Gardening takes a lot of thought and planning. Sometime after Christmas I start to peruse gardening catalogs and plan my spring and summer garden. During the heat of the summer I begin to think about what I need to order for my fall plantings. While many local garden centers and nurseries carry some of what I need (want), some varieties must be ordered from catalogs or online.
So here I sit in front of the fan, in 100 degree heat on the side porch, surrounded by catalogs from Burpee’s, Johnny’s, Park’s and others, happily munching on fresh picked blueberries purchased from my local farmer’s market, trying to decide which types of small fruits I want to plant this fall.
Unlike most vegetables that have to be planted each year, most fruits once planted continue to produce for years. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and grapes can all be planted in the fall and most will start producing fruit the following year.
Soil preparation and location are important things to consider when planting small fruits. Most fruits like full sun and with the exception of blueberries most fruits like neutral soil.
Blueberries need acid with a ph around 4.8. Before planting blueberry plants it is advisable to take a soil test using a ph kit from the garden center or local extension office. Amend the soil as needed before investing in and planting this Native American shrub.Blueberries need cross pollination so be sure to plant two different varieties for the best yield.
When planting raspberries and blackberries thought must be given as to the location. Both berries grow on canes or brambles and both will spread out if left to their own will. Raspberries and blackberries are not very attractive in the garden so best planted on the edge or away from anything else.
That said I still believe everyone should have either a patch of blackberries, raspberries or both growing somewhere near by. While the taste of cultivated blackberries can’t hold a candle to the sweetness of wild berries, I will settle for the tart cultivated varieties rather then do without. However, whenever I am up in Amish country and come across a little stand with a barefoot boy selling blackberries, I stop in hopes they are wild.
Concord grapes are another must have and we are lucky enough to have an ancient grape arbor that bees seem to love as much as we do when the grapes are in season. Burpee’s offers both the old fashion variety of Concord grapes and an improved seedless Concord variety called Mars seedless. Check it out at www.burpee.com.
There is something soul satisfying when one can walk out the back door and return carrying a handful of just picked blueberries, raspberries or blackberries to sprinkle over the morning’s bowl of cereal. Now where did I see those yellow raspberries?