How to grow a sunberry from seeds
Sunberry, or garden nightshade, as it is also called, does not have a variety of varieties; to obtain seeds, it is better to contact a specialized store or to friends who already have a novelty on their site and can share the seeds. Growing a sunberry (garden nightshade) is a simple process. This rather fast growing annual gives a large berry yield at the end of the season. But sowing seeds in open ground is undesirable, since a temperate climate and a long growing season may not allow waiting for the sunberry berries to ripen before the onset of frost. Growing with seedlings is the only sure way to get a guaranteed harvest.
When to sow sunberry seedlings
The timing of sowing Sunberry seedlings depends on the climatic conditions of a particular region. For the Moscow region, the period from mid-February to mid-March can be considered optimal for growing seedlings. It must be remembered that seedlings are planted in open ground after the threat of recurrent frosts has passed. By this time, young plants will develop, get stronger. The seedlings must have at least 6 true leaves.
Preparation of soil and planting tanks
For planting sunberry seeds, you need to prepare containers. In this capacity, you can use boxes, containers, plastic cassettes. Regardless of the choice, they must have drainage holes. If there are none or their size is small, then during cultivation, excess moisture will accumulate, which will lead to decay of the roots. The optimum hole size is 3 mm. Through them, not only the outflow of excess moisture is carried out, but oxygen also penetrates into the soil to the roots. It is worth installing a pallet with expanded clay under the containers so that water does not flood the windowsill.
Containers, which have been used many times for growing seedlings, are capable of accumulating pathogenic microflora. Wooden containers should be treated with fungicidal preparations, plastic ones should be rinsed with hot water or a weak solution of potassium permanganate. Sunberry tolerates picking well, so which containers are used - general or separate - does not matter.
Sunberry is not demanding on the composition of the soil, but you should not use peat for growing seedlings, since the culture does not tolerate acidic soil. Sowing sunberry seeds is carried out in a light substrate, with a neutral environment. For these purposes, you can use a universal soil mixture for seedlings. Drainage is laid at the bottom of the prepared container and soil is poured.
Sunberry seeds have poor germination, therefore, before growing berries, it is necessary to prepare for sowing:
- Disinfect in a pink solution of potassium permanganate for 20 minutes. to protect against fungal infections.
- Scarify Sunberry seeds - put in a jar of sand and shake several times to break the tight shell and facilitate germination.
- Place on damp gauze until swelling, keeping an eye on the humidity.
The seeds are ready for sowing in 5 days.
Planting sunberry seedlings
When growing a sunberry from seeds at home in a seedling way, you must follow certain instructions:
- Prepare boxes with a drainage expanded clay layer and a nutrient substrate poured on it.
- Sow sunberry seeds 4 cm apart and 5 mm deep.
- Cover with glass or plastic wrap to create an optimal microclimate for growing seedlings.
- Transfer containers to a warm place with a temperature of 25 ⁰С and diffused light until the seeds germinate.
- It is periodically necessary to moisten the soil to prevent it from drying out.
After the emergence of sunberry berries, the shelter should be removed from the boxes and containers. Seedlings are unpretentious in growing, not requiring special care. Twice a day it must be sprayed with warm water. As the seedlings grow, they switch to watering at the root. At the same time, the soil must not be allowed to dry out. During short daylight hours, plants need additional lighting as they are very sensitive to lack of light. From time to time it is worth turning the pots of sunberry seedlings so that they do not overtake and form one-sided. Seedlings can be fed with special fertilizers for seedlings. As soon as the third sheet is formed, a pick is carried out, if necessary. For further planting and cultivation of sunberry, or blueberry forte, seedlings in the open field must be hardened. To this end, within two weeks they are taken out to the balcony, veranda, gradually extending the time they spend in the fresh air.
How to plant a sunberry outdoors
After germination, seedlings develop rather quickly and in a month reach a height of 30 cm. After the threat of frost has passed, they can be transferred for further cultivation in open ground. Even if the foliage has turned yellow a little, after planting, the sunberry seedling will quickly gain strength and develop. Plants should be placed in pre-prepared wells, adding the necessary soil substrate and fertilizer there.
Planting dates depend on the climatic conditions of the growing region. After the soil warms up to 12 - 15 ⁰C and the threat of return frosts has passed, it is time to plant the garden nightshade bushes. Cultivation of a sunberry in the Moscow region in the open field begins from the end of May to the beginning of June. You can plant in a greenhouse a couple of weeks earlier. In the presence of temporary shelters, with the help of which it is possible to protect plants from short-term drops in temperature, the seedlings can be assigned to a permanent place 10 days earlier.
Landing site preparation
To obtain a bountiful harvest of berries, it is necessary to choose the right area for growing Sunberry. The plant prefers well-lit, open, sun-warmed places. The area must be protected from drafts and strong winds. It is recommended to grow sunberry, or garden nightshade, after cucumbers, zucchini. If the predecessors were peppers, potatoes or tomatoes, such a site must be discarded. Otherwise, the plants will feel bad, bloom poorly, dry out. The site must be dug to the depth of the shovel bayonet, to make ridges. The soil should be loose, light.
How to plant a black nightshade sunberry
The growing area is made even, after which holes are prepared on it. Their size should correspond to the volume of the Sunberry root system, taking into account the earthen ball. After planting, the berries grow, so the holes are made at a distance of 1 m and 80 cm between the rows. With their closer arrangement, the bushes will thicken and interfere with each other. Gardeners recommend placing sand or fine gravel on the bottom to perform the function of drainage, and also add humus. Immediately before planting, the seedlings of sunberry berries are watered abundantly so that you can painlessly remove it from the container and place it in the hole. The root system is covered with soil, tamped a little. Young plants are once again watered and mulched with rotted manure.
