Growing Berries in Your Back Yard

Learn how to select and grow berries and when to harvest them.


| July/August 1977



046-054-01-blackberries

Grow-it-yourself strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and grapes are better tasting, more healthful (no pesticide residues), and more economical than their store-bought counterparts. Not only that, but berry plants are easy to grow! 


PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

Crisp salad greens, luscious ripe tomatoes, and tender, juice-filled melons are all satisfying in their own way and no garden should be without them. For me, though, the ultimate taste thrill is provided by the berry fruits ... fresh picked strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and grapes in particular. I value these crops so highly that I make special forays into the back country each summer to go after the wild ones ... even though I grow large quantities of the same delightful delicacies in my own garden!

Below, I'd like to share with you a few thoughts and suggestions on backyard berry production, in the hope that I can convince you to begin growing strawberries and grapes and bramble fruits yourself.

Strawberries: the Most Productive Berry of Them All 

Strawberries — because they produce a large amount of fruit in a relatively small area — are among the most productive (and most rewarding) of all berry fruits. If you've never grown your own, now's the time to start.

You can plant strawberries in spring, summer, or fall. Fall is probably the best time of all, since plants put in the ground then will develop strong root systems during the cool autumn months and break out into vigorous, bushy growth the following spring. The trouble with spring planting is that you have to disbud the young plants as flowers form and pinch back runners to ensure vigorous growth (and worthwhile yields of fruit) the following season. (This procedure isn't necessary in the case of fall-planted strawberries.)

When choosing strawberry varieties from a catalog or at a garden store, don't be fooled into buying so-called "everbearing" varieties ... stick with the June-bearing types every time. Breeders have spent a lot of time and effort trying to improve everbearing strawberries, but the sad fact is that there still isn't an everbearer on the market that'll give worthwhile yields. (Standard varieties crop all in one two-or three-week period, but — even so — they out-bear the everbearers easily.)

In order to enjoy a longer cropping season, it's a good idea to plant at least two varieties (one early, one late) of this delicious fruit. Your agricultural extension service (check the county listing in the White Pages) can provide you with a list of recommended varieties for your locality. In my experience — and I've grown and inspected many different crops — the following varieties can nearly always be counted on:

stacey
5/6/2016 7:09:03 PM

I am new at the gardening. Trying to figure out how to get started? I want to plant all types of berries and grapes. Just not sure how to go about it. Thanks






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