Berry Patch

Champaign, IL(Zone 5b)

I'd like to eventually have strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries. However, I don't have much room where I plant my regular garden, and it isn't in an enclosed area and I don't want animals eating all my berries. So, I was thinking about planting some in the back yard that is fenced in. There's not a lot of room, and I have kids...so I don't want anything thorny. Are there any good, compact plants with no thorns that would be best? Also, how closely can you plant all these things together?

Kristie

Glen Ellyn, IL(Zone 5b)

You've just described blueberries.

Rome, GA(Zone 7b)

What's the soil like? Do you know how acidic it is? Blueberries like really acid soil. All of those kinds of berries are going to want a lot of sun so it'll have to be a sunny spot. Blackberries and Raspberries come in Thornless varieties these days so all of them would work for that.

Strawberries are a close-to the ground plant the spreads via runners. I plant them about 1' apart. You can even grow them in containers if you want.

Blueberries are a bush. The kind I grow down here, rabbiteyes get relatively large 5-6' or more tall and I plant them 8' apart. The kind you would probably plant are northern highbush and I'm not as familiar with them but I believe they are somewhat smaller.

Blackberries and Raspberries are a Bramble, they spread underground via roots and then send up canes. Usually they send up a cane 1 year and then the cane fruits the second year. A lot of the varieties need some kind of support like a fence or trellis. I planted them about 4' apart on a fence evenutally hoping to fill in the area between them with new canes.

If you've got a fence you could also try grape vines on them.

All of these berries take a year or two to establish before you get fruit so you have to be patient.

Pretty much all of them take annual maintenance in terms of pruning.

If you want to start with the easiest I'd suggest strawberries.

Jeff

Champaign, IL(Zone 5b)

Thanks Jeff! So, would I have to worry about any of these taking over the back yard? Can I plant them in the fall or do they have to be planted in the spring? I have one of those turtle sandboxes for the kids that we don't use that I had considered drilling holes in and making into a strawberry planter. We have been intended to replace our fence and extend it, so I suppose if I wanted to plant any of these along the fence I'd have to wait. But, I could put blueberries in a container, right? That would help because I don't think my soil is very acidic(I have a pink hydrangea growing right now). If I did grow blueberries or strawberries in a container, would I have to do anything special to winterize them? Any types of berries you recommend? I know I've heard of everbearing strawberries, do they have everbearing rasp/blue/blackberries? Thought you'd answered all my questions, huh ;)

Kristie

Glen Ellyn, IL(Zone 5b)

Raspberries and blackberries will try to take over your yard.

So will strawberries, but you should be safe in a planter. Blueberries are nice, well-behaved bushes. Grapes would be very happy on your fence, but they do need to be pruned every year.

Yes, there are everbearing raspberries. "Encore" is one variety.

Yes, you'd need to protect the blueberries and strawberries. Even in the ground they should be mulched in the winter.

Champaign, IL(Zone 5b)

Thanks LTilton..can raspberries and blackberries be put in a planter?

Kristie

Glen Ellyn, IL(Zone 5b)

I've never heard of raspberries in a planter, maybe someone else has.

Rome, GA(Zone 7b)

I guess if the planter were big enough you could grow brambles, but they really like to spread so they probably wouldn't be very happy in a standard container. You could always do a raised bed like in this thread: http://davesgarden.com/forums/t/703611/
Doesn't have to be real large and would contain them.

I don't have any experience growing blueberries in containers but I know a lot of the catalogues carry a variety meant to be grown in a conatiner on your patio.

The old wading pool sounds like a good idea for strawberries. They've always been pretty easy for me to grow (unless the deer eat them). The biggest pains are keeping them weeded (mulching them is a good idea) and watered since they don't put roots down very far.

Strawberries spread via runners so you can watch where the runners come out and root them in a small pot and move them somewhere else if you want.

Jeff

Mooresville, NC(Zone 7b)

Hey Jeff....

"Strawberries spread via runners so you can watch where the runners come out and root them in a small pot and move them somewhere else if you want."

I've wanted to do this myself but I've read that you are not supposed to cut the runner from the mother plant. After the runner is established in the soil and has set it's roots, is it then ok to "cut the umbilical cord"?

Hope you're doing well!
Ping

Rome, GA(Zone 7b)

Hey Pinger,

Yep, exactly right. The daughter feeds from the mother using the runner so you shouldn't cut it until it has roots of it's own. Keep in mind that while the mother is feeding the daughter it won't be producing Berries as well because it's sending energy to the daughter plant. So if you're not looking to propagate them, it's better to just cut the daughter off and throw it out.

Jeff

Sydney, Australia

I don't know what your temps are there ...but have you thought of passionfruit along the fence?....safe and quick growing...pretty flowers.Grapes would be my next choice if it is too cool for passionfruit.Blueberries can go into pots so can strawberries.All safe with children running around.

Farmington, UT(Zone 6b)

I have thornless blackberries that are delicious (sorry, I'm not sure of the cultivar, since they were given to me, but I know you can find them!), but like others said, blackberries don't exactly meet your parameters in the compact department. When the canes grow, they droop down, which takes a lot of space. ButI read the other day that a way to save space with raspberries (and I assume this will work with blackberries too) is to put 5 foot poles up, and then plant your berries on either side of the pole. Instead of letting them droop, tie them with nylons to your poles, and they'll grow vertically, leaving you with lots more room. The bonus of this method is it also keeps your kids away from lots of the berries! I know that if mine drooped my kids would eat them off the vine before I ever got a shot at them.

