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A Quick Guide to Growing Berries
Perfect for urban gardens, many berry plants don't take up much space, can be grown in pots and the results are truly delicious. And by berries and berry fruit, I mean in the colloquial sense. While it’s technically true that a banana is a berry while blackberries and raspberries aren’t, a description on growing berries that excludes the latter and includes bananas would be confusing to say the least.
Stunningly delicious, these berries are easy to grow, provided you get things right from the outset, and can provide masses of tasty tangy fruit.
Choosing your plants
For people in Auckland or other warmer areas of the country, it is generally best to choose a Rabbiteye variety, and with a few exceptions we mainly sell Rabbiteye varieties.
Other types available are classed either as Southern Highbush (which can generally be grown in warmer areas) or Highbush (best grown in cooler areas).
While they are self-fertile, blueberries will produce more fruit if they are pollinated by another variety of the same type (e.g, choose two different Rabbiteye varieties to ensure they are both pollinated).
Best planted in full sun, though they will tolerate part shade. Prefer free-draining, slightly acidic soil that is rich in organic matter.
Container growing – If you are short of space, they can be grown in a large pot that should hold at least 40L of potting mix. A half wine-barrel is ideal and can hold two plants.
Fill pot with container mix.
Growing in the ground – Can be grown as individual shrubs or as a short, informal hedge.
Space 0.6-1m apart for a hedge or 2m apart to grow as a shrub.
Dig a hole as deep and as wide as your pot and then backfill mixing in compost, peat and sheep pellets with your soil. Then plant into the loosened soil.
In heavier soils make sure you break the edge of your hole up and mix in gypsum. In really heavy soils plant into a slight mound to improve drainage.
Fruit is borne on last year’s wood. Vigorous wood tends to bear the largest fruit.
In winter prune out any dead, damaged or diseased wood as well as any weaker looking growth. Prune out some old growth (older than four to five years) to encourage new growth and increase vigor.
Feed with Kings Blueberry Food or, for and organic option, use Aquaticus Organic Garden Booster.
These hardy members of the rubus family are all delicious and fairly easy to grow. Though there are definitely a few tricks worth knowing to keep them productive and under control.
Full sun though they can tolerate part shade. For best results grow in free-draining, fertile soil rich in organic matter.
Growing in a pot
While they can be kept alive in quite small pots if you want them to be productive a pot larger than 40L is advisable, and a half wine barrel is the perfect size. In a larger, half wine barrel-sized pot, you can get away with planting two plants.
Plant in Kings Container Mix.
To keep the canes under control, use a wire cage around the pot or bamboo poles and wire to form a structure for them to grow over. This will make harvesting and pruning your canes far easier.
Growing in the ground
Mix in compost and sheep pellets with your soil before planting. In heavier clay soils add gypsum to help improve your soil structure. Avoid deep planting, plant to the same height the plants were in the pot.
Traditionally, cane fruit were grown in rows along posts and wires. This helps contain the canes and keep them upright. However if you are just growing one plant you can keep it trained up a single post or use wooden stakes and wire to create a structure to keep the canes growing up.
Growing in rows along wires
Plant your cane fruit in the row 45-60cm between each plant.
Drive or dig a post into the ground until it is solid on either side of your row (multiple posts will be needed on longer rows).
Stretch two lengths of garden wire and run between each post. Leave 60cm between each post and tension as best as you can.
As your canes grow, tie them onto one side of the wire. Keep fruiting canes on one side of the wire and grow the young canes on the other side to make it easier to prune in winter.
Growing in a smaller space
Plant 2-3 cane fruit around a single post and tie canes in. Try and keep fruiting and new canes separate to make it easier. Or you can use a wire cage and train the canes around that.
Summer and autumn fruiting varieties - raspberries Aspiring and Ivory
These two varieties fruit twice in a year, in autumn (on this year’s growth) and in summer (on last year’s canes).
In winter, prune this year’s canes back by around a third (cut back to a good bud) and remove any weak canes back right to the ground.
In autumn, remove last year’s canes at ground level.
Summer fruiting varieties – most of the other canefruit in our range
Summer fruiting cane fruit fruits on second year canes.
In utumn – cut the top 10cm off new canes, cutting back to a good bud, to encourage branching. Remove old canes after they have finished fruiting.
In winter – remove any thin and weak canes.