Fresh berries can be costly to purchase from the supermarket and are not always in season. It’s easy to grow your own berries, and store-purchased berries cannot compare to the fresh off-the-vine taste of berries grown at home. Berries taste best when they are sun-ripened in season. Many types of berries are easy to grow in most parts of the country. Blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries are just a few of the favorites grown by gardeners. Learn how to grow your own berries with the help of this berry gardening guide.
Growing your own berries can seem challenging to even seasoned gardeners. Berries require continuous pruning and spraying for disease and insects. It’s best to start with an easy berry to grow – blueberries. These healthy, tasty fruits are simple to grow. Just amend the soil, plant the blueberry bush, mulch, and water. No spraying, pruning, or other maintenance is necessary. Raspberries are also one of the easiest – and most rewarding – berries to grow at home. With the right gardening techniques, raspberries can grow between four and six feet tall. Anyone can learn how to grow berries, even beginners with little or no prior gardening experience.
There are many advantages to growing your own berries. Food that is grown and harvested at home is the freshest you can get. The vitamins, enzymes, and minerals will maintain their presence longer; therefore, eating it sooner can provide you with additional nutrition. Growing your own berries is also safer than buying them in a store. Most commercial berries are sprayed with dangerous toxins, pesticides, and even fungicides. Adverse effects can occur from certain pesticides, such as cancer, brain damage, nerve damage, and hormonal imbalances.
Berries should be planted according to the type of fruit. For example, strawberries are best when planted during the early spring (late March to April). Blueberry harvest in North America can vary, starting as early as May and ending during the late summer. The planting times of berries will depend on weather conditions and locations also. Most types of berries require sunlight to grow, so choosing a large area in a sunny location is ideal for successful berry growth. It may be best to put short fencing around the berry bushes to keep out pets and wild animals.
Many home berries are attacked by insects and are susceptible to disease. Often, these infestations are well established before the gardener even realizes. Sanitation is critical to keep many plant diseases maintained. Diseased berries should be picked from bushes and from the ground. Destroy the infectious berries, especially brown rot or scab-diseased berries, to prevent a spread of disease to other plants. Prune out any other destroyed berries from the plants.
Just as many berry fruits approach their maturity and are ready to be picked, there are many fruit-eating insects that will contaminate the berry product. Some of these common berry-eating insects include earwigs, stink bugs, lygus bugs, grasshoppers, and various species of fruit-eating wasps. Perform frequent examinations of fruits as they ripen, two to three times per week, by shaking the canes to dislodge any insects. If any damaging insects are found, it’s important to eliminate them using a common insecticide application. It’s best to select insecticides that have low toxicity to humans, including those that contain neem oil and spinosad. Some conventional insecticides that will help deter fruit-eating insects include malathion, carbaryl, esfenvalerate, and permethrin.
Being able to go outdoors in your backyard in the summertime and pick your own tasty berries is a great treat. Home-grown berries not only taste great, but are also good for you – providing families with a healthy diet of vitamin C and many antioxidants. Most types of berries are easy to prepare: Simply pick them from the berry bush and run them under cold water to remove any dirt. Berries can be used for many different dishes, ranging from desserts, to yogurts, cereals, breads, smoothies, and even wines. They can also be frozen, to use throughout the year. Learn more about growing different types of berries with the following resources.