Author: Stella Otto
Size: 6 x 9. Trade paperback
Black & white line illustrations
Trouble shooting guide
Pub Date: April 1, 1995
Published by: OttoGraphics (Distributed by: Chelsea Green Publishing)
Excerpt from the Backyard Berry Book
From Chapter 1. Success with Backyard Berries
… For both the novice and the adventuresome, the fruit garden can yield many delights for the palate. With today’s “nouvelle” cuisine, the enjoyment of small fruit is not limited to the dessert course alone!
The Backyard Berry Book will concentrate on a portion of the fruit garden, namely the small fruit. Just what are the small fruit? Certainly some kiwifruit grow larger than cherries and mulberries are smaller than strawberries. The small fruit we will be talking about will be fruit that do not grow on trees. Also excluded is fruit that primarily grows wild as an uncultivated crop. So, for the sake of definition, small fruit will be those grown as a cultivated, perennial crop, on small plants, canes, bushes, or vines — strawberries, rhubarb, brambles, blueberries, lingonberries, currants, gooseberries, grapes, and kiwifruit.
At the Root of It All
As with many skills, learning the basics first will lead to greater success and satisfaction. Many novice fruit growers, in their haste to enjoy the “fruit of their labor”, overlook the most essential ingredient to a successful fruit garden — preparation. As a horticulturist, I receive many questions from people who have already planted their fruit garden and now don’t understand why an abundant harvest is not forthcoming. In talking with them further, I learn that little thought was given to the plant’s requirements, and in many cases the chosen fruit is mismatched with the conditions in which it is planted.
To avoid the frustration of a meager harvest, The Backyard Berry Book begins, if you will, at the roots. By understanding some basic botany, soil science, and horticulture your chances of enjoying many fruitful harvests will be greatly increased. Should you have any doubts and think these subjects too complex, have faith and read on. First, I think you will find delight in several points to which you will say “Ah-ha!, so that’s it.” Second, knowing and understanding the fundamentals behind small fruit growing will also help you with other gardens you may grow — vegetables, herbs, flowers and more. So, before you buy a single fruit plant, do your homework. Learn the fundamentals. Your effort will be repaid many times over.
From Chapter 3. Plant Selection and Propagation
Selecting Specific Varieties
Once you have decided what type of fruit to grow, you will still need to decide what specific varieties will best meet your needs and garden conditions. When choosing specific varieties, asking yourself the following questions may help you narrow the choices:
1. Is the berry tasty? Some varieties have stronger flavor than others or are sweeter. Some varieties are more consistent in their flavor from year to year than others, as well.
2. How is the fruit’s overall quality? Is it soft or firm? Does it ripen quickly or will it hold on the plant for a day or two if I don’t get it picked right away?
3. How will I use my berries; eat them fresh, freeze them, or make jam or wine? For fresh eating, you will undoubtedly want a sweet juicy berry, while smaller, tarter berries often make better jam. For frozen berries, you will probably want ones that are fairly firm and don’t just turn to mush when thawed.
4. How disease resistant is the variety I am considering? This is especially important if you want to grow your crop under strict organic methods. In some cases, disease or pest resistance is achieved by grafting a desirable variety to a particular rootstock that is resistant to soil borne organisms for which there is no other cure.
5. Is the variety I am considering well suited to my climate and my garden conditions? If you are still not sure what variety will be best for you, try a small planting of several varieties that seem initially suitable. After evaluating them for a few seasons, you can then plant more of the ones you liked best. Another way to get some variety suggestions is by talking to local extension agents, master gardeners, or a neighbor who has had success growing fruit.
From Chapter 6. Pest Control Strategies
Approaches to Pest Control
In the recent past, most gardeners had the impression that pest control in the garden could only be accomplished by spraying some sort of chemical. Fortunately, this is usually not necessary in the backyard small fruit planting. In many cases, pest outbreaks in the well-cared-for small fruit planting are not of major concern and only cause minimal damage to the crop. With increasing awareness of organic gardening and new developments in integrated pest management, alternatives to chemical controls are also becoming more available. Indeed, for the home gardener non-chemical pest controls are often the only feasible option as the number of allowable pesticides has dwindled. Which method you should use is a choice you will have to make.
To begin, one should be aware of the different categories of pest control methods available. Basically, approaches to pest control can be broken down into the following categories:
1. Cultural Practices
2. Chemical Controls
3. Organic Controls
4. Biological Controls
5. Integrated Pest Management Techniques
From Chapter 10. Strawberries
Growth Habits and Varieties
As with so many things today, a strawberry is no longer just a strawberry. The traditional varieties have normally borne fruit in June or early July and are called June bearers. More recently, new varieties have been introduced to extend the fruiting season. The first of these were called “everbearing” because they tended to produce a crop during the normal June harvest period but also produced another, smaller crop in late summer or early fall. The newest group of strawberries introduced are the “day neutral” berries. These strawberries will produce as long as temperatures are moderate. This will typically be from June to October in northern areas and January to August in mild coastal or southern climates. By choosing varieties from several groups, you can now have fresh strawberries continuously throughout the growing season.…