Help me lay out my Berry Garden

rinibeanJuly 18, 2013

Hi, I'm new to the forum and would appreciate some help laying out our berry garden. We live in central Virginia.

Long-term, we'd like to use raised beds (due to poor drainage) to plant blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and grapes.

Short-term, we want to get at least one strawberry bed up ASAP. We have plants to transplant before the winter. However, in deciding exactly where to put it, we kind of need to lay out where the other fruits will go in the future since we won't be moving the strawberries down the road. Ideally, I'd like to map out a plan for the yard and we'll actually build the beds over the next couple years.

The area where we are planting gets sun most of the day, but from the side. Strawberries will need to be closest to the rise and setting of the sun to not be shaded. Other than that, we need help figuring out how to order the rows from closest to the strawberries to furthest from the strawberries.

I have heard here and there that certain berries do not grow well in close proximity (perhaps blackberries and blueberries need to be 50ft apart?). Also, I'm not sure which of these fruits require the most sun, as I suppose it would make sense to order them in that direction away from the strawberries so that the one that requires the least amount of sun is furthest from the strawberries (since they will be somewhat shaded by the other fruit trees).

That's kind of what I'm aiming for, as well as anyone who can provide a link to a source that might make laying out this garden easier (an easy source that lists how far plants should be spaced within a bed, and then also how far each fruit should be spaced from one another, how to prepare beds for each fruit, etc.). I've done lots of research here and there and I probably should start taking notes, but if there's some great site out there that I haven't discovered yet that would make it a little easier, I would appreciate hearing about it.

Thanks in advance for the help!

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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

It used to be said to keep black raspberries and red raspberries away from each other. Two reasons for this, which I won't go into, but I still grow them right next to each other. As far as other berries being kept away from each other no. You may have mistaken what was meant. you don't want them competing for the same root space. So yeah raspberries will push out other plants, they grow like wild, blackberries too. I would keep them in their own bed. If these plants are keep in separate beds, order matters little, Blackberries and raspberries require the least sun.

Here is my set up Raspberries are in a back bed 25"x24'
Three 4'x4' beds, each with a blueberry in the middle surrounded by strawberry plants. Runners from the strawberries will be removed and planted elsewhere. Once the blueberries get big enough, all strawberries will be removed. All plants shown were planted this spring.

For growing strawberries, you may want to check the link below the photo.

Here is a link that might be useful: Growing strawberries

This post was edited by Drew51 on Thu, Jul 18, 13 at 20:22

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 8:10PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

A close up of one of the 4x4 beds.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 8:12PM
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Thanks, those are beautiful! Are you planning on staking the raspberries at all? I've seen beds with wire running down each side, I guess to keep the growth from overtaking the walkways and also for general support of the plant? I'm not sure if we need those or not.

Are you mulching with peat moss? What mix did you use for the soil in the beds? Our soil pH averages 8 here, even though we have plenty of soil around I'm hoping to just buy bags and mix new soil myself.

I was thinking of doing 3ftx8ft beds for the raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries (though 3ft is probably wider than we need...that's another thing I'm trying to figure out). Long term we'd do two for each fruit in rows so there would not be any sharing of the beds.

Strawberries we were planning 3.5ftx8ft in two separate beds. I wanted to do three rows per bed. It seems like the right size to get three rows in and still make the middle row easily accessible?

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 8:26PM
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I was thinking of doing 3ftx8ft beds for the raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries >>>> I would go 2 ft wide , better airflow and less fungus problems , my strawberry beds are 4 ft wide and 16 to 24 ft long

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 10:00PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Your plan sounds OK, I'll comment, but you know I'm not that experienced myself with these plants. I have been growing plants though for almost 40 years.

"Are you planning on staking the raspberries at all?"
A trellis is up, you just can't see it. See photo.

