Small fruits advice wanted!

hoghaven_duluthmnJanuary 14, 2008

Time to get out of hibernation and think about the garden again. This is the year I plan to add many small fruits to the garden. I have some blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and grapes. I would like to add perhaps a North Star or Meteor cherry, a Mt. Royal plum, honeybells (?),juneberries, blackberries, currants, elderberries, bush cherries(?), and whatever would be good. I like the berries for juicing, canning and freezing, wildlife, fragrance and ornamental plantings. What do you feel has been worth growing for you? What varieties have done well? What should I stay away from? Any good and cheap mail order sources? I am also looking for plants that will start producing relatively quickly. I have tried many apples, plums, etc., but always end up having problems with them, or moving before the plant gets to production. Any and all advice, comments and experience stories very much appreciated!

Andi

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hoghaven_duluthmn

You have helped me make some decisions. I think I will not try and stretch the zone with the blackberries and I think I will save the money on the honeyberries, and invest it in more plants of the elderberry, blueberries, perhaps currants. It has been too cold to get out there and count pine needles.

Thanks for the pine bonsai sites. I plan to study them this weekend and watch for the errors. I have been thinking about doing some bonsai-type pruning as my DH planted some pine trees against my will. I want to try keep them shorter and more sculpted. If I have to do this with a chainsaw, so be it.

Regarding the invasive bell--I know that what so many people call invasive, might be just a minor weedy inconvenience to me. However, knowing that the birds do love to eat the berries and spread the wealth, it can be dangerous to try some of the "exotics". Sure would like to get a taste of the honeyberries sometime.

If anyone has any thoughts about black raspberries and purple raspberries, I would like to hear them.

On to the the next project plan--ground covers!

    Bookmark   December 2, 0002 at 12:07AM
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hoghaven_duluthmn

You have helped me make some decisions. I think I will not try and stretch the zone with the blackberries and I think I will save the money on the honeyberries, and invest it in more plants of the elderberry, blueberries, perhaps currants. It has been too cold to get out there and count pine needles.

Thanks for the pine bonsai sites. I plan to study them this weekend and watch for the errors. I have been thinking about doing some bonsai-type pruning as my DH planted some pine trees against my will. I want to try keep them shorter and more sculpted. If I have to do this with a chainsaw, so be it.

Regarding the invasive bell--I know that what so many people call invasive, might be just a minor weedy inconvenience to me. However, knowing that the birds do love to eat the berries and spread the wealth, it can be dangerous to try some of the "exotics". Sure would like to get a taste of the honeyberries sometime.

If anyone has any thoughts about black raspberries and purple raspberries, I would like to hear them.

On to the the next project plan--ground covers!

    Bookmark   December 2, 0002 at 12:07AM
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hoghaven_duluthmn

You have helped me make some decisions. I think I will not try and stretch the zone with the blackberries and I think I will save the money on the honeyberries, and invest it in more plants of the elderberry, blueberries, perhaps currants. It has been too cold to get out there and count pine needles.

Thanks for the pine bonsai sites. I plan to study them this weekend and watch for the errors. I have been thinking about doing some bonsai-type pruning as my DH planted some pine trees against my will. I want to try keep them shorter and more sculpted. If I have to do this with a chainsaw, so be it.

Regarding the invasive bell--I know that what so many people call invasive, might be just a minor weedy inconvenience to me. However, knowing that the birds do love to eat the berries and spread the wealth, it can be dangerous to try some of the "exotics". Sure would like to get a taste of the honeyberries sometime.

If anyone has any thoughts about black raspberries and purple raspberries, I would like to hear them.

On to the the next project plan--ground covers!

    Bookmark   December 2, 0002 at 12:07AM
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leftwood(z4a MN)

If your "Honeybells" suggestion are Honeyberries, see this, that I have posted on many forums from my own experience:

Please be careful with the birds! After the first season of birds eating my berries (and every last one), I found little seedlings EVERYWHERE. They could be the next big woody invasive plant! I just can't fathom that this could not be a problem elsewhere.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 7:29PM
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hostaholic2 z 4, MN

I love my elderberries, gooseberries, and currents. They make fantastic jams and jellies. The elderberries tend to sucker out somewhat and I've found a few (half dozen or less) gooseberry seedlings in the 12-15 years I've been growing these.Haven't experienced any problems with the currents, but if you're in an area with pines you may want to stay away from the currents. They can be a host/carrier for white pine blister rust. Elderberries, I have Adams & Johns, Pixwell gooseberries, and Red Lake currants. All begin fruiting within a couple of years. Nankin cherries make a very tasty jelly, but it takes lot's of them as the cherries are very small. They are lovely in bloom and the birds flock to the bushes, you have to be quick to get some cherries before they're gone. Haven't noticed any bird plantings of those.
leftwood, glad to know that about the Honeyberries, I had been thinking about planting some.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 10:40PM
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leftwood(z4a MN)

if you're in an area with pines you may want to stay away from the currants.

