As children and adults alike we love picking fresh fruit straight from the bushes in our gardens.
Berryfruit; raspberries, boysenberries, blackberries, currants, and blueberries have become popular in recent years because of the great taste and their proven health properties. Berries are a must for all gardens.
Spring is the best time to plant berries. There are numerous berry varieties on the market today, along with the introduction of many thornless varieties. All berries are self fertile except for blueberries. When planting blueberries, which are so versatile and make a lovely informal hedge, it is best to plant different varietes to assit in pollination resulting in a much greater berry yeild.
Where to Plant
Choose a warm sunny position, sheltered from strong winds.
Brambles (raspberries, boysenberries, blackberries) will grow in most soils. These require a fence or frame to grow along.
Blueberries require a free draining but moist soil which is acidic (do not use lime or dolomite).
In clay soils, raise plantings and add lots of compost.
This is a highly recommended practice as it suppresses weeds and conserves moisture in the soil. We recommend using Daltons Mulch and Feed
Berryfruit generally benefit from an annual dressing of lime or gypsum, in August, followed by an application of General Fertiliser in September.
Blueberries - Feed with acid fertiliser such as Azalea / rhododendron fertiliser.
Many berryfruit can withstand considerable dry periods, but watering will greatly improve the result.
Although there are a number of pests and diseases that can attack berryfruit, they tend to be minor or easily controlled. The major pest is birds.
We recommend covering your plants with bird netting during harvest time.
Raspberries, blueberries, and currants are relatively pest free, although raspberries will get botrytis grey mould if there is wet weather during picking. Use grosafe free Flo Copper.
Boysenberries and blackberries may suffer from dryberry disease, caterpillars, and mites. Yates Mavrik will deal to the pests.
Gooseberries are attacked by powdery mildew although some varieties are resistant.
The sprays we recommend are all low toxicity and environmentally friendly, but observe the waiting time between spraying and harvest, listed on the label.
Most berryfruits grow on bushes or vines. Hence there is little required to shaping.
Pruning for continuous crops, and to keep the bush - vine under control, requires some attention.
Raspberries are upright canes and fruit on new seasons growth which originates from the previous years new canes that have emerged from the soil. Therefore in July, cut out all old canes which carried last seasons crop. These canes are distinguished from the one year canes which you want to retain, by their grey colour, and usually by this time are dry brittle wood. The canes to be retained tend to be light brown in colour and still very green and alive. These retained canes can then be shortened back to about two thirds their height.
Tying 4 - 5 canes together at the top is a common practice to help keep them upright when new growth starts in spring. The new canes for the following year’s crop will emerge and grow in late spring summer. They will require tying up for support. Suckers that emerge 20 cm or more away from the base should be removed.
Boysenberries and Blackberries require to be grown on a fence / wire support for the long limp canes. They fruit on new season’s growth which originates from vines grown the previous summer - autumn. (In many areas, blackberries will also fruit on current season’s growth which means they can be cut back hard in winter.) In July prune out all old canes that carried fruit last season, and tie up all the new canes that have been grown through the autumn.
Currants fruit on wood grown the previous season as well as older wood. Hence, in July prune out really old wood and shorten the bush by about one quarter to keep it contained.
Gooseberries fruit on spurs which last several years, but best fruit is on young ones, so cut out aged wood.
Blueberries fruit on wood grown the previous season. Therefore to both keep the bush under control and to maintain good fruiting, prune the growth that has carried the crop as soon as it is picked, in summer. This encourages new growth from a lower level maintaining a compact bush. Water well in summer to encourage this new growth.
Harvest when ripe, eat fresh or cook, just make sure you beat the birds!