LTN Staff Reports
The Lincoln County Cooperative Extension’s annual plant sale is under way, offering a variety of muscadine and blueberry plants for the picking.
“Muscadines are the best type of grape for our area,” said County Extension Director Kevin Starr.
“The vines will be 2 years old in 1-gallon containers and will be several feet tall.”
Three varieties — “Ison,” “Late Fry” and “Nesbit” — are available. All are self-fertile, thereby producing fruit without another pollinator.
“Muscadines should be planted in a good garden soil located in full sun,” Starr added. “While their pests are minimal, they do require pruning and trellising.”
Four blueberry varieties, which Starr said are “among the very best for our area,” are being offered. These include “Climax,” “Powderblue,” “Premier” and “Tifblue.” Most average about 16 inches in height and will also be sold in 1-gallon containers.
Although some varieties are self-fertile, the Cooperative Extension still recommends buying more than one variety to ensure pollination and supply some diversity. The approximate fruit-bearing age is three years. Usually, the plants will come with flower buds on them. While it’s hard to do, said Starr, it’s best to remove these bloom buds the first season to encourage the plant to put its energy into growth.
“Basically, growing blueberries is like growing azaleas, another member of the Heath family, except blueberries need full sun,” Starr noted.
“They need a well-drained, acidic soil high in organic matter. They also benefit from an organic mulch, such as pine bark. While they don’t like wet soil, they will suffer if the soil dries out.”
“(Blueberries) are a highly nutritious fruit and have very few pest problems,” he added. “Some varieties, like ‘Tifblue,’ make good ornamentals and fit very nicely into the ‘edible landscape’ concept.”
All the plants are $7 each. The deadline for ordering is Feb. 28. The plants will be available sometime in March at the Citizens Center in downtown Lincolnton. Purchasers will be notified in advance of the precise date and time of pickup.
While the Cooperative Extension does its best to obtain quality plants from a reputable source, Starr said, it is unable to provide a guarantee on their performance.
To obtain an order form or for additional information, call the Cooperative Extension at (704) 736-8452 or email Starr at Kevin_Starr@ncsu.edu.