Strawberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, and Raspberries, Oh My!

Strawberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, and Raspberries, Oh My!

Though small in stature, the humble berry is a giant when it comes to nutritional value. Loaded with phytochemicals that protect cells, they are ounce for ounce one of the best foods you can grow!

Strawberries

Strawberries are my favorite berry. They are usually grown in rows that are watered easily with 1/4" Soaker Dripline. If grown in a raised bed with the proper soil and drip irrigation, you'll be pickin' berries in no time. The beds can be easily framed with 2 x 6 lumber and corner joints. 6 to 12 inches of height is all that is necessary for growing strawberries as they have a shallow root system. The best soil for high production and good root growth is a mix of sand, rich organic matter, and clay. Watering early in morning for a short time is best. For rows longer than 34' (the maximum allowable run length for Soaker Dripline with emitters spaced every 12"), 1/2" Emitter Tubing is an excellent choice. Once the strawberry plants are established, they'll need to be thinned every year for maximum production. (See Strawberry Shortcake recipe below)

Blueberries

Blueberries are one of the most nutritional foods you can grow. They are known cancer fighters, eyesight savers, contain anti-aging properties, and are loaded with disease fighting antioxidants. To be hardy, blueberry bushes need a well drained acidic soil (a pH of 4.5-5 is optimal) that is high in organic matter containing peat, bark, and cottonseed meal. These bushes require 1-2 inches of water each week and are heavy feeders. The newly planted bush should be fine the first year in a hole that is both 20 inches deep and wide. In the second year, using a fertilizer injector with a water soluble organic fertilizer is a good way to ensure a large, nutritious crop.

Blackberries & Raspberries

Blackberries and raspberries grow on vines that are often trained to a trellis or grown against a fence. Generally, these berries need similar soil conditions (well drained with plenty of organic matter) and require about 1" of water per week. As both of these berries can be pruned and trellis-trained, they are normally grown in rows. The mainline can be run down the row next to the base of the bush with an emitter punched in on both sides of the plant about 6" from the main cane. Pressure Compensating Shrubblers will also provide plenty of water and give you and even flow all along the row regardless of elevation changes. Suckers will sprout up and should be thinned out regularly to promote fruit production on the remaining canes. Full sun, good drainage, rich soil, mulch, and about 1" of water per week will keep them healthy and producing.

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