Growing Small Fruits
Posted by Sunset Garden Experts on
GROWING SMALL FRUITS
Most high bush blueberries will grow upwards of 4 feet in height as mature plants and will yield large berries in late summer. Choose a well-drained, loamy or sandy soil with a pH of 4.5-5.2. You can reduce your soil pH by mixing in sphagnum peat moss or by mixing in compost made from pine needles, oak leaves and/or bark. You can also add aluminum sulphate in future years to further increase the acidity of the soil. Work plenty of nutrient-rich compost into the top few inches of soil. Space plants about 4 feet apart. Blueberries require two different varieties for cross pollination. (this is what causes berries to actually form) Rows should be 7 feet apart. You should use a special fertilizer for acid loving plants. Water frequently and mulch heavily around plants. Growth is slow and production will peak at 6-8 years of age. Yearly pruning of mature plants will encourage larger fruit and heavier production.
Choose a sunny site in your garden with good air circulation and water drainage and a pH of 6.0-7.0. Dig a hole large enough so as not to bend roots. Plants should be set out at least 2 feet apart in rows 5-6 feet apart. Keep roots moist until planting. Plant as soon as the soil has warmed. Work plenty of organic matter into the soil and mulch to keep out weeds. Trim canes to encourage new growth.
Trellising is beneficial for cane support. Raspberries produce fruit on second year canes (floricanes). In the fall of the 2nd year, prune spent canes at ground level and thin others to approximately 4 canes per foot of row. Cut off suckers which grow outside of rows. Trim remaining raspberry canes to 4-5 feet.
Plant your strawberry roots as soon as your soil has warmed. If you must keep them for a short period, keep the roots slightly moist and cool. Choose a sunny location in your garden with a soil pH of 6-6.5 and set plants out on a cloudy day or in the evening to avoid the stress of heat on the young plants. While preparing the beds, soak roots with water. Till in compost and dig a shallow trench for each row with rows 4’ apart. With your hands, form a small dome of soil every 12” apart in the row. Trim your strawberry roots to 5” long to encourage healthier, new root development. Drape roots over soil dome, with the crown centered at the peak. Add soil, tamp down and water. Crown of plant (brown paper like part at the base of stems) should be at the soil surface. If the crown is buried the plant will most likely either rot or not produce berries as well. At Sunset Nursery our strawberries come bundled in pots. When removed from the pot each individual plant will need to be separated by wiggling them apart. Each individual plant has its own crown.
Keep the bed weed free. Pinch off all flowers the first summer to send more energy to the development of runners (daughter plants). The exception is with everbearing types (varieties which produce small amounts of berries all season rather than all at once in June) , where the blossoms should NOT be pinched off during the first summer. Use a mulch in the late fall and place directly over the plants to protect from freeze and thaw cycles. Remove mulch after last frost in spring and place into paths between rows. (the mulch keeps weeds down while also keeping berries from touching the soil and spoiling more quickly) During the second year, after strawberries have produced their crop of berries in June, the plants should be mowed down and fertilized to encourage new runner production.
Even a well looked after stand of strawberries begins to wear out after 2-3 years of production, so to ensure continued harvest, plant a new crop during the 2nd year of production. After the third year of fruit production the strawberries should be tilled under. Strawberries should not be grown in the same place for 2-3 years to prevent build-up of diseases.
Choose a sunny site in your garden with good air circulation, water drainage, and a pH of 6.0-7.0. Keep roots moist until planting. Work plenty of organic matter into the soil and mulch to keep out weeds. Plant as soon as the soil has warmed. Dig a hole large enough so as not to bend roots. Trim canes to encourage new growth.
Plants should be set out at least 2 feet apart in rows 7 feet apart. Trellising is beneficial for cane support. These summer-bearing berries produce fruit on second year canes (floricanes).
In the fall of the 2nd year, prune spent canes to ground level and thin others to approximately 4 canes per foot of row. Cut off suckers which grow outside of rows. Trim remaining blackberry canes to 7 feet. Protect blackberries by bending the canes over in the late fall and covering with soil or other means to hold them down. A covering of straw or brush helps trap snow. (snow coverage helps insulate and protect plants for the winter)
CURRANTS & GOOSEBERRIES
Choose a sunny location that has good air movement to reduce disease problems. Currants can be long lived so be sure to prepare the soil well before planting. Add compost or aged manure to the hole before planting. Plant the canes slightly deeper than they were growing previously (look for soil mark on stem). Plants should be spaced 3 feet apart in rows 6 feet apart. Prune back to 2 buds to encourage vigorous growth. It is important to have 2-4 inches of mulch around the plants as they like cool, moist soil. Straw, bark, or grass clippings all work well. Plants should be pruned in late winter or early spring when the plant is dormant.
Black currants will bear fruit on 1 year old wood, so each year, older canes should be removed. About 12 canes per plant is an ideal number to maintain.
Gooseberries bear fruit primarily on 2 and 3 year old wood, so equal numbers of 1, 2 and 3 year old shoots should be maintained to ensure a constant renewal of fruiting wood.
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