My Three Favorite Berries

Just about anyone who has bitten into a juicy, sweet strawberry has wondered how to grow a strawberry patch. The idea of having a steady supply of berries from a bed of strawberry plants is tempting and, fortunately, growing strawberries is easy and fun.

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Heart-shaped and as juicy as a good love story, a bright-red strawberry is a natural symbol of love. Strawberries used to be the darling of spring’s transition into summer, with local varieties only available for the month of June. But now, with farm-fresh produce available year-round, you can enjoy this fruit anytime your strawberry-shaped heart desires.

Strawberries are actually members of the rose family and grew wild for centuries in the Americas and Europe. The cultivated berries we see today are the result of crossbreeding.

There are several theories on the derivation of their name. One has it that early English children threaded berries onto straws and sold them in the marketplace “by the straw.” Another claims the name represents the spreading nature of the plant runners which are strewn, or “strawed,” over the ground.

There are three major types of strawberries, though if you counted, you’d find over six hundred varieties! Different shapes, sizes, colors and growing habits differentiate these wonderful treats.

Strawberries are very versatile, and can be planted in a variety of ways. Many people will plant strawberries in containers. Hanging Strawberry Plants are a favorite, and let you grow strawberries on the balcony or a patio. For this its common to plant them as annuals so you don’t have to overwinter the container.

The most common way of growing strawberries is in a bed. Since they are most often grown as perennials, you want a location for the bed that is out of the way, as it will be mulched and scraggly looking for part of the year. You may want to plant a raised garden planter  as this will help control the week population, since in perennial beds you can’t just go in and till it up once a year.


The three types of strawberry plants are Day Neutral, Ever Bearing and June Bearing.

 

Day Neutral

Day Neutral strawberries produce fruit during the growing season. They will also produce runners. Day Neutral are easy to grow in a small space. However, the strawberries are usually small as well, though sweet and delicious.

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Ever Bearing

Ever Bearing strawberries produce at least two and often three crops of berries during the spring, summer and fall. Ever Bearing strawberry plants do not send out many runners and are also a good choice if space is limited.

June Bearing

June Bearing strawberries produce only one large crop a year. They bear fruit only for two or three weeks in the month of June, hence the name. These are the traditional strawberry plants that have been grown by our ancestors. They produce fruit and many runners. They are classified in categories of early, seasonal and late varieties. Strawberries of June Bearers are usually large and sweet with lots of juice.

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Lets talk about planting those Strawberries…….

Space your strawberry plants 12-18 inches apart in the row.  Rows should be spaced 304 feet apart.  Set plants in the row with the roots straight down.  Be sure that planter shoes on your transplanting equipment or hand tools penetrate deeply enough to facilitate proper planting.

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Care should be taken that plants are set with the middle of the crown level with the top of the soil. Within a week or so, the soil will settle and the soil line should be even with the bottom of the crown..(see illustration).  Avoid covering crowns with the soil while you hoe, week, and cultivate throughout the season.


Let me share some Strawberry Trivia with you……………

strawberries2Americans eat 3.4 pounds of fresh strawberries each year plus another 1.8 pounds frozen per capita. Although strawberries are available in many forms—frozen, jam and jelly, and ice cream— nothing compares to the taste of a fresh vine ripened strawberry.

California produces 75 percent of the nation’s strawberry crops. According to the California Strawberry Advisory Board, California strawberries are available January through November, with peak quality and supply from March to May.

If all the strawberries produced in California in one year were laid berry to berry, they would go around the world 15 times.

On average, there are 200 seeds in a strawberry.

Lebanon, Oregon’s annual strawberry festival is home to the world’s largest strawberry shortcake.

Eight strawberries will provide 140 percent of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C for kids.

One cup of strawberries is only 55 calories.

Strawberries are always served at the Wimbledon Tennis Tournament. It’s a long standing tradition.

The number one tip in how to grow strawberries is that they need sun. Make sure that the spot you choose for your strawberry plants get plenty of full sun. Many strawberries produce their blossoms in the early spring. Making sure that they are in very sunny spot will help keep late frosts from killing off those blossoms.

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Plus, the more sun strawberry plants get, the bigger and better the strawberries they produce will be.

What about……Drainage?
Another good tip for how to grow strawberries is to make sure where you plant them has good drainage. If your yard is clay-heavy or does not have good drainage, you will want to consider either creating a mound of your strawberry plants to grow on or building a raised bed for your strawberries.

