Jessica Damiano Jessica Damiano, Newsday columnist

Jessica Damiano is a master gardener and journalist with more than 25 years experience in radio, television, print and online media. She has worked on Newsday's interactive endeavors since 1994, and currently is Deputy Editor overseeing Newsday.com's Lifestyle and Entertainment coverage. Jessica enjoys toiling in her garden -- a never-finished work in progress -- and helping local gardeners solve their horticultural problems in her Garden Detective column, which appears every Sunday in Newsday. The Garden Detective blog was awarded a 2008 Press Club of Long Island Society of Professional Journalists Online Features Reporting Award. Jessica lives in Glen Head, NY, with her husband John, daughters Justine and Julia, dogs Maddie and Miguel, and a whole bunch of perennials, vegetable plants and weeds. Show More

Planting: Fall or spring, in a spot sheltered from strong wind. Lowbush blueberries, reputably the tastiest, are low-growing spreading plants; highbush blueberries are upright and can be grown as hedges that reach 6 feet tall. Half-high varieties are hybrids that grow 3 to 4 feet. All require full sun and plenty of air circulation, so be careful not to crowd plants. Blueberries require a lot of water.

pH range: 4.0-5.2 (Plant away from house foundations, walkways and walls, which may leach lime into the soil, raising the pH to unacceptable levels.)

Years until fruit bearing: 3 to 6

Pollination: Most are self-pollinating, but planting two or three different varieties will result in bigger berries and a larger crop.

Pruning: None for the first 5 years. Thereafter, remove old growth and thin as needed in late winter or early spring to allow air to circulate and sunlight to reach the center of the plant.

Fertilizing: Do not apply nitrogen the first year. Treat each plant with 4 ounces of ammonium sulfate in early spring of the second year. Apply a general fertilizer labeled for acid-loving plants annually, immediately after flowering.

Harvest period: July-September

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Storage: Blueberries freeze well and remain fresh in the refrigerator for about a week.

Recommended varieties: Earliblue, Duke, Patriot, Bluecrop, Blueray, Northcountry, Northblue, Bluegold, Darrow, Elliott, Nelson