sea berries

beluga01September 17, 2009

Alternatively called Sea buckthorn. I just planted a named variety called "Golden Sweet" and a male pollinator. Purchased from The One World mail order nursery.

I'm curious if anyone else in our area has tried growing this berry. Any comments are appreciated.

According to the catalog sea berries should do well in the Pacific NW. I had queried the nursery about the variety they considered to be the sweetest when eaten fresh. Apparently this yellow-orange berry is already quite popular in Europe and Asia, although relatively unknown in the US. My new additions now reside in a big berry patch with rows including high and low bush blueberries, black and red currants, and Gojis.

Any advice about any other species of edible berries I might like to consider, is also appreciated.

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hemnancy(z8 PNW)

I have 3 seedling sea buckthorns which are quite large but have only had a very few berries, either they are all female and just had a few sterile berries or ? They fell over badly last winter. I guess some people harvest by cutting off whole limbs.

I really like Aronia, it's not that tasty fresh, but my son is eating them with stevia and yogurt. I cook them and strain out the seeds and skins and make a gelatin with them with stevia. They are very high in antioxidants. What I really like about them is ease of harvesting since they are in nice clusters hanging from a single stem easy to snap off, and all the berries in the cluster and on the whole bush ripen at once.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2009 at 4:43PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Probably best to start out with the idea that seaberry likes a sunny, dry, even sterile situation - such as it might grow in near the sea. I've had a problem with dieback on a moister, more fertile soil on Camano Island, WA.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2009 at 6:33PM
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I have had seaberry plants every year since 1993 in Portland.

During hot spells, I have watered them about every 2 weeks. Females need occasional water while the fruit is forming May-July. Mature plants did not seem to mind the 63" wet year of 1996(?).

The "Sea" part of the name is merely a British slang term for the plant, originating some decades ago. The plant's native range includes areas far removed from the sea.

Gritty, poor soil is best. I use sand and pumice amendments.
Do not fertilize.

My German varieties, similar to your "Golden Sweet", got very large very fast. Major top-pruning every other year to keep at 12 feet. The width was easier to maintain at about 5 feet. Pinch off new growth at 18 inches if you want to slow it down some.

Bloom in March/April is inconspicuous and easily overlooked. Fruit has formed when the bloom period went as low as 29 degrees, that was the worst case here over the years.

The word "sweet" when applied to seaberries is relative. Plan on using some sweetener!

And the operative word is "thorn". Not like a rose thorn, but like cactus needles. You will quickly learn how to avoid them during harvest. You have two or three years to practice your pain tolerance before the first significant harvest will occur for your plants.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2009 at 11:09PM
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After reading this I had to look up sea berry/buckthorn. I just read that the branches are cut when harvested and then frozen so that the berries will simply fall off when shaken. Very interesting berry seems to have nutritional and medicinal value.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2009 at 2:01AM
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thanks for the comments, especially your hands-on advice, Larry. Our bedrock property on san Juan island can be as dry as desert during July and August, and it is not at all unusual to have 90 degree days for extended periods.

Hemnancy, the nursery was quite emphatic with me that you need a male pollinator. I had a single female arguta kiwi for 3 years before getting the male. The before and after was like day and night as far as harvest.

However, the nursery was also encouraging that the "golden sweet" could indeed be eaten "out of hand". We'll see. They also told me that this variety was not going to be 12 foot+, but was a "medium-sized variety. Time will tell. I planted them with an 8 foot breadth from its spouse.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2009 at 1:19PM
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We are due to have 90-degree days number 24 and 25 next week, a new Portland record for any one year. My second-year seaberry plantings were not bothered by this summer's heat, although I watered them weekly because of the extreme conditions.

Hemnancy's plants may be similar to a batch of 10 seedlings I grew in the early 1990's, purchased from Oregon Exotics. They grew well, but only formed a handful of shrively berries. Named varieties from OGW nursery did infinitely better.

You can also eat lemons out of hand. I don't have any experience yet with the newer "sweet" seaberry varieties, but if they are three times as sweet as old varieties, keep some sugar cubes on hand. Eating fresh seaberries is a chew-and-spit operation: Each berry contains a pointed seed. It could all be chewed up and eaten, but the whole point of seaberry fruit is to make juice. A crank-type food mill or motorized auger type juicer work fine.

The freezing of whole branches to ease harvest of individual berries is something done at the commercial scale with acres of plants to be processed. With just one fruiting plant, you may eventually try freezing, but I can imagine about ten things that would go wrong if using a typical home freezer and then swatting the branch on a surface out in the open.

The size of any one plant will vary with conditions, but I can report that the male pollinator plants are not varietals; that is there is no "medium" or "compact" male with the same varietal name. The males are simply propagated from some master race of seaberries and get quite large. The good news is that one male does up to 8 females, so over-pruning the male to pollinate one other plant will still result in plenty of pollen. Males bloom at a much younger age than females. 8-foot spacing should be fine.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2009 at 12:13AM
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Larry, you imply that these berries are hardly to be "eaten out of hand" since they are about as sweet as lemons. Is making juice the only possibility you've tried? Have you made pieces or syrup or jam, or anything else with them. Do you have more than one female? This concerns me, since you also suggest that my 2 plants are going to take up some significant space, and only one of them is ever going to bear fruit. The flavor must be something special to be worth the trouble.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2009 at 5:50PM
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You got my implications correctly!

I have made juice, syrup, jelly, and ice cream. All of these food items start with making juice.

Also, the leaves after falling in autumn make make a nice soil amendment, as they decay readily.

In my second planting (the first was the non-fruiting seedlings), I had 4 females, and in my current planting, I have 3 females, all different varieties.

The flavor of seaberries, including all of my varieties and some of One Green World's during their annual tasting events, have the same basic flavor components. To me, they taste like a cross between apricot nectar and the flavor of cantaloupe. Seaberry is not my favorite flavor but I do enjoy a straight chilled glass of sweetened juice. The ice cream is excellent because the seaberry juice is so strong when added to the base vanilla ice cream recipe that the seaberry flavor remains strong. I don't care for any seaberry products at room temperature. Seaberry juice makes an excellent addition to orange, mango, and apricot juice, and can be doctored with lime or lemon juice. Seaberry juice stores well in the freezer.

This is not a plant where you can pop the fruit in your mouth and enjoy. If, like me, you like to pick berries by the hour, process them in machinery, and enjoy the self-made healthy benefits, then go for it!

    Bookmark   September 19, 2009 at 11:59PM
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Dros68(z8 OR)

I was also interested in Sea buckthorn, so got a branch from the farmer's market. The freezing/shaking didn't work well at all. Picking was somewhat difficult as the thorns (as others have mentioned) are serious. On the other hand, I enjoyed eating the berries straight, although they are not very sweet.

I have been greatly enjoying the newer gooseberry varieties. My children love them too. My favorite is an unnamed farmer's market plant grown from the OSU germplasm collection, I was told. Sweet, with complex melon and apricot flavors. Very different from the shock of sour the traditional gooseberry brings.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2009 at 2:38AM
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dros68, where did you get the unnamed gooseberry? Are they still for sale? Thanks.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2009 at 11:56AM
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Dros68(z8 OR)

The Eugene Saturday market 2-3 years ago. I've been looking out for more of the same to get more info but I haven't seen it.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2009 at 1:49AM
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my mouth is watering looking at those two bottles of juice

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 3:30PM
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My last bottles for awhile; the new seaberry plants are too young for significant harvest.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2010 at 1:28AM
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hemnancy(z8 PNW)

I learned something interesting on google tonight, the sea buckthorn leaves have health benefits so I can make tea with them, even if my cheapie seedling bushes don't have any berries. I started eating my frozen Aronia on my fruit salads or with yogurt or whipping cream sweetened with Stevia, so I'm no longer cooking it and am getting the full benefit of the seeds and skins.:-P

    Bookmark   April 3, 2010 at 2:05AM
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Yes, the leaves are used for tea (and other uses commercially) and they are easy to work into the soil because they break down quickly. I've never let mine go to waste.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 1:43AM
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