What about……………..Compost?
Compost is another key to how to grow a strawberry patch that produces big, sweet berries. Make sure that the soil has been fully amended with good compost and composted manure.

And how much………….Space do you need?
Strawberry plants like to spread out. If you give the strawberry plant runners room, they will spread and create more strawberry plants for next year.

If you want your strawberry plants to yield lots of large, juicy berries, they will need two inches of water each week. Extra water should be given from the flowering to the fruit bearing stage.

For further information on strawberry care:

National Gardening Association – Care and Harvest of Strawberries

University of California – Strawberry Pest Management Guide

 

Do you find yourself constantly looking for the last hand tool you used when working in the flowerbeds? Are you forever walking back and forth to get the right tool, or to toss the weeds you just dug up in a lawn bag?

If so, you need a Garden Caddy……This item is a great find! It certainly comes in handy for most routine gardening chores. I definitely recommend it!!!

 

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Some History of Raspberries…………

If you want to know how to grow raspberries, you should first know that raspberries ripen shortly after strawberries do. They prefer a sandy loam soil that is rich in organic matter.

When thinking about how to grow raspberries, you should know that growing raspberry bushes prefer sunshine, so they should be planted in an area that gets six to eight hours of sunshine a day.

When do you plant raspberries? You can plant them in the early spring. Although raspberries are an exquisite fruit bursting with flavor, in ancient times no one seemed to care about that.

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Legend has it that the Greeks discovered raspberries in the 1st century BC, when they noticed them growing on the slopes of Mount Ida in Turkey (which in part explains their scientific name, Rubus Idaeus).

But people didn’t grow and eat raspberries back then like they do today.

Instead, the roots and blossoms of wild raspberry plants were used to make eye ointments, astringents, and teas for stomach and throat problems.

By the 4th century, the Roman began cultivating raspberries and were likely responsible for spreading the trend throughout Europe.  Twelve centuries later  Europeans could be found growing raspberry plants in their home gardens.

While raspberries still had medicinal purposes, people had begun to use them as food too.  Raspberries made their way to America by the late 1700’s and commercial production of this tasty fruit was soon on the rise.  The popularity of raspberries only continued to grow.  Today, people can’t seem to get enough of the them.

    • There are more than 200 species of raspberries that grow on five continents. And they’re not just available in red. Raspberries come in shades of gold, purple, black, and white.
    • Because raspberries and blackberries are similar bramble fruits, some people can’t tell a black raspberry from a blackberry. The difference? Raspberries have a hollow center. They’re also smaller and more delicate, plus they usually develop more quickly than blackberries.

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    • Not a true berry, raspberries are considered an aggregate or composite fruit since they are actually a collection of smaller seed fruits called “drupelets.”
    • Raspberries are expensive to buy at the store for several reasons. Their softness and tendency to bruise easily make them highly perishable and hard to ship. They are also difficult to pick.
    • Although raspberries will only last a day or two in the refrigerator, carefully washed, dried, and stored in a heavy plastic bag, they can keep for up to a year in the freezer.

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Growing raspberries in your backyard can be a tasty treat for your family!

Raspberries are naturally inclined to grow in cooler climates, although the development of adaptable varieties has made it possible for gardeners to grow raspberries in many zones. They are relatively easy to grow, and with proper care, can bear fruit indefinitely. Don’t limit yourself to the common red raspberry; try growing purple as well!

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There are two types of raspberries, both with their own specific requirements for growing. Summer-bearers bear one crop per season, in summertime. Ever-bearers bear two crops, one in summer and one in fall.

Amity (Red) (Everbearing): Large, medium red, good quality berry. Stem does not come free until ripe. Softer and nearly thornless. Ripens early July and early September.
Brandywine (Blackcap): Large, conic, firm, round, glossy reddish purple berries with tart, pleasant tangy flavor and highly aromatic. Good for fresh eating, but excellent for jams, jellies and preserves. Tall vigorous canes, very thorny.
Canby (Red): Medium to large. Light red berry. Firm, sweet, and excellent for fresh use or freezing. Vigorous canes. Nearly thornless. Ripens June.

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Caroline (Everbearing): Uniquely flavored, large, firm, & cohesive fruit. Long conical shape berry that fruits early. Plants are very productive & produce fruit over a long period.
Fall Gold (Everbearing): Large, soft golden berries, conical in shape with a very sweet flavor, excellent for fresh eating and processing. Ripens July and late August.
Golden Summit (Everbearing): Large, firm, golden berries. High yields. Known to produce a crop the first season. Fruits early. If mowed off a few inches above the soil level each winter it will only produce a large Fall crop the next season.