Sunberry is not capricious. Culture care is not difficult. After planting, regular moistening, loosening of the soil, and hilling are necessary. Mulching the soil helps to retain moisture and protect the plant from weeds. Three times during the whole season, the bushes are fed with mineral fertilizers or mullein infusion. In early summer, the sunberry begins to bloom and continues until the very frost. Grasshopping to bushes is not required. It is believed that growing a garden nightshade is no more difficult than a potato.
Watering and feeding
Sunberry is a drought-resistant berry that does not need abundant watering. But it is necessary to ensure that the soil does not dry out. Irrigation is carried out early in the morning, at 6 o'clock, or in the evening, at 20 o'clock. For irrigation, use warm (about 22 ⁰С), settled water. You should be guided by the top layer of the soil: as soon as it has dried, moisture is needed.
Gardeners believe that the sunberry does not need special feeding. It can give a rich berry harvest on ordinary soil. To guarantee the result of cultivation, it is worthwhile to carry out three-fold feeding in the form of mullein infusion, the introduction of complex mineral fertilizers, garden herbal infusions.
Weeding and loosening
If the soil is dense and heavy, the sunberry bush does not develop well. The soil should be loose. For this purpose, at least once every two weeks, weeding is carried out and the aisles are loosened. At first, after planting, they do it to a depth of 10 cm. Later, in order not to damage the roots, up to 8 cm. They try to loosen the heavy soil deeper, but only in places where the root system has not penetrated. Mulching helps to retain moisture and the optimal temperature for growing.
After the growth of the bushes, loosening is carried out simultaneously with hilling. Thanks to it, additional roots are formed, which contribute to the development of the sunberry and accelerate the ripening of berries. Hilling can be replaced by adding humus.
Protection against diseases and pests
The chemical composition of the sunberry contains silver. The element serves as a shield against diseases and infections. The plant is not very susceptible to the main diseases of the nightshade, but under unfavorable climatic conditions, cultivation is complicated by infection with infections.
The leaf plates and branches of the sunberry are covered with brown cracks, ulcers. Even berries are attacked with yellow spots, opening the entrance of infection to the seeds. The reason is unfavorable climatic conditions and bacteria. There are no means to combat the disease, the affected bushes are urgently removed and destroyed.
The main signs of the disease are the appearance of dirty white spots on the leaves, fruits, branches. The cause of the pathology is excessive humidity in the environment at high temperatures.
It manifests itself in a change in the color of the lower leaves of the sunberry bush from green to olive and even dark brown. Bordeaux liquid is used to combat spotting.
The disease affects unripe berries. Their tops turn brown, the fruits fall prematurely. One of the reasons may be non-observance of the moisture regime, drying out of the soil.
Sometimes planting and growing Sunberry berries is overshadowed by the attack of a spider mite, cruciferous flea beetle, Colorado potato beetle, aphids, gnats. Gardeners do not recommend the use of insecticides, suggesting the use of folk remedies in the fight against pests - infusion of onions, celandine, garlic, hot pepper, soap.
Blooming and formation of blueberries forte lasts the entire growing season, until the very frost. The formation of the sunberry bush is not required, with the exception of the periods of berry setting and autumn. At this time, the buds still appear, but the upcoming frosts require stopping the vegetation of the plant so that all its forces are directed to the ripening of an already formed crop. Experts advise plucking out stepchildren and removing all the buds to speed up ripening.
Early frosts are not particularly scary for sunberry bushes, but you can cover them with non-woven material to guarantee.
In order for the sunberry berries to be as large as possible, part of the inflorescences is pinched during the period of active flowering. During cultivation, the plants do not require a garter, but the massive ripening of the berries makes the branches heavy, as a result of which they can sink to the ground. So that the crop does not die, it is worth making spear props for shoots weighted with large berries.
When to harvest Sunberry
By the end of September, the sunberry harvest is ripe. When ripe, the berries become soft, deep black in color. They are not prone to shedding. In order for the berries to ripen, you can hang the bushes in a ventilated area. After a week, the fruits will be ripe.
To improve the taste, you can leave the berries on the bush overnight when the temperature drops below freezing. Their ripening is also possible after cultivation: it is required to be placed on paper in a cool dry place.
The taste of fresh berries is very specific. Before processing Sunberry, they are advised to pour boiling water over them. After this procedure, the quality improves slightly, the nightshade aftertaste disappears. Most of all, the berry is intended for processing - the preparation of preserves, jams, marmalade. To retain useful properties, heat treatment should be minimal. Only in this case, the dessert serves as a remedy for hypertension, migraine, osteochondrosis, asthma, epilepsy.
The juice obtained from the fruits of the garden nightshade is a natural antiseptic that helps with angina. Sunberry leaves and branches have healing properties. However, as with any nightshade plant, they must be used with great care.
How to prepare sunberry seeds
Sunberries reproduce easily by self-seeding, but this method of growing is not very good because seedlings appear very late.
The seeds can be bought from a specialty store for a proven, clean variety.
It is possible to obtain seeds for the next year on their own. To this end, it is necessary to take ripe berries, grind them, dilute them with water and pass the resulting gruel through a sieve or cheesecloth. After that, rinse the seeds and dry well. Seed material for growing Sunberry berries is ready next year.
Despite the benefits and properties of the plant, they have not yet begun to grow the sunberry on a massive scale in Europe and Russia. She is a rare visitor to the garden plots, although interest in the blueberry forte is growing.
With all the beneficial properties of the berry, one should be careful about its use and use in the treatment of pathologies, not forgetting to consult a doctor.
If you do not like the taste of the berries, then there is another reason for growing sunberry - the decoration of the site, since during the fruiting period they are very decorative.