Blueberries are one of the most rewarding small fruits you can grow in your garden. They’re flavorful and packed with vitamins C and E, as well as other beneficial antioxidants thought to protect against aging and the damaging effects of free radicals. When in leaf, blueberry foliage also makes a fine contribution to the landscape. Perhaps best of all, picking ripe berries off a plant you’ve grown yourself is a definite path to nirvana.

Early spring and autumn are the best times to plant blueberries since the rain and cool temperatures help establish the plants. The largest plant selection is available in spring. But summer is when the truly serious blueberry grower gets started, sampling as many varieties as possible to decide which ones to plant. Consider it one of the few first steps in gardening that is instantly satisfying.

That said, blueberries aren’t for the impatient. Plan on two to three years before the first fruit appears. Nevertheless, the homemade pies, jam, or ice cream—or a handful of berries plucked straight from the bush—are well worth the wait.