How to Get the Most Out of Growing Berries in Your Garden?
My grandparents had a grape orchard, and I can remember going out and filling up buckets of plump juicy grapes. It was one of the highlights of my summer. In my garden, I have grown blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries and enjoy them a lot. My wife and I used blackberries to make jam, and the black berries that you grow yourself, taste a lot better than the ones that you can find at the grocery store.
The great part about growing berries is that it isn’t a lot of work, and you also don’t have to wait for five years before you start seeing the fruits of your labor. Lots of berries bear fruit within the first year or two. The most common type of perennial berries include raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, and grapes.
The best part about berries is that you can grow them even if you don’t have a lot of space. Whatever berries you give from your own plants will be much fresher and probably more flavorful than anything you’re going to be able to buy in the store. Last year, our neighbor brought us over some of his grapes. It amazed me how delicious they were. If you have grown your own grapes, you have probably experienced this too.
If you want your berries to do really well, make sure that you apply fertilizer regularly, and try to keep weeds away from your plant. In addition, you want to make sure to water them regularly. Most buried plant still have a very deep root system. Make sure to water them regularly and to apply compost to get a better yield.
How to Do Berry Maintenance
(This information below comes from personal experience, and from using the Better Homes & Gardens owner’s manual For Yard and Garden Care. Published by BHG books as a reference.)
Strawberries - even though this can be difficult to do, the best way to grow strawberries is to put all of your strawberries about 12 inches apart in a raised bed. Adding compost to the bed before planting also helps increase your yield. During the first year of growth, make sure to prune off all runners and young fruits before they become ripe. This will enable you to have a larger plant and a bigger harvest the second year. After two years, it may be a good idea to add more compost to your bed so that you can produce more berries.
Grapes - most of the time you’re going to want to prune your grapes late in the winter. You should have removed all but two or two before of the main branches (or canes) make sure that your grapes have a trellis, wire lines, or a fencing, to help them grow the next year. Since grapes are light, they do better when they can grow along a trellis or a long a fence.
Blueberries - blueberry bushes never really grow very fast, during the late winter, (January or February) you can remove some of the poorest performing branches. The interesting thing about blueberries is that they need you to have acidic soil. Usually, you want to keep the pH of the soil around five. Adding a bit of sulfur will help to lower the pH, also you want to make sure to have good mulch to feed your plant.
Blackberries and Raspberries - they can get out of hand very easily. Make sure to prune them back every year to keep them from taking over your garden. Most of the time these will bear their fruit in the late summer or early fall. Make sure that they are well watered throughout the year, especially when they are bearing fruit. This will increase your yield. You can also use trellises, or wires to help support blackberry and raspberry plants.
Berries can be very expensive to buy in the store. Even when they are in season, they are often four or five dollars per pound. My wife and I know that maintaining a berry patch around our house that produces 25 to 30 pounds of blackberries or raspberries, can save you more than $150 every year compared to buying them in a store. In my opinion, it is one of the best returns on investment you can get when you are growing your own fruits and vegetables.