Champaign, IL(Zone 5b)

Thanks for all the advice! I suppose if nothing else, I could put the brambles outside of the fence by my veggie garden somewhere.....if they take everything over out there I won't really care.....

Passionfruit? I have never had passionfruit, is it good? I have no idea if it would grow here or not. Don't grapes take awhile to establish? My dad has a grape vine he planted about 3 years ago...and still no grapes. It could be his doesn't get enough sun though.

Kristie

Sydney, Australia

Well you know I had heard that most Americans don't know about passionfruit ...but in venturing out to the other forums I found lots of passionfruit lovers in fact to the point of being true passionfruit fans...Kristie they are sold in your Supermarkets I am told...and I grow most of mine from the seeds out of the fruit.It is perhaps my favourite fruit....it gives you beautiful green leaves and every pretty flowers ...and the fruit is wonderful.

oooiiiiihhhhh any passion fruit chompers out there please pop in and tell Kristie what passionfruit taste like.Yes they would sometimes take a year or two to fruit up if the climate is not warm
the grapes might too but once they get going you will have them
every year in the hundreds.The taste to me is tart but sweet and tangy and tropical....just the best. If you are interested I will go into it with you.I think grapes are a good idea too.

Rome, GA(Zone 7b)

I've never eaten passion fruit but I planted 8 of them I grew from seed this year. They're along a fence and a couple of them have gotten up to the top of the fence already (5'). I'm not sure if they'll survive in my climate since they're usually listed as tropical. Things I have read say they'll live down into the high 20's (farenheit) We usually get a couple days colder than that so I'll mulch the bases real good.

Jeff

Sydney, Australia

Jeff are they the edible ones?....if you have never eaten passionfruit before you are in for a real treat....even if you have just the ornamentals you will be happy because they are very pretty and some smell just lovely...what kind are they do you know?

Rome, GA(Zone 7b)

Yes, they're the edible type. This is the name from the place I bought the seed from if it tells you what type they are: Passion Fruits (Chanh Dy) - Passionflora edulis


Jeff

Sydney, Australia

Great just sing out when you want some recipes ....they are good just to scoop out of the shell and ambrosia over ice cream! so get excited!

Champaign, IL(Zone 5b)

Hmmmm.....I'm assuming I'd kill passionfruit here....We definately get below 20 degrees here...that figures...but maybe I'll have to go to the supermarket and at least buy some to try! I'm not sure about the grapes....do they grow rampant? Will they take everything over?

Kristie

Glen Ellyn, IL(Zone 5b)

Grapes have to be pruned to produce fruit properly.

They are vines, strong growers, but they don't throw runners or spread from the root like, say, raspberries. A grapevine needs room to spread out - at least 6 ft - and a fence or trellis to spread out on, and it needs full sun.

I don't grow them anymore because I frankly prefer the grapes I can't grow in my zone, north of you, to the ones I was growing.

Vicksburg, MS(Zone 8a)

kls,
I have 6 Navaho thornless blackberries growing along the edge of my garden. Hubby put T-posts in the ground spaced about 4 feet apart and we strung wire (2 strands) on them. It's true, the canes developed this year will produce berries the next. When mine are finished, I prune the spent canes off leaving the new ones. I go ahead and tie the new ones to the wire so they don't droop to the ground. Keeps the berries cleaner and makes picking easier. They do reproduce by runners under the ground. I just dig mine up and share with friends or throw in the compost heap. The berries are as big as a man's thumb and much sweeter than wild ones. I think the maintenance is well worth it as the berries are really good.

Champaign, IL(Zone 5b)

LTilton, how do you prune grapes?

NatureLover, Thanks for the name of your berries! They sound like they're really good...where'd you order them from? How much space does six bushes/brambles take up? And, more importantly, how much do they produce?

Kristie

Glen Ellyn, IL(Zone 5b)

kls, that's a complicated question. There are several different ways of pruning grapes, depending on how you want to train them, on a fence or trellis, and also the type of grape. The first few years you concentrate more on training the vine. I would suggest you get a book on the subject.

The main thing is, the grapes grow from buds on one-year wood, last year's green shoots. The wood any older than that is pruned away, except where it is structural, like the trunk. Then you cut back the one-year wood to a limited number of buds. Those will be the green shoots that bear the year's grapes.

Pruning is done in late winter, while the vine is dormant. [though some people do it to make Xmas wreaths] It doesn't take very long if you just have a couple of vines, and that's it for the year. After it's pruned, the vine looks pitiful, but it will grow and grow over the summer. But if you don't do it, the vine gets overgrown with old, non-productive wood, a big messy tangle.



Vicksburg, MS(Zone 8a)

kls,
My row is about 10 feet long and I allowed about two feet on either side of the fence to allow room for picking. This was my 2nd year for the vines to produce and they put out enough for me to make 12 pints of jam, 8 pints of ice cream topping, freeze a big bowl for my son's birthday cobbler, eat lots of them fresh, and share some with my grown kids. Next year they should produce even more. I bought them at Lowe's. And, yes, they are VERY good berries--I highly recommend them.

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