Yellow raspberries, lingonberries, and gooseberries are delicious delicacies that are often difficult to find in stores. The reason some of these lesser known jewels of the fruit garden are not readily available is that they are fragile when they are at their flavor peak, not because they are difficult to grow. As interest in unusual fruit spreads, aficionados are discovering that growing these and other fruit in their backyard garden is a very rewarding and enjoyable undertaking. Cultivating small fruit is ideal for the busy gardener. Berries and vine fruit grown in the home garden are:
- low maintenance
- easy to fit into minimal space
- attractive additions to the landscape
Imagine returning home from a long day and wanting nothing more than to unwind with a cool drink and a light snack..What could be more delicious than discovering perfectly ripe bunches of sweet grapes or sun-kissed strawberries awaiting you? Pluck, savor, enjoy! Such are the rewards from your home fruit garden.
Most small fruit plants and vines will grow successfully with a modest dose of annual attention — an application of fertilizer or compost, mulch for weed control, and regular pruning to aid in disease prevention and encourage large fruit size. Properly matching the type of fruit to be grown with the soil and climate conditions of the garden is one of the keys to a bountiful future. Insects are generally not a severe problem on backyard berries and seldom require the time and effort that is needed for pest control in the vegetable garden.
Most berries lend themselves to container growing. Window or deck railing boxes of day neutral strawberries and herbs offer convenient treats to quickly liven up a meal. Blueberries, currants, and gooseberries in a whiskey barrel planter easily dress up a patio. While raspberry canes can double as a living fence.
Alpine strawberries make attractive borders or short edging in more formal settings. Lingonberries can be grown as ground covers under rhododendrons and azaleas. Grape or kiwifruit vines will gracefully drape an arbor; providing respite from a hot summer sun. Shrubs such as currants, gooseberries, or blueberries present wonderful shows of yellow or red foliage in the fall. So, dig in! It’s time to experience and enjoy the pleasures of a fruitful garden!
©2013. Adapted from the Backyard Berry Book: A hands-on guide to growing berries, brambles, and vine fruit in the home garden by Stella Otto.