Whanganui Chronicle

Berry dynamic

Choosing which berries to grow in your garden is the fun part, says Gareth Carter.


FEW CAN RESIST a bowl of fresh home-grown raspberrie­s. One of the delights of summer is eating berries fresh, making berry smoothies or using them in muffins and desserts and of course, they can be frozen and then used throughout the year.

Raspberrie­s, blackberri­es and boysenberr­ies are all delicious fruits that are very easy to grow yet are very expensive little morsels to buy from the store.

Today we will explore how to successful­ly grow these berries, known as cane fruit, at your house.

First up is find a sunny location but they will tolerate light shade in the afternoons. Berry plants are generally tolerant of quite windy spots but do not like salt wind. They are hardy to the cold, growing to temperatur­es of -10C. The ideal soil is freedraini­ng loamy and compost-enriched soil. If your soil is heavier (such as clay) or on the lighter side (such as sandy) then additions to the soil such as Ican Premium Compost, Ican Planting Mix or Tui Compost is recommende­d. If the area is wet then creating a raised bed is advisable. The soil when planting should be prepared with Tui Sheep Pellets, Yates Dynamic Lifter or similar organic matter mixed into it to enrich the structure and fertility. They perform better where the roots are kept cool with mulching such as with pea straw.

If you have enough room then creating a couple of areas allows you to grow a good range of berries. An area with a structure such as a trellis, old wire gate or a northfacin­g fence is the ideal spot to grow and train climbing and rambling types such as thornless blackberri­es, boysenberr­y types and loganberri­es, which all need something to grow on.

Raspberrie­s can be grown in rows without the support needed.

Once establishe­d, berry plants benefit from being fertilised in September as the plants come into leaf and then again in late December-january. Combined with regular watering and mulching during dry periods will ensure a healthy plant and great crops year after year.

Plant selection is the fun part, deciding which varieties to plant thinking about the berries you want to eat.

Raspberry varieties include:

Aspiring: is a favourite as it fruits twice. First in the summer period over December and January followed later in the autumn months with a second crop. This double fruiting trait makes ‘Aspiring’ a very popular choice for growing in the home garden.

Mini Me: A recently released raspberry variety — ‘Mini Me’ makes this even easier for the home garden. It is a true dwarf that grows with a nice round compact habit. The pluses of this variety keep on going; while the plant may be small the fruit is full sized and delicious! And it is self-fertile and thornless, how good is that! The compact habit of ‘Raspberry Mini Me’ makes it ideal for container growing — and perfect for the patio or the smaller garden.

Waiau: has very large-to-medium sweet red berries that are easily removed when ripe which is approximat­ely January. It is a strong and productive plant, which spreads fast and is one of the easiest of all to grow.

Heritage: is known for exceptiona­lly good-quality fruit of delicious, large red berries with a harvest season that can extend from February until frosts.

Kaituna: is a high-yielding variety with large, firm red berries with good flavour that are good for eating fresh from the garden, also freezing, jam etc. Fruits approximat­ely late December to early January.

Above, berries can be grown at home.

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Below, if you have enough room, creating a couple of areas enables you to grow a good range of berries.

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