A couple of years ago, I did a post about adding fruit to the kitchen garden where I planted dwarf apple trees. Those trees are growing (albeit slowly) and I will soon begin the process of training them on the trellises. I probably should have bought more mature specimens because I know my patience isn’t the most well developed aspect of my character (for me, often and sadly instant gratification takes too long), but such is the case that I planted tiny sticks which in two and a half years have grown into small saplings…I should see my first fruit (hopefully) in another year or so.
So when the time came to add more fruit to the garden I chose something that would provide results slightly faster J. I chose to plant berry bushes! Specifically I chose three varieties of raspberry and a blackberry bush. The varieties blend different kinds of berries as well as differing harvest times so I have berries longer throughout the season. The early varieties are the Fall Gold and the Jewel (varietal). The latter producing varieties are the standard red raspberry and the blackberry.
Raspberries will grow and produce on many different types of soil but will be most productive on sandy loam soils well supplied with organic matter and plant nutrients. The soil should be well drained and have a pH between 5.8 and 6.5. Plant raspberry bushes on ridges or in raised beds if drainage is a problem. The native soil in my backyard, as most of you know, is all clay so I used some bricks I purchased last year for another project that I decided not to pursue to create two beds…I will write about one when I decide what is to be planted in the bed. The other, I placed at the back of my garage where it should get a good amount of sun throughout the day and this is where I chose to plant my berries.
Raspberries should be planted in an open site that receives at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight. Avoid planting raspberries within 300 feet of any wild blackberry or wild raspberry plants and in areas where tomatoes, potatoes, or eggplants have been grown previously. Early spring planting is preferred over fall planting. Plant as soon as the soil can be properly prepared. The plants can be established either in hedgerows or using the hill system depending on the types of raspberries.
I created my favorite soil blend with a twist by using organic potting soil, compost, peat moss and for the berries since they like sandy soil, I added a couple of bags of sand to the mix. This was blended and homogenized and placed over a layer of paper bag that I placed in the bottom of the bed since there were other plants in that bed that spread by roots and I want to ensure that they die off.
Once the bed was filled to the 6 inch level, I created a hole for the berry bush. I drove the spade down through the paper to ensure that the roots had the ability to spread while the paper was decomposing and planted the berry bushes 24 inches apart. Once planted the bushes are watered in well and I will water them often throughout the first months of their life here in my garden until they get established. Then mother nature will take care of the watering rather than me.
Once the canes get a bit larger, I will add structure to keep the spread of these bushes manageable and the canes productive.
I am so excited to be adding more fruit options to the garden. For less than $100 I will have fruit supplies for years to come!