"Are you mulching with peat moss? What mix did you use for the soil in the beds?"
The beds were made different for each type. Basically 1/3 garden soil. 1/3 peat moss, and 1/3 compost. Probably a bit more garden soil than 1/3. In the Blueberry-strawberry beds, pine bark fines were added too. Blueberries are mulched with large pine bark, the strawberries and raspberries with pine needles. Sulfur was added also, more in the spring to just the center where blueberry is. Added to all beds, but more in blueberry bed.
The blueberries are fertilized with acid organic fertilizer, and ammonium sulfate, which is very acidic. 1 teaspoon per 2.5 gallons, once a month until August. 1st. No more after that. Begin again April 1st. Ph is around 5.0 in center, and about 5.8 at outer edges.

On size of beds I would do 2ftx8 for blackberries and raspberries. 3 feet is too wide, it will be hard to pick berries as they will spread the whole width. Plus air flow will be poor, inviting disease.
I would look at the strawberry site and how they explain the row systems.
My blueberries are northern high bush and each plant (three total) will fill the 4x4 bed. They grow from 5 to 7 feet high, and just as wide. All strawberries will be removed at the end of the 2014 season.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 10:06PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

I forgot to mention in the spring I will add to top of soil a mixture of compost, pine bark fines, and peat moss, heavy on the compost.
Pine bark fines are extremely hard to find. Most pine bark mulch is too chunky to use as a soil additive. English Gardens here in my area has a pine mulch which is fairly fine, Any other bark is not acceptable. But you do not absolutely need it. You will need all else I mentioned though. Peat is a must for blueberries, so is sulfur. For soil I used mostly garden, with a touch of potting. Good potting soil has a lot of peat, I already added peat and needed loam, so feel garden soil is best.
This blend though dries quickly, I have wet springs, so needed a super fast draining soil, and I got it! I almost have to water daily. Oh you need to use rainwater for the blueberries, if you use city, you are increasing the PH, so will need sulfur, more of it, and you must monitor ph level. If wrong blueberries will die and die quickly. The other berries can grow from 5.2 to 7.5 so no worries there.
I find though keeping the PH low is best, just look at how huge my plants are! All planted this year!! Four months ago!!

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 10:29PM
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There can be an advantage for the caneberry beds long axis to be aligned north-south, otherwise the sun beats down on the south side of the row / fruit all day. N-S alignment then allows equal sun exposure for each side of the row, except for the south end of each row, of course.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 10:40PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Larry great point. I could not do that. It would be a diagonal across my backyard. My current bed is facing northeast-southwest. My blackberries are northwest- southeast (in ground-foreground)

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 11:07PM
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I'm growing my strawberries on a wooden container:
I planted about 25 strawberry plants directly to the ground---desert sand. They were growing in the ground for a year---they were growing fine but not as healthy as I had expected. Therefore, IâÂÂve decided to grow them in a container. After they were planted in a container they started growing very healthy and they even produced a good crop this year.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 11:52PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

The problems you face are room, in a 2x 8 bed I would only use 3 raspberry plants or 2 blackberry.
For a 3.5x8 ft strawberry bed i would only do two rows and one row would work.
June bearing and everbearing are huge plants with runners filling the area quickly.
Here is a 4x4 bed of pineberries, and only 5 plants are there, 3 pineberries and 2 musk strawberries, the rest are runners formed so far this year. Also a Chandler blueberry in the middle, planted this spring. In the bottom right corner numerous runners are hanging off the side. I guess you might fit 2 rows in there.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2013 at 9:10AM
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I would have been loathe to put diagonal rows in my yard also; NW-SE is better than E-W.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2013 at 11:40PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Still the back fence does not get much light, mostly early morning and late evening. Then again I have a raspberry bed with only an eastern exposure and the fall gold summer crop was over 200 berries from one plant. I removed the flourocanes Wednesday with about 20 berries left. it was getting brittle, and the fruit slowed in ripening. Many of the everbearing types are begining to show fall crop blooms including fall gold. Everbearing is a good name! The primocanes are a little tall trying to get over the flourocanes, but now that those are gone I'm sure the primocanes will fill out. Forgoing a summer crop is not a good idea as far as I'm concerned. I made some fruit leather out of the fall gold golden berries.Yum!

This post was edited by Drew51 on Sat, Jul 20, 13 at 10:06

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 10:01AM
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