By Lisa Taylor, Children’s Education Program Manager
Plant some berries this year for juicy treats fresh from the garden. Growing your own smoothies or juice is fun and the rewards are delicious! Save money and time driving to the grocery store or farmer’s market. Eat more fresh berries than you ever thought possible. Blueberries, raspberries and grapes are easy to grow and have many landscape and culinary uses.
Blueberry hedges, Marion berry fences and grapevine arbors are edible landscaping at its most decadent. Berries are great additions to your landscape, providing unexpected beauty. Raspberry foliage is a beautiful addition to bouquets while blueberries and grapes provide brilliant splashes of fall color. Blueberries and raspberries are super foods, filled with antioxidants and high in vitamin C. Great choices abound for small urban spaces and most berries can be grown in large containers.
Right Berry, Right Place
Deciding which berry to grow can be overwhelming — options are endless. Make sure you have the right conditions for berries to thrive. No good can come from putting something that loves well-drained soil and full sun in a shady, dank corner of the yard. Assess your site so you know what you’re working with.
Grapes Love Sun
Knowing what different berries need to thrive is crucial. Blueberries like very acid soil. If you don’t know acid from alkaline in your yard, look for spots around the rhododendrons and azaleas to include a few blueberries. Grapes love heat and fertile, well-drained soil. Grow these on a trellis along a south-facing wall or fence. Raspberries need soil with lots of organic matter and good drainage but will tolerate light shade. Upright cane growers, raspberries will need some staking and trellising.
Extend the Harvest
Select varieties that will produce fruit throughout the growing season. “Caroline” and “Heritage” are ever-bearing raspberry varieties that produce a large crop of big berries in the fall and a second flush of smaller fruit the following spring. Plant a blueberry hedge containing early “Earliblue,” mid-season “Jersey” and late “Bluecrop” varieties so you’ll have an endless supply of super food for pies, jams and smoothies. Plant grapes that can be made into delicious juice such as “Concord,” and homemade raisins like “Golden Muscat.”
Building healthy soil, planting the right plant in the right place and encouraging biodiversity can go a long way to keeping your berry crop pest and disease free. Provide consistent water and use mulch to retain moisture in the soil and to protect roots. Prune and trellis to improve air circulation. Keep fruit harvested and clean up fallen fruit and leaves. Set traps for the dastardly Spotted Wing Drosophila fruit fly. Call the Garden Hotline (206) 633-0224 for tips on controlling pests.
Now is the time to plant your berry crop! Get them in the ground in spring so that they will produce a large juicy crop this summer and fall.
Pick up the best varieties for your yard when you join us at our March Edible Plant Sale on Saturday, March 16 from 9 a.m-3 p.m. at Pacific Market Center. Shop for favorites like strawberries, blueberries and raspberries and mix things up with currants, aronia and goji berries. See the full list of berries and fruiting trees & shrubs. Find out more about how you can get started with your spring gardening, buy a ticket to shop the Early Bird Sale, or sign-up to volunteer and get into the pre-sale for free. Let us know you’re coming via our Facebook event and invite your friends.
See you on March 16!
Originally published on molbaks.com.