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Heritage (Red) (Everbearing): Large. Very firm, excellent quality. Good vigor, hardy canes which do not need staking. Moderate early July crop and heavy production of quality fruit early September.
MeekeramRed): Large, ;thimble-shaped dark red fruit with high sugar content and good quality flavor. Good for eating fresh, freezing, canning and processing. Long harvest season. Ripens mid-season.
Munger (Blackcap): Large, plump yet firm, shiny black berries that are not seedy. Delicious, sweet flavor that is excellent for jam, jellies, and preserves but only satisfactory for freezing. Ripens mid-season.
Willamette
(Red): Large. Dark red, medium acid. Heavy producer. Excellent for shipping. Ripens June.

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Raspberries detest “wet feet.” Soils with standing water cause disease problems and suffocate roots. If drainage is a problem, plant raspberries in raised beds or mound up soil into ridges before planting. Whatever the soil, add organic matter each season.

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Raspberries have a shallow root system and can dry out during droughts. They need adequate water from spring through harvest usually about 1 to 1.5 inches per week.

Do you think you know your raspberries?  Test your knowledge against these quick facts:

  • Raspberries can be either red, purple, gold or black in color.  Golden raspberries are sweeter than the other varieties.
  • The difference between raspberries and blackberries is that raspberries have a hollow core in the middle while blackberries do not.
  • In the United States, about 90% of all raspberries sold come from Washington, California and Oregon.  In Canada, the province of British Colombia produces about 80% of all raspberries sold in Canada.
  • There are over 200 species of raspberries.
  • When picking raspberries, look for berries that are firm and dark in colour.  They should not be soft or mushy.  Gently pull on the berry; if it does not come off easily then leave it on the bush, as the berry is not ripe enough yet.
  • Once raspberries have been picked, they won’t ripen any further.

Myths From Around The World…..    Raspberries are sold and produced throughout the world, which has given rise to myths about why raspberries are red and even one myth about the magical qualities of the fruit.

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One popular myth comes from France, which tells the story about how raspberries use to be only white in color.  The myth states that one day, a nymph named Ida was taking care of an infant Zeus (also referred to as Jupiter).  Zeus was crying and to help soothe him, Ida picked some white raspberries.

  But when she went to pick the raspberries, she scratched herself on a thorn and started to bleed.  Her blood dripped on the white raspberries, instantly turning them red and they have been red ever since.Another myth, which originates from Germany, talks about the magical qualities of raspberries. 

It states that to tame a bewitched horse, one would have to tie a wild raspberry twig around the horse’s body.

Finally, a modern myth tells the story of how raspberries turned a fox’s fur red.  In the Tale of the Raspberry Fox, by Henning Buchhagen, there is a fox named Ferdinand.  At that time, all foxes were grey in color. 

The tale tells how Ferdinand didn’t like to eat meat, so one day he decided to eat some raspberries and discovered that he loved eating them.  He kept eating raspberries and the more he ate, the redder his fur became. 

Ever since then, all foxes have had red fur and like to eat fruit.

Pick raspberry fruits regularly when they feel firm by pulling them gently from the plug like structure that holds them. Enjoy raspberries fresh, dried or frozen!

Another one of my Favorite Berries is Blueberries…………

Blueberries are the oldest known plants living and have been traced back 13,000 years. Long-lived and dependable, blueberries are among the easiest fruits to grow.

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Blueberries are one of the only fruits native to North America, but are found on almost every continent.  North America is the world’s leading blueberry producer, accounting for nearly 90% of world production at the present time. Cultivated blueberries are grown in more than 30 states as well as in British Columbia.

Blueberries are fairly easy to grow as long as you have a good amount of sun and rich soil. Keep them fully hydrated with water and make sure that the soil is moist but not soggy.

It usually takes only several weeks for blueberries to fully ripen and when they’re ready to be picked just gently roll the berries between your thumb and forefinger to pick them off the plant. In no time you’ll have a whole crate of blueberries at your disposal!

One of the biggest nutritional powerhouses that you can eat comes in a very small package. Blueberries are packed with more cancer-fighting, anti-aging, eyesight-saving and disease-fighting antioxidants than foods like spinach and salmon. New plant varieties make growing blueberries even easier than before.

