Blueberry: Vaccinium myrtillus
Blueberries help protect the body from damage caused by stress,aging and toxins. This is because their colour is due to a class of chemicals called anthocyanins, which are antioxidants. Antioxidants are, essentially, chemicals which go around calming down another class of chemical which causes damage in the body.
What they do
Blueberries help with vein health- in particular, capillaries.
They’re great for people who might have a tendency to varicose veins or broken capillaries, or redness.
They’re anti-inflammatory, and they protect against some of the effects of aging.
A use that comes via their anti-inflammatory effect: a recent study found that Blueberries ( 40g or ⅓ cup daily), reduced the symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee.
They may also help with cholesterol and blood pressure.
But overall, they’re generally protective; there’s not really any other short way to explain what they do.
How to use them
Just eat them! Freezing and drying works when a lot come ripe at once. A lot of people have them with cereal; on porridge, in a salad, dried with nuts...in a smoothie...the list is endless, really!
Essentially, they are a forest plant, so they do best with dappled shade, and plenty of humus from the trees they grow under.
Step one, make sure you buy a variety that is right for your climate, as some varieties need high chilling, whereas others are made for a temperate, even sub-tropical climate. Research first! Also, ask for a self pollinating variety, unless you want to do further research into what varieties you need to grow together to ensure a good, well pollinated crop.
It can be best to grow in pots, because they like an acidic soil - generally, we are trying to get a more balanced pH in our gardens. Peat can be added, as they also like a well-drained soil, and some degree of shade. Plant them in spring, and soak them well with a seaweed based plant tonic to get them started. This first year should be about getting them established and growing well, rather than expecting a big crop. Next summer will be the pay-off!
Eating them in season and then moving on to another plant can be the healthiest way for our bodies to absorb what they need.
Three plants, netted, should give you 2 months worth of daily berries in season, all loaded with fresh, vibrant ingredients.
Netted is incredibly important. Birds love the berries as much as we do!