These are many ways to include edibles in your landscaping plans. Plant one, or all, of these six edible berry bushes for a sustainable garden.
Every edible landscape deserves to have one or more berry bushes. Your garden will be bountiful and sustainable when you include berries, which are some of nature’s most beautiful offerings.
Edible berry bushes can help you have a natural way to provide dietary fiber in your meals, which helps fight constipation, high cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes, among many other diseases and conditions. They offer windbreaks and nesting places for wildlife.
Suitable for humans and wildlife, if you are trying to decide which berries to include in your garden, we offer a few ideas in this article.
Raspberries & Blackberries
One of the most popular berries, raspberries and blackberries are an enjoyable addition to many people’s gardens. They provide an array of antioxidants and nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin B6, manganese and magnesium. They are definitely worthy of consideration when planning your garden.
Commonly known as caneberries, these perennial plants produce their fruits on canes from the previous year’s growth out of the ‘crown’ of the plant. Each year maintenance is required to cut out the prior year dead canes and clean up the plant for the new year’s growth. Raspberries can spread and produce canes from roots, too, but blackberries only grow canes from the crown.
All in all raspberries and blackberries are a very easy fruit to grow. Trellising is the best option so the canes are supported in an upright position. See how to make a berry trellis in this article How to Grow Blackberries from Nourse Berry Plants.
Because viruses can be common in blackberries, obtain yours from a trusted source with a good reputation. Once your berry bushes are planted, care is pretty simple. Feed them in early spring with a complete, balanced fertilizer — one where all three N-P-K numbers on the bag on the bag are the same, such as 10-10-10. Give them a second feeding about six weeks later, and they’ll stay well fed.
Raspberries are a tasty addition to baking, such as in muffins and bread. With a beautiful red hue, they also add a pleasing amount of color to whatever you put them in. Try something new, such as raspberry filled cookies, for a bit of variety.
How to use your blackberries? First of all, they make delicious jam and jelly. You can make blackberry infused vinegar as the base for homemade salad dressings. Blackberries also taste great in yogurt, pancakes, terrific as homemade berry syrup, and you can even toss them into a salad.
Blueberries are considered to be one of the most significant sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants assist in fighting free radicals in your body that cause cell damage. Blueberries are also a great source of flavonoids, which help to preserve memory function.
Blueberries prefer acidic soil and grow well in the northern United States. If you live in the South, look for specific plants for your region and be prepared to make soil amendments to adjust your pH.
Select a sunny location with well-drained soil that is free of weeds and is loose and well-worked with soil amendments. Blueberries need regular irrigation to keep the root zone moist throughout the growing season and achieve plump berries at harvest time. Keep watering in mind as you choose a planting site.
Mulching will help blueberries conserve the vital moisture that they love. Place 2 to 4 inches of mulch over the roots to preserve moisture, prevent weeds and add organic matter to the surrounding soil. Sawdust, grass clippings, and pulverized tree trimmings all work well. Repeat with new mulch every other year. Caution: do not use bark or sawdust from cedar or redwood trees.
Blueberries are delicious in baking, whether they are in muffins, pancakes or cobbler. They freeze well and taste delicious in smoothies and yogurt. Blueberry sauce or syrup is yet another way to get the most out of this delightful fruit.
Pomegranate is a deciduous bush that can be trained as a small tree. It typically grows from 12 to 20 feet tall but can be pruned to remain smaller. It is well suited for growing in a large container. Flowering and fruits grow on the new year’s growth, so spring pruning is in order.
If you are starting the plant from seed, start the seeds indoors in the winter and let the plant get sturdy roots before planting out. It takes five to seven months for the fruit to become mature on the bush and the plant needs two to three years before it bears more than a couple of fruits.
Pomegranate will grow best, in areas with hot, dry summers and cool winters. If you live in the north, grow the plants in containers and consider greenhouse protection during the winter to reduce the chances of losing the plants.
You can juice pomegranates like an orange, take the seeds out and munch on them whole, or put them into salads. They are refreshing eaten cold. Watch this short video from GrowOrganic Peaceful Valley.
Elderberry is native to many parts of the United States and in the southern part of Canada. Black and Blue elderberries (Sambucus canadensis, Sambucus nigra, or Sambucus glauca) are hardy from zone 2 to 11 and prefer moist soil in open areas.
It has a tasty berry that is useful for wildlife and humans alike. Elderberry can be grown as a hedge or as an individual shrub. You’ll find that butterflies love to visit and the berries can also be used for medicinal purposes. Useful for common cold remedies, elderberry syrup can actually work better than OTC meds in shortening the duration of viruses. Scientific studies show that elderberry prevents viruses from replicating in the body, reducing the length of colds or flu.
The CDC reports that it is best to consume only cooked berries, which are usually eaten in pies and jams. The berry juice can be fermented into wine. Remember, while elderberries are safe to consume, if cooked, uncooked berries may produce nausea), and the leaves and stems should not be used when making juice. [source]
Whether you choose to grow elderberry plants as a hedge, a place for butterflies to visit, or for food and medicinal recipes, you won’t be disappointed by the benefits they offer. And this plant is hearty enough for even first-time growers to master.
Gooseberries & Currants
Although not as well known as some of the other berries, gooseberries and currants are berries you will want to consider planting. They both contain many antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals which contribute to health and wellness. Some of the conditions that these nutrients combat are aging, inflammation, cancer, and neurological diseases.
Gooseberries and currants have similar growing requirements. They thrive in various kinds of soil but prefer loose soil with plenty of organic matter. Once established they require little water and will succeed in a sunny site in your yard. Often grown as a bush, you can also train them to grow against a wall so it will take up less space in a small garden.
Consider growing gooseberries and currants in containers if you have very limited space.
Find out about specific growing conditions from your local nursery or try these articles:
There are many types of gooseberries and currants and a number of uses for them. They make a delightful and unique pie. These berries can be made into cordials, and sweet or savory sauces as well. Try this recipe for gooseberry compote sauce from Genius Kitchen.
But don’t forget Strawberries!
While not technically a bush, strawberries are a great addition to your edible landscape and cannot be left out as you consider edible berry bushes in your yard. They can be grown in a variety of ways, from garden beds to containers and hanging baskets, and are especially suited for placement in small areas around other bedding plants.
Strawberries have been called a superfood and for a good reason. This beautiful, bright berry boasts 150 percent of the daily requirement of Vitamin C in only one cup.
Strawberry shortcake is a favorite dessert any time of the year. Strawberries are also easy to freeze so you can enjoy them all year long. Freeze them whole or cut in half. Slice them fresh and add to yogurt or oatmeal to add some flavor, color and a healthy dose of nutrients.
Many types of berries can be grown for your home enjoyment. Consider trying to include at least a few different varieties in your edible landscape. Do your research and find out how to grow them organically for maximum health benefits.
Try the ones listed, and then use them in as many different ways as possible when they are ready to enjoy. You will most certainly decide that berries are a “must have” in your edible landscape.