Blueberry Varieties

Berkeley

Large, light blue berry good for sauces, good presentationGiant-Blueberries-Being-eaten
Mid season

Bluejay

Small to medium size, light blue colour, all purpose berry
Early mid season

Blueray

Large, dark blue berry
Mid season

Jersey

Small to medium size, dark blue color, all purpose berry
Late mid season

Patriot

Large, medium blue color
Early mid season

Everyone loves blueberries whether they’re picked and eaten straight from the bush or baked into a favorite dessert, but have you ever wanted to know more about this delicious fruit? Explore some of the lesser-known facets of this classic American food source.

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Over 200 million pounds of blueberries are grown every year in North America.  Michigan and New Jersey produce 66% of all the blueberries in the United States, followed by North Carolina, Oregon and Washington.

Did you know…..that early American colonists made grey paint by boiling blueberries in milk.

The blue paint used to paint woodwork in Shaker houses was made from sage blossoms, indigo and blueberry skins, mixed in milk.

If all the blueberries grown in North America in one year were spread out in a single layer, they would cover a four-lane highway that stretched from New York to Chicago.

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American poet, Robert Frost, loved blueberries so he wrote a poem about them. You guessed it; the poem was called “Blueberries.”

The blueberry is the second most popular berry in the U.S., the strawberry is number one. Over 200 million pounds of blueberries are grown commercially each year.

Blueberries used to be picked by hand until the invention of the blueberry rake by Abijah Tabbutt of Maine in 1822, so it’s no wonder that Maine’s state berry is the blueberry.

Blueberries contain significant quantities of both antibacterial and antiviral compounds, and have a reputation in northern Europe of fighting infections.They may also help protect against heart disease.

The blueberry muffin is the official muffin of Minnesota.

The blueberry is the official berry of Nova Scotia.

The blueberry industry of North America ships over 500 metric tons of fresh berries to Japan each year and over 100 metric tons to Iceland.

The blueberry is the official state fruit of New Jersey

Cultivated blueberry varieties, while slightly different in taste, are just as delicious, and their health benefits and nutrition values make them guilt-free indulgences.

One cup of fresh blueberries has just 70 calories, 0g fat, 0g cholesterol, 0g sodium, 7g fiber and 1g protein. Blueberries have often been recognized as the fruit with the highest antioxidant activity — twice as much as spinach, more than three times as much as oranges, red grapes and cherries, and more than four times as much as grapefruit, white grapes, bananas and apples. Blueberries are also thought to be helpful in improving memory function, reversing the aging process and protecting the body from stress, cancer, weak eyesight and urinary tract infections!

Cultivated blueberry varieties, while slightly different in taste, are just as delicious, and their health benefits and nutrition values make them guilt-free indulgences.

A healthy blueberry plant will fruit for 15 to 20 years before slowing down. Every five days or so, harvest the berries that are deep blue. “I always look for good dark color in the berry, and I think the darker the better.”

For the first three years, you won’t need to prune young plants. After that, cutting the plant back once a year will increase vigor. Every winter, remove canes that are older than six years old and cut back all the other healthy canes by about a third. Remove any canes that have really tremendous amounts of discoloration, and remove all the lower, small, wimpy growth.

The ideal time to fertilize blueberries is in the spring. Use sparingly. Amendments, like compost and fertilizers, that are approved for use on acid-loving plants like camellias and azaleas are also good for using on blueberry plants.

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To keep birds from eating the tasty berries, you can put netting around the entire plant to prevent access.

Plant blueberries as a shrub or as a screen. “You can use them as accent plants or as edible ornamentals.” You can even plant them in containers and use them as patio decoration.

 CLICK ON  THIS  CUTE  BLUEBERRY AND GO LET YOUR KIDS HAVE SOME  BLUEBERRY FUN!

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(The Fruit Company got its start in 1942, when Roy and Olive Webster purchased 600 acres of land, and started growing pear and apple trees. Roy began to sell his apples and pears in bushels, and pretty soon that business grew. Roy’s grandson, Scott, came up with the idea of selling gift baskets, and turned the company into the empire that it is today. Scott still owns The Fruit Company. The Fruit Company has received several awards and recognitions. They have been featured in “O Magazine”, and various consumer magazines. They have also been named one of the top 15 companies in Oregon and were listed in Internet Retailer’s top 50 internet businesses.)

 


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