Don’t you just love berries? I love all berries. Where I grew up we had raspberries, salmonberries, blueberries, currants, cranberries, and watermelon berries growing wild. Every summer we could fill buckets full of berries. I would love to grow them myself. And now I’m trying to do just that.
I made a small narrow garden bed for growing berries. It is about 18 inches wide by 15 ft long. One end is for raspberries, the middle for blueberries, and the other end for blackberries.
Last year I planted store bought blueberry and raspberry bushes (two blueberry and one raspberry). None of them fruited. The plants are still there and growing. So, they’re not dead. But just in case they’re duds, I planted another blueberry and raspberry bush a couple days ago. I’m really, really hoping they produce fruit this year.
Last summer my kids and I spent several hours picking blackberries from a public park nearby. I threw a couple of the largest blackberries in the berry patch as soon as we got home from berry picking. I’m hoping they germinate and I’ll see some blackberry plants growing soon. I’m also really, really hoping the neighbor’s chickens didn’t dig them up or eat them when I wasn’t looking.
I planted seeds for two types of strawberries- a yellow and a red. I’ve never tasted a yellow strawberry and when I saw the seeds I had to get them to try them out. I didn’t put them in the berry patch. I sowed them in some of the cubderbkicj <–don’tcha just love it when your fingers get on the wrong keys– that should read “cinderblock” holes of the garden bed. And I may plant more in a separate container depending on how well the ones already planted do. Maybe if they grow well and start putting out a lot of runners I could stick the runners in pots and propagate them that way.
I’ve been reading a lot about blueberries. This article, Blueberries by Organic Life, is a good starting article about growing and choosing blueberries for your zone.
The highlights of all the reading on growing blueberries are:
- they need acid soil. Oops…I never tested the soil in my berry patch. Since reading this I’ve started putting my coffee grounds directly in the soil around the blueberry bushes instead of adding them to my compost to make the soil more acidic. I really should just test the soil to see if I need to really do this.
- they need a lot of water, but not too much that they’re in standing water.
- they need full sun.
- the type of blueberries for my zone are rabbiteye, highbush, and southern highbush. Both are large bushes (at least 6 ft high) and need 5 ft between bushes. Oops, again! I have mine about two feet apart.
- they need pruning in the winter to remove old non-fruit bearing branches.
- they need another variety present for good pollination.
Highlights from my reading are:
- they need acidic soil. Again..oops, but lucky me I’m making the bed acidic for the blueberries. I’ll just put some grounds around the raspberries, too.
- they need moist, well drained soil.
- they need full sun.
- there are two types: ever-bearing ripen in summer and fall and summer-bearing only ripen in summer.
- summer-bearing produce on two year old stalks only, ever-bearing produce on one and two year stalks.
- they need pruning every fall. Prune old two year stalks on summer-bearing varieties. Prune everything back to the ground if you want a fall bumper crop with ever-bearing varieties, otherwise prune old canes like summer-bearing to get summer and fall crop.
- they are self-fertile.
Highlights for growing blackberries:
- they pretty much are like growing raspberries, but like warmer weather.
- they don’t like the soil as acidic as raspberries and blueberries.
I also found out you don’t want to grow wild blackberries close to raspberries due to diseases. Eeks! Maybe I should just go out and buy blackberry plants instead of trying to grow from wild berries we picked. I’ll think about that while waiting to see if any of the berries I planted germinated.
- Strawberries like slightly acidic soil.
- Alpine varieties produce small, flavorful berries throughout the summer.
- June-bearing ripen the earliest.
- Ever-bearing ripen summer to fall.
Strawberries like to spread by runners, so good thing I’m keeping them in a tall raised bed.
Wish I could get my hands on some watermelon berries to grow, too, but I don’t think they’d like the heat here.
I hope this info and the links help you to start growing berries, too!