I just wish I had a nice photo of berries to share!

BERRIES

It’s November 2019. This is now the third year our raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and goji berries have been in the ground. We have harvested about a dozen strawberries, no blueberries, no raspberries. This year we were able to harvest some goji berries, so at least we have those. More on each berry below. I wonder if these berries just don’t have enough summer to gain enough growth for a good start the following year. I’m in a real quandary about how to know whether it’s worth keeping them in the ground, give up and get some different varieties, or give up entirely.

Please see my post about “Growing Zone Frustration”. My big frustration is that when I’m purchasing plants such as berries, the only buying information I’m given is what USDA Zones they are suited for, and that’s not enough. I’m not given information about summer growing season length, summer temperatures, growing latitude, etc. I wonder whether our season is just not long enough or warm enough for these plants to thrive and produce fruit?

All blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries were planted as directed. Soil was amended to make it more acidic and fertilizers & compost added to the soil.

 

RASPBERRIES
The raspberry plants grow large, they just don’t produce berries. The first year of our garden we planted some FallRed and FallYellow rasberries. These were both, as their names suggest, “Fall-Bearing” raspberries. Perhaps that was a mistake. Since I questioned the viability of these, I purchased and planted two of the “Summer-Bearing” varieties the summer of 2018, Encore and Latham. They got a good start that summer, and in 2019 they grew well. By the end of that summer, there were about 6 green berries on one of the plants, which were small and not well developed when they froze in September.

I still have some hope that the Encore and Latham might bear in 2020. I am currently unsure what to do with the bed of fall-bearing raspberries. I will probably rip them out and put something else there, but what? More summer-bearing raspberries?

 

Northblue Blueberry 8/2017

BLUEBERRIES
During that first summer, 2017, we also planted 3 dwarf blueberry plants, Northcountry and Northblue. The first summer they reached about 1’ tall. The second summer, the first branches never grew back or budded out, but there was some growth up from the root, and the plants reached about 1’ tall. Tall, not “tall-ER”. The third summer, the Northcountry never came back at all. The Northblue plants grew similarly to the previous summer, or even a bit less growth. 

Northblue Blueberry, 8/2018

Northblue Blueberry, 9/2019

I just cannot find information about whether to expect blueberries to grow here. I had a neighbor tell me she’d had a blueberry plant do well until a bear got to it. I thought that berries in my garden, protected from wildlife, would do better. Perhaps I am wrong. Similar to the raspberries, I’m not sure whether to try again, perhaps giving the berries better protection in the spring. I’ve thought that the branches began to bud just a bit, but froze the little buds off after they came out too early. I’m not sure if that is the case. We do tend to have some warm spells in March and April, with freezing spells intermittently between. What to do????

 

STRAWBERRIES
These plants, originally planted Spring 2017, grow big and beautiful. They blossom some, and a few berries grow. The summer of 2018 I did not protect them from birds, and I fear that the birds got to them. The summer of 2019 only about 5 of the 24 plants grew back. These were bird-proofed, grew well and we ate about a dozen berries, one or two at a time.

The strawberries planted were “Fort Laramie”, an “everbearing” strawberry. Perhaps that was the wrong choice. Since I have had some success with the strawberry plants at least growing, for 2020 I think I will try some “junebearing” strawberries. Since they are supposed to bear in June or July, perhaps I will actually get some strawberries in August or September.

 

GOJI BERRIES
Goji berries are our one success. Too bad they don’t taste very good. I know they’re supposed to be very good for you, high in antioxidants and all that good stuff. I had some with granola and yogurt a couple of times, which was okay, but not nearly as good as strawberries, blueberries or raspberries would have been. Finally I threw a bunch in with an apple pie, which was a good way to get rid of them and put them in our bodies.

The goji plant grows well in our climate and altitude. It’s popping out high above our hoop framework, and gets pruned frequently. As the berries were beginning to ripen this past summer I just didn’t know when they were actually ripe. I’d try one occasionally and felt it was a bit tart, until finally they seemed less tart, almost flavorless, and I decided they must be ripe. Sorry I don’t have a photo, I can’t find the photos I took.

I don’t know…they grow, but are they worth it?

 

CONCLUSION
Perhaps none of these berries are expected to grow in this climate, except for the gojis. I just wish I could find some information from the “experts”. As in the “Growing Zone Frustration” post mentioned above, the berries always indicate the Zones they will grow in. But based on my research, the “Zones” vary widely in their conditions. Many Zone 3 areas have much longer & warmer summers as opposed to my Zone 4 area, so I cannot know whether plants rated Zone 3 will grow here. I’ve tried. They haven’t.