Back Yard Eden’s – Plant a Berry Patch
Growing your own orchard or just having a few fruit tree in the backyard offers one of the most satisfying forms of gardening. So what about adding a little berry patch or a small vineyard to the mix? Imagine summer months filled with blue stained fingers from picking your own berries, fresh fruity summer desserts & warm berry muffins. The ways to enjoy summer berries is endless. You might even want to consider taking up the art of wine making. An amazingly simple processes that can lead to total madness resulting in making wines out of everything except the kitchen sink.
Much like growing fruit trees. You’ll need to do a little planning before you start planting. Berry patches and vineyards need to be sited in as much sun as possible.
- At least 6 hours of direct sun in the summer.
- Avoid wet soggy soils for best growth.
- Make sure you have the correct pollinator if necessary, and that it’s planted close enough to do its job.
- Choose a variety that will do well in our climate. Listed below are some guide lines for each fruit and some good choices for varieties.
—THE BERRY PATCH—
BLUEBERRIES- Grown much like an Azaleas and Camellias. They like an acidic soil. Plant them with peat-moss and fertilize with an Azalea Camellia fertilizer. You’ll need at least two different varieties for pollination and plants need to be 4 to 6 ft. apart Rows 10 to 12 ft apart. Great tasting varieties that do well in our area are: Climax, Premier, Bluebell, Tifblue, Bluegem, Brightwell, Titan, Vernon and Powderblue.
BLACKBERRIES-There is both hedging and trailing varieties available. Hedging are more trouble free to grow requiring little pruning or training and no trellis building. Be sure to add plenty of manure when planting blackberries.
Set your plants 3 – 4 ft. apart in the rows, Rows 10 – 12 ft. apart. Some of the best selections for our area come from the University of Arkansas. All are heavy bearers with fruit up to 1 inch across. Good choices: Kiowa, Chickasaw, Choctaw. Hate thorns? Try the thorn less varieties like Ouchita and Osage for a totally och-less experience.
STRAWBERRY-So easy to grow add a few to your vegetable or flower garden. Grow some in pots or hanging baskets. Sweet Charlie and Camerosa all do well here. Sweet Charlie is hard to find but has the best taste by far.
The vineyard is comprised of fruits that need trellising like grapes and kiwi. You’ll need to construct a trellis to grow these fruits on. A simple one wire horizontal trellis is the most simple. But keep in mind that over head trellis and pergola’s offer a welcome shady site to wile the hot afternoons away under.
GRAPES- Although we cannot grow the popular grapes like Concord and Thompson Seedless due to Pierce’s Disease. We do have a couple of bunch grapes that will grow in our area. Try Blanc Du Bois and Black Spanish. Now the range of Muscadines is endless. Muscadines are known for their thick skins and spicy wild grape flavor. Many varieties are huge over an inch in diameter. Small samplings of great varieties are: FEMALE (Needing a self pollinating variety to set fruit.) Fry, Jumbo, Higgins. SELF FERTILE (Can be planted alone or use to pollinate Female varieties.) Nesbit, Alachua, Noble, Carlos. You’ll find that growing grapes in our region is a rewarding experience.
KIWI- Yes you can grow kiwi’s in our area. Kiwi or Chinese Goose berries now come in a wide assortment of colors and flavors. Most all require cross pollination, meaning most varieties are male and female. FUZZY KIWI (Arguta deliciosa) is the most commonly found group in the fruit markets. Darleen is a female variety that will fruit in our area. Use the Barbas Male to pollinate it. SMOOTH SKIN KIWI (Arquta chinensis) are about ½ the size of Fuzzy Kiwi. They’re eaten skin and all. Are much sweeter and come in green and red fleshed varieties. Best varieties for our area: FEMALES- Ken’s Red, Anna. Use a deliciosa Male to pollinate. Lone Star and Issai are two self fertile smooth kiwi’s. All kiwi’s are vigorous set your plants 15 to 20 ft. apart. Pruning them is similar to pruning muscadine grapes.
Small growers by nature, the berry group are perfect for mixing into your landscape. Grapes and kiwi can be used to cover an old fence or block an unsightly view on a trellis. Blueberry and blackberries make excellent hedges. Tasty, adaptable and easy to grow berries make the berries make a wonderful addition to the garden, so when you are thinking about what fruits to add to your orchard or landscape, be sure to leave a little space of the berries.