Raspberries and blackberries can be planted from late fall through early spring. These plants tend to spread, so select a location that will naturally limit their growth. Placing them next to fences and buildings is ideal because they can provide trellising. To install plants, dig a wide, shallow hole that can contain all the roots. Trim off any dead or damaged root tissue and spread the roots out, within the hole. Roots should not be planted more than 2 inches deep. Cover with soil and press down firmly to eliminate any air pockets. Water well to settle the soil and hydrate the canes. Cut newly planted canes to a height of only 6 inches. Red raspberry plants are generally spaced 2 to 3 feet apart, while black and purple varieties are spaced 3 to 4 feet apart.
Cane berry plants produce more fruit and stay healthier when they are trellised. Cane tips that reach the ground will start producing roots, rather than flowers and fruit. Only the largest canes should be retained.
All others should be pruned out because smaller canes produce smaller fruit. Also, tip back canes to prevent them from getting longer than 6 to 8 feet. The further a berry is from the crown of the plant, the smaller it will be. Canes should be fanned out for good air circulation and to make it easy for pollinators to reach the flowers. Before removing older canes, check to see when your particular variety produces fruit. Some canes produce fruit on one-year-old canes, while other produce on older canes.
Watering cane fruits
Raspberries and blackberries use a lot of water, but they do not tolerate standing water or soggy soil. Frequent watering is very important during bloom time. Too much heat and water stress at bloom time can eliminate an entire season's crop in a condition called “berry blast.” Soaker hoses and drip irrigation are excellent tools for keeping your berry plants healthy and hydrated without wasting water.
Other benefits of berries
Adding berries to your landscape also provides pollen and nectar for beneficial insects, food for indigenous birds and wildlife, and most casual thieves won't brave a blackberry bramble to get to your back door.
Raspberry and blackberry canes grow well in Morgan Hill, and they are easy plants to add to your landscape. Try them today.
You can learn more about growing berries and other edibles at the South County Teaching and Demo Garden, found at St. Louise Hospital, 9400 No NameUno, Gilroy. Classes are regularly offered to the public. For more information, check the events page or call (408) 282-3105 between 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
by UC Master Gardener Kate Russell
This article first appeared in the September 27 – October 10, 2017 issue of Morgan Hill Life.
By growing different varieties in your garden, you can pick berries year round!
The home gardener loves them, too, and because of our climate and the variety of berries available, we can enjoy pretty much a year-round harvest.
Here are some tips on fulfilling your strawberry dreams:
Berries like full sun and soil that drains well. They also need potassium, so add pot ash when planting in clay soil.
Don't plant where you have grown tomatoes, eggplants or peppers as strawberries are susceptible to verticillium wilt, a fungus that can infect the soil and damage or kill the plant.
Strawberries have shallow roots and need to be watered frequently. Keep plants moist but not soggy.
Strawberries do best when refreshed every year. Dig up and discard of the mother plant. Snip off and replant the healthiest runners that are putting out strong roots and, to ensure large harvests and superior taste, plant new plants every 3 to 4 years.
Strawberries fall into three primary categories: Everbearing, day neutral and June bearing.
Everbearing requires long days of sunlight to set fruit and, although they don't bear all year-round, they produce multiple crops in spring, summer and fall.
• Mara Des Bois, developed by a French breeding program, produces small, extremely fragrant, very flavorful fruit.
• Quinault produces up to 2 inch berries that are exceptionally sweet, great fresh or in preserves. It grows well in containers.
• White Carolina, or pineberry, is a unique white to pale pink berry that tastes like a cross between a strawberry and a pineapple. It produces medium size fruit from spring through fall and is heat tolerant and disease resistant.
Day Neutral berries do not depend on a set number of daylight hours in order to flower. They are a great choice if you want a small amount of fruit throughout the year.
• Alpine, sometimes thought of as wild strawberry, is a compact, clumping variety that can be grown in part sun. It has small, aromatic, rich tasting berries. Plants do not sent out runners so it makes a great edging option.
• Albion produces large, firm very sweet berries. It is disease resistant but needs more water and nutrients than other varieties. It spreads out rapidly, so space accordingly.
• Seascape, produced by the University of California in 1992, is productive. Many think it has the best flavor that any of the day neutral varieties.
June bearing strawberries require short day lengths, as in the fall, in order to flower. They are the most widely grown berry and make up the bulk of what you find at the supermarket. They tend to be vigorous plants, putting out lots of long runners, so require room to grow.
They are prolific producers of large fruit, but since the fruit comes on all at once you have to use it all pretty quickly. They are great for jams, jellies and pies.
Unlike the name implies, they don't all produce in June.
• Chandler offers good color and flavor, and the fruit holds well on the vine. It is susceptible to anthracnose disease.
• Earliglow is known for its wonderful strawberry flavor. The fruit is sweet, firm and medium sized. It produces vigorous runners, so give it plenty of space.
by UC Master Gardener Rebecca Jepsen
This article first appeared in the February 1 issue of the San Jose Mercury News./h3>