Blueberry hedges, marionberry 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, wet corner of the yard. Assess your site so you know what varieties will thrive where.
Light and Soil
Knowing what different berries need to succeed 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.
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. Local nurseries are bursting with varieties that thrive in our temperate climate. Get them in the ground now so that they will produce a large juicy crop this summer and fall.
Berry Extravaganza at Molbak’s on March 2, 12-1p.m.! Join Lisa Taylor, author of “Your Farm in the City” and Seattle Tilth’s children’s education program manager for a lively class about berries. Learn which varieties are best for your yard and ways to prepare them in tasty recipes that your family will love! It will be berry fun!