True, but to clarify: you need only worry about pines with five needles in a bunch, not one, two or three. Includes in the five needle grouping would be White pine(Pinus strobus) and Swiss Stone pine(Pinus cembra). Norway(Red)pine, Jack pine, Austrian pine, Mugho pine, spruces and firs are not affected by white pine blister rust.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2008 at 4:42PM
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hostaholic2 z 4, MN

Thanks for the clarification! I should have been more specific.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2008 at 10:41PM
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hoghaven_duluthmn

Yes, honeyberries - not honeybells. I wish my husband would figure out my word mangling as well! Leftwood, yes I found your postings in the Far North and Northern forums. So, what do you do with your honeyberries? (In other words, did you make pie?) How long did it take for them to mature enough to get enough berries for pie? (Okay, I guess I am hungry for pie.) Do you think the soil pH had a huge impact with your success? I was looking through the catalogs, and I am surprised that honeyberries are so expensive when apparently they are almost invasive. Probably due to the "new and exotic" image they currently conjure up.

However, since I note you compared them to blueberry grapefruit, perhaps they would be better juiced?

Hostaholic - How many bushes did you plant of the elderberries, Nankin cherries, and currants? I have noticed wild currants in the woodsy areas around here. I guess I will be out counting pine tree needles today. I do think that we have many white pine, but I am not up on my pine trees, but I do recognize a jack pine, though! I also will have to do some researching on the blister rust as I don't really understand what it does.

Yes, its amazing how the birds can de-berry a tree practically overnight. They sure love the grapes, but the birds are so fickle--they disappear as soon as they are done feasting. I have yet to pick a ripe chokecherry.

From the zone information, it looks as though I have to settle for black raspberries. Does anyone grow true blackberries? Perhaps I could push the zone by doing a "Minnesota Tip".

Thanks for the great information!

    Bookmark   January 16, 2008 at 10:58AM
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leftwood(z4a MN)

True blackberries are apparently wild in southern mn up to the Twin Cities, but I have never seen them. It's one fruit I could never understand all the hullabaloo about. Since the center stick in the berry is not removeable, I think maybe I just have an aversion to that. As I remember (many years ago), the canes were quite vicious. I would think the tip method would work though.

If you already have wild currants or gooseberries there, I would let it stop you from planting more, but I would still choose the rust resistant cultivars.

About the five needle pines, this will help you distinguish:
http://www.bonsaiforbeginners.com/Bonsai_for_beginners-pine-pruning.html
Scroll to the last photos.
There are always inaccuracies on the web. You need to be cognizant. This one is completely WRONG!
http://www.shohin-europe.com/ARTICLES-MATSU-differences.html

I have never made pie with the honeyberries. I eat them plain with sugar (even better - honey), or make honeyberry brown betty instead of apple. Still working on the correct spicing, although they really don't need any. Juicing would be excellent, I'm sure. And there would be very little, if any, pulp left.

Plants might produce a few berries the second year, but will really start the third. From two plants you should get enough for a pie in the fourth or fith season. I am not sure, but I would think they are quite pH adaptable, being a Lonicera. Mine are in a pH of 7.

Yes, I think it is the exotic nature of them that keeps the price up. That, and that none are seed grown to my knowledge. A good thing in my opinion. Also, to my knowledge, I am the only one clanging the invasive bell. I understand it might be region specific, and there are relatively few people who have even grown them as long as I have, but in fact most Lonicera species are invasive here, at least to some degree, if not terribly so. I really can't understand the resistance I've encountered to the idea that honeyberries could be invasive too.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2008 at 6:16PM
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hostaholic2 z 4, MN

I have 4 of each of the elderberries, gooseberries, and currants. That usally gives me plenty of berries. Well ok, this year we made elderberry wine, so I was wishing I had more, plus a heavy rain/wind while they were in peak bloom knocked off a lot of blossoms. I didn't have enough to do both wine and jelly so am rationing the elderberry jelly I have left. The Nankin cherries are part of a corner lot windbreak and if I remember right there are about a dozen. That said the last 2 years I didn't get any cherries, not because there weren't any, but because I wasn't home the day they ripened and they were GONE by the next afternoon.
leftwood, I plan to heed your advice and not plant the honeyberries. I've spent the last 15 years getting rid of the buckthorn the previous owner left behind. Last summer for the first time I didn't spy any seedlings in my beds or windbreak. I don't need to introduce a new problem.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2008 at 9:23PM
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julie_mn(z4 MN Henn)

We have a bunch of wild black raspberries along the railroad tracks by my house- We all love heading on down the tracks with our buckets!
The birds have given me some in my yard as well- but with such a bumper crop so close by- I tend to try to eliminate them from the yard- and the huge mugo out front before they become a nuisance. It is surprisingly fast how just one plant can become a huge expanse of berries if left to it's own devises.
I do have a raspberry patch in the yard- the neighbor boys and my family all get a bunch to eat and freeze every year.
Raspberries can also carry rust- the host is spruce. Use caution and a sly eye if planting these close to each other.
I have found that red currents spread in my yard like the honeyberries do in Rick's yard. I have thick patches of them in a couple of areas- and they do spread each year.
I wish the much taller black currents would spread like the knee to thigh high red cousins....
I have been waiting to see and taste my service berries, nanking cherries- as well as my honeyberries! Maybe this year will be the year...
I would be very careful if you plan on planting plums. I have 3 wild plums from So Dak- and another one from Great Grandma's Garden- and they are all suckering up to 25' away from the trees- coming up in the yard and in other garden beds. I guess I just didn't realize they would be so persistent in trying to make more of themselves when I planted them.
And then there is always the Mulberry... I have a few self starters scattered about in the yard- and some years- I do get a fair crop from them- others- they tend to die off. The birds, a couple of dear old neighbor ladies and I do like them fresh.
Andi- and others too- if you would like to try to grow any of the unknown varieties of black raspberries or red currents I have growing in my yard- just come on over and dig up a couple! I have enough growing around the place to share!

Julie

    Bookmark   January 18, 2008 at 10:19PM
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leftwood(z4a MN)

Black raspberries have the best and most intense flavor, IMO. But they are seedy and small. Can't say I have ever tried purple raspberries, but being a cross between red and black, I would think they would be most excellent.

Red raspberries (not sure about black raspberries) can also get septoria leafspot, one of the summer leaf diseases of tomatoes. But it never seems to hurt them(Rasperries).

    Bookmark   January 19, 2008 at 10:19AM
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zenpotter(z4 MN)

I have a Meteor cherry and I have never gotten so many complements about a pie than I have when I use those cherries.
It produces so many cherries I don't worry about the birds taking their share either.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2008 at 10:27AM
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leftwood(z4a MN)

Meteor does ultimately grow larger than Northstar, although it is still dwarf. I have one at my parents' house, and the birds get them all. I guess it all depends.

It's a lot of fun gardening under/near my Autumn Brilliance Juneberry, watching the Cedaar Waxwings wrestling with the berries. They go after them when there is hardly a blush of red, and have to really tug to dislodge them. And I swear, that by mid-harvest, those little birds have gone from sleek wonders of nature to plump little fatsoes. I'm just glad those berries are diaretic like a lot of other fruits . . .

    Bookmark   January 19, 2008 at 8:27PM
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dirtbert(z4)

I have two nanking cherry bushes and this past year I outsmarted the birds and got my first batch. The bushes are about 4-5 years old and stand about 6-7 feet tall (they were 15 inche sticks when I got them). I juice them for making jelly and it is spectacular!

To outsmart the birds my husband made a pvc pipe frame that fits over the bushes and we covered it with netting. With a bunch of clothes pins and some strategically placed fence posts to hold the bottom we managed to keep the birds out (the first day we missed a whole and I had three birds - a blue jay, a red headed woodpecker, and a robin - all trapped in there...LOL

THe pvc/netting house is big and not very attractive but it definitely has worked. THe best part is we can re-use the same thing over several different berry plantings as they have different ripening schedules.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2008 at 10:20PM
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hoghaven_duluthmn

Thanks for all of the suggestions. I recently started a new job and so haven't had the time or energy to do any more planning. Yes, I have had a robin get caught in the bird netting and it was a mad dash to see who would get to the bird first, me or my cat. I did win the race and the bird was saved, but not without a good deal of nasty scratches from the adrenalin pumped-up cat.

I did plant an Autumn Brilliance last year and will add some more juneberries this year. I will be putting in elderberries, the nankings, and some black currants that are immune to the blister rust--probably about 3-4 plants of each. Do you think I should plant them in "island" clusters around the back yard? Or should I make it easier to mow around by lining them up across the back fence? I hate to limit the exercise that the deer get by setting it up buffet-style. On the other hand, they will probably work up an appetite having to hoof it to each "island."

Andi

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 8:32AM
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leftwood(z4a MN)

Just realized I made a fatal typo. I meant to say:
I'm just glad those berries(of Autumn Brilliance) are NOT diaretic like a lot of other fruits . . .

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 4:49PM
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hoghaven_duluthmn

LOL! I thought perhaps you had some evil vengeful inclinations regarding those sweet little tweety birds.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 7:20PM
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