5 Great Berry Bushes For Your Edible Backyard Landscape
If you're an eco-friendly, organic sort (or just love the idea of growing your own food), you might be just the type to plant some berry bushes in your yard. Why pay a fortune for a pint of organic berries at the whole foods store, when you can grow your own? They're a perfect addition to an "edible landscape," and, unlike with garden vegetables, you don't have to plant them over and over again each year. These long-lived crops will grow to maturity and give you berries for years, maybe even decades, to come. It's a bit like earning passive income in the financial world. Plant this summer and enjoy the harvest, with minimal upkeep required, for years to come.
Now that you're sold, lets take a look at some common and not-so-common (but lots of fun!) berry bushes you can plant:
Everybody loves blueberries, and they're good for you too. There are dozens of varieties, and they range in height from a foot tall to over six feet tall at maturity, so you can find the perfect size for your yard. They can also be grown in pots, so they're a great choice if you live in a townhome or an apartment with just a bit of patio space for gardening. Blueberries do particularly well in the Pacific Northwest and other climates where acidic soil is the norm (if you live elsewhere, you can amend your soil to make your blueberries happy, especially if you grow them in containers).
2. Wolfberry (AKA Goji Berry)
Blueberries are very common, and you can buy them in the spring at any nursery, so let's talk about something less common now. If you frequent health food stores, you've probably seen dried goji berries (and numerous products using goji berries) on the shelves lately. Though they're relatively new to the US, they've been around in the East for a long time, and they're superfoods! They have a lot of antioxidants and other healthful benefits, so growing some at home makes a lot of sense. Wolfberries grow on a vine, though kind of a bushy vine rather than the kind you need to trellis up the side of a building or arbor. Your local nursery probably won't carry them, but you can order wolfberry vines online from places such as Raintree in Washington State.
Another somewhat unusual berry bush (though folks have been making elderberry wine for ages), elderberry bushes come in a number of edible varieties. The Blue Elderberry, with its powder blue berries, is particularly striking. One of the perks of this bush is that it's easy to grow and produces a ton of berries, so you really get your money's worth! You can eat the berries fresh when they're ripe (they are higher in Vitamin C content than oranges), or turn them into pies, jellies, teas, or the afore mentioned wine. Elderberries are also known to have medicinal value.
4.raspberries and Blackberries
Okay, enough of the exotic stuff, right? Let's talk about those yummy raspberries and blackberries. Both grow on canes (some are freestanding while others should be trellised) and you can find them in a variety of species. If you've been poked by thorns a number of times, you might particularly appreciate the thornless varieties. Since raspberries and blackberries can spread quite a bit (their root systems can extend several feet under ground, causing canes to pop up in unexpected places), you will want to take some care to place your berries. You might also consider keeping them confined to large containers or raised beds with weed-block material at the bottom.
If you've ever traveled in Scandinavia (or gone to the local Norwegian pancake breakfast), you've probably had lingonberries. These cranberry-like berries are used in sauces, jellies, and for cooking. They don't take up a lot of space either, as most species grow from 8" to 16" tall. They do like to spread, though, so they can make a great edible ground cover choice.
There you have it: five berries that are easy to grow in many climates. Plant some this year and enjoy the fruits for years to come!
The author maintains a number of blogs, including Off the Urban Grid, which discusses all sorts of ways to grow food on one's lot and live a healthy "green" lifestyle. She also writes fantasy short stories about characters who could tell you plenty about growing berries, if they weren't so busy having adventures all the time!
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