Edible Berried Treasure
Berried fruits are very productive and really worth growing. They produce some of the healthiest food we can grow and many can be accommodated in quite small gardens. They are rich in Fibre, Vitamin C and Antioxidant Polyphenols and so are important for a healthy heart, for reducing blood pressure and cholesterol slowing cognitive decline and diabetes.
Some can be grown in tubs but many are better grown in the border or veg patch to achieve maximum crops.
The birds also like the berries that we find tasty so it is vital that you provide some protection. A fruit cage is the ideal solution which allows easy maintenance of the crops and easy picking at harvest. It is also vital to water often during the months when the fruit is forming and ripening so a ground irrigation system like Drip or Seeper Hoses will produce amazing crops of rich berries to eat fresh or freeze for winter use. This initial outlay will pay for itself time and again. For example you should expect at least 0.5 to 1 kg of fruit per raspberry cane per year. I have seen raspberries in the supermarkets costing £1.99 for 20 berries!
So Raspberries are really worth growing. For early and mid season varieties I like Glen Proven and Tulleman and for autumn fruiting Joan J or Autumn Bliss. But wait there’s a new kid on the block, Ruby Beauty is the world’s first compact variety. It is summer fruiting, the canes are short and stout so no need for support wires. It will even grow in a large pot. Useful tip feed with Rose Fertiliser in April. It is high in Potash producing lots of flowers and therefore fruit.
Blueberries are another very prolific fruiting berry a super food which is also expensive to buy. It is recommended that you plant 3 plants together to get good pollination and large yields. Grow in lime free compost and feed with ericaceous feed as they like acidic soil. Put sulphur chips around the base of each plant every couple of years to reduce the soil ph. Blueberries grow very well in containers Chandler and Sunshine Blue are both recommended varieties with masses of large berries that are easy to pick and will freeze very well for winter use.
The flavour of freshly picked ripe Strawberries is to be relished. Probably the favourite berry for children to eat they can be grown in tubs and even hanging baskets. Choose a spot that enjoys 6 to 8 hours sunlight per day. Plant 3 plants in a 14 hanging basket and 5 in a similar size deep pot. Feed with tomato food every week in the growing season and water copiously. I grow Strawberry Pegasus, Elsanta and Hapil for sweet juicy berries of excellent flavour.
Blackberries are much valued for Blackberry and Apple Pie, Jam or to eat fresh with Breakfast Cereals. You need space to grow good varieties like Adrienne and Oregon Thornless which grow vigorously and need a framework to be trained for easy harvesting. Opal however is small enough to grow in a container. All have delicious sweet juicy berries that freeze well.
Tayberries and Loganberries are both hybrids from Blackberries and Raspberries. They produce a lot of long stems so need space to be trained on a wire frame. Loganberries are used mostly for culinary purposes but Tayberries produce long sweet berries of excellent flavour.
Gooseberries are an undervalued soft fruit that is beginning to resurge in popularity because it is so versatile. A variety like Invicta can be used as dessert or for cooking and preserves so well either by freezing or for making jam or chutney. It will grow in poor soil even in part shade. Invicta trains very well as a fan shape on a wall which makes harvesting easy.
Jostaberry is a natural cross between a Gooseberry and a Blackcurrant. This soft fruit looks like a Blackcurrant and has the same refreshing flavour with a hint of gooseberry. It has prolific crops which ripen in July.
Most of the berry fruits are easy to grow and are a great addition to GROW YOUR OWN