Gardening Articles: Edibles :: Small Fruits & Berries
by National Gardening Association Editors
Plants bear in their second season.
Plan to set your new plants out in early spring, just as the trees in your area leaf out.
For best yields, start a new bed of plants each year and take out beds that have fruited.
Select a site that offers full sun and good drainage and air circulation.
Apply aged manure and a complete fertilizer such as 5-10-10 (1 pound per 50-foot row) before planting in the spring.
Space your rows 4 feet apart.
Trim the roots of the new plants to no more than 6 inches long. Soak the roots in water for about an hour before planting.
Set the plants 18 inches apart in the rows.
Dig holes in the ground deep enough so the roots are covered but the crown isn't buried. Pack the soil against the roots and add about 1/2 pint of water mixed with a diluted soluble fertilizer.
First year, spring: Keep the bed free of weeds. Pick off blossoms to prevent fruiting and encourage production of healthy daughter plants.
Late spring: 5 to 6 weeks after planting, train daughter plants to take root in a 9-by-9-inch spaced row system.
Late spring and summer: Side-dress with ammonium nitrate (1/2 pound per 100-foot row), 5-10-10 (2 1/2 pounds per 100-foot row), or manure tea (1/2 to 1 pint per plant). Side-dress again 1 month later.
Late fall: After a few freezes, mulch with 5 to 6 inches of straw or 4 to 5 inches of pine needles.
Second year, late spring: Remove the mulch gradually in spring, but protect blossoms from late frost with covers of mulch, if needed. Provide 1 inch of water per week while the fruit is developing, through harvest.
Cover the patch with tobacco cloth or strawberry netting to keep birds out.
Summer: After harvest, till the plants under, plant a cover crop, and prepare the bed for new plants next spring.
The berries will ripen about 1 month after the plants bloom. Expect 2 to 3 weeks of harvesting for each variety.
Pick the plants clean every 2 or 3 days. Avoid the green-tipped berries; they're not fully ripe.
When harvesting, don't leave berry remnants on the plants. They encourage plant rot.
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