Berries


We have raised and sold Goji plants ( Crimson Star cv) for many years now.  The benefits of this China native are many healthwise and they are considered one of the superfruits. Culturally we find them easy to grow and one of the few berries or plants that do fine in a high (8+)  ph. Fresh or dried these plants have a lot to offer and should definitely be part of a permaculture plan.  In our research we have found very little information on how care for and grow for best production.  The normal method is to stake the plant with a 5-6′ pole, training it upward and then cascading down.  Similar to many weeping trees. This appears to be done mainly for harvesting convenience, since most of the berries will be chest high.

As I was reading an article on cordon training currants and gooseberry for higher production, it came to me that goji would lend itself to this just like grapes, kiwis and blackberry.  So off to another project!  We had an empty 25′ row in an old bramble berry section and I added 6 new plants, 5 foot apart.  As with many of my projects, things came up and no trellis was added last year, so I made a commitment to get it done this spring.  The plants had made decent growth last year but were really taking off now and starting to get weedy with many new stems or trunks coming from the ground and several suckers.

I decided to set my first wire at 16″ off the ground and add additional wires at every 12″, so we have off ground 16″, 28″, 40″, 52″ with room to add one more at 64″ as growth dictates.  This will allow main branches to go left and right about 30″ with a central trunk or leader.  Similar to a 4 arm kniffin system in grapes except with 8 arms.

4 more plants to tie and train and then we will watch the progress over this summer and next. I am hopeful that by pruning for production like grapes and hardy kiwi that not only will we get a larger crop, but also a neater and easier to pick one!

Only $8.00 each

 SeaBerries

SeaberrySeaBerry is widely used for healing in Asia and Europe, where it is valued as a potent anti-oxidant, a source for Vitamin C and healing oil. The attractive small tree or shrub, also called Sea Buckthorn  is likely the most widely grown, northern hardy, fruiting plant in the world, but most Americans have never heard of it! In Europe, the sour, flavorful fruit is sweetened and its orange-passion-fruit-like flavor makes fine sauces, jellies and a base for liqueurs. Blended with other fruits, it makes a delicious juice. The plants, native to the Russian Far East, are incredibly productive and a great choice for backyard fruit production. Narrow silver leaves and plentiful round, yellow-orange fruit cover the 6-10′ tall, narrow, upright female forms. As one of the “SuperFruits” this variety is Leikora which is higher in vitamin C.  Give plants full sun and good drainage, and space them about 7′ apart or 3-5′ for a hedge or an effective fruiting windbreak. They are extremely hardy, to -50° F., disease resistant and easy to grow. Branches are used in floral displays, and commercial crops are harvested by cutting off entire fruit-laden branches. Perfect for New Mexico they are drought tolerant and like full sun. One male needed for about every 8 female plants. 1 gallon 12” size

Our normal price is $20.00 each  or  3 for $15.00 each but for this Pre-Order Sale  we are practically giving them away at only $8.00 each while supplies last.   Email us with the quantity you need and we will have them ready for pick-up this Saturday, September 7th between 9:00 am and noon

Experts have long warned that weeds may compete with cultivated crops for nutrients and water.

But now research by a team from Washington State University and the United Kingdom has found that weeds may reduce the amount of plant-based nutrients in raspberries, according to a news release.

WSU weed scientist Tim Miller worked with fruit researchers in the United Kingdom last summer on a series of trials that examined weeds and herbicides and their relationship to plant-based or phytonutrients.

The UK team had already developed a method to measure the amount of several compounds in raspberries and black currants, two fruits that have been dubbed superfruits because of large amounts of antioxidants.

The 2012 trial in Scotland linked some hard-to-control weeds, such as broadleaf dock, fireweed and quackgrass, to reduced sugar, vitamin C, color and juice content in the berries.

Tim MillerCourtesy Washington State UniversityWashington State University weed scientist Tim Miller will travel to Scotland to work with colleagues on trial gauging the affect of weeds on raspberry and black currant nutritional content.

And the trials will be repeated this year to determine whether environmental responses during 2012 may have affected the outcome or whether the quality factors respond the same two years in a row.

“A better understanding of the potential effects of management decisions will give growers one more tool to improve not only the yield of their fruit, but also the quality of those fruits for consumers,” Miller said in the release.

 

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There are over 20 different species of Juneberries, and they all produce more or less edible fruits –though Amelanchier alnifolia  also known as the Saskatoon or Serviceberry is certainly more desirable than others. In the wild this plant is found from Canada all the way into New Mexico. These are one of the smaller growing members of the genus, forming a deciduous shrub that seldom exceeds 8 feet in height and occasionally suckering to form a slowly spreading clump similar to a lilac.  This is one of our favorite fruiting plants. The plants are fairly tolerant to a higher ph and they will also grow well in heavy clay soils. They are very cold-hardy and will tolerate temperatures down to at least -20°f and probably much lower. The other varieties have been developed for their flowering by the nursery trade or are not very adaptable to our climate.

White flowers are produced before the plants come into leaf, and are usually produced so abundantly that the whole plant turns white.  By late June, or more commonly early to mid- July, the plants will usually be carrying large crops of fruits. These fruits are about 15mm in diameter. The fruit is soft, sweet and juicy with a taste that reminds us of blueberries crossed with apples. There are usually 2 – 5 very small seeds contained in an apple-like core at the center of the fruit. These are small enough to be eaten without problems.  The fruit can be eaten fresh or used in any way you would use blueberries- muffins, pancakes, pastries, syrups and jellies. The fruit can also be cooked in pies and when dried they are quite sweet and can be used in the same ways as raisins.  They are one of the first fruits of the season to be ripe and are somewhat susceptible to bird predation.  They start out red and change to a purple color with a white bloom or powder when fully ripe. Because they are purple when ripe birds are not as big a problem as could be the case however they will get their share if not covered with netting or some other method or exclusion.

Juneberry unripe

Juneberry unripe

High in potassium, iron and magnesium, and containing vitamins C, B6, A and E, juneberries were used by the Cheyenne as a dietary aid to treat loss of appetite in young children, and many Native American groups in North America subsisted on the dried fruit during winter months. Euell Gibbons wrote about enjoying juneberry muffins and pie in “Stalking the Wild Asparagus.” They can also be used to make a wild yeast (Like grapes and blueberries, they are lightly covered with a whitish film of yeast.)You can see why these are a favorite of ours and why we searched out the best “cultivars” or named selections to experiment with!  They are currently being grown in Canada and the northern plains as a minor commercial crop.  We did quite a bit of research to choose varieties although not a lot is published on this fruit.  The varieties we chose were Smoky, Thiessen, Northline and Regent along with unnamed generic seedlings that we put into our windbreak.  After 3 years of growing the cultivars I can say that “disappointing” is a tremendous understatement.  We had expected to harvest buckets of fruit of a good size and flavor from these “better” varieties by now but after 3 years have gotten a handful per bush at best.

Most of the named varieties have proven difficult to grow and some are hard to just keep alive. The bush size varies from 12” – 20” after 3 years of growth.  Compare this to the wild type we have planted which are from 3-4 feet tall.  Our wild ones have grown multiple stalks and some have started close suckering which provides a larger crop.  The wild type has had very little care and no fertilization versus compost and some fertilization on the expensive cultivars.

So what went wrong?  The named cultivars are usually hard to find, fairly expensive and very small bareroot plants, mostly in the 6”-12” range.  This would explain being hard to adapt the first year but after that, if still alive, they show grow on.  I think the primary reason is that they are “selections” as opposed to purposeful hybrids.  A named selection is when a plant with some outstanding feature (size of fruit, yield, bush size) is found growing amongst a plot of other similar ones.  This plant is then propagated clonally and reproduced for sale commercially.  Probably why it was the best is that its genetics were most suited for the exact spot where found as a response to climate, soil type etc. or any combination of these factors.  Two of the varieties we tested were found originally growing in Alberta, Canada and last I looked it is dissimilar to New Mexico in a variety of ways!  Possibly with major soil adaptation and afternoon shade these cultivars might respond much better.  I think the reason the wild types grow better here is the genetic variability in them.  Indeed one of the drawbacks to some people is that the wild types might vary a little in ultimate size.  Usually this doesn’t matter unless you are commercially farming them and need mechanized harvesting.

Since our goal is to provide fruiting plants that are adaptable for the average person without a lot of special care we are recommending you plant only the wild type of the species. We will continue to grow the others (and maybe more) experimentally but not offer them for sale at this time. We do offer the wild type as routine in our catalog.

Blackberrries come in 3 forms.  Trailing, semi-trailing and bush.  Trailing can develop canes as long as 15 feet and require specialized trellising.  The semi-trailing are about 6-8’ and can be grown on a post or a trellis.  The thornless bush types do not require any support although a side wire may be helpful to hold canes upright when they have a full fruit load. There are many bramble crosses which are often listed as blackberries such as boysenberry, loganberry and tayberry and we are not covering those here.

Central New Mexico is at the top end of cold hardiness for the bush blackberries and they may benefit from covering the canes over the winter with straw or mulch in the colder areas.   Blackberries with the exception of the newly released Prime Jim, Prime Jan and Prime Ark series produce fruit on second year canes.  We have trialed Apache, Navajo and Ouchita, all thornless bush varieties from The University of Arkansas breeding program.  (the leader when it comes to blackberry releases and research). 

All three varieties withstood our record cold February 2010.   Navajo showed the most cane damage and plant loss over the last two winters, therefore we are recommending it for Albuquerque, Los Lunas, Belen and like areas only.  Navajo is the earliest to fruit and this may be linked to its relative lack of vigor in our climate.  Apache is next to produce starting harvest this year July 20.  Apache has also impressed with it’s general vigor over some others types.  Ouchita seems to grow a slightly smaller bush (36-48”) and its production starts in early August.  The health and vigor seem to match Apache along with flavor.  Berry size is comparable in both, so for a continuation of the season plant both varieties.  Production starts the second year after planting and increases as bush size increases and more canes develop.  Both varieties will sucker to fill in the row but at a much slower rate than raspberries.

This is our first year growing Triple Crown, a semi-trailing variety.  So far it has exceeded expectations and seems to be living up to the hype.  It is reputed to grow up to 30 lbs on a single plant and while that is hard to believe, I would be more than happy with 10 – 15 lbs!  So far some of the new canes have reached the 4-5’ range by the end of July.  These will be next year’s producers. Currently all have fruit that looks to start ripening about the first week of August.  For small plants and expecting no fruit this year they seem very productive.  With these they should be trellised. Grow 5-6 canes in a vertical fan formation and plant 4-6’ apart.  After fruiting these canes should be removed.  When the current year’s canes hit the top wire placed at 5 or 6 feet off the ground, snip them off.  They will then develop lateral branches which can be tied to the top wire.  These laterals will dramatically increase your fruit production.

A difference between raspberries and blackberries is when picked ripe, raspberries pull free from the core. Blackberries start out red and then change to a purple and then rapidly to a glossy black.  At this point when they turn black is when most people pick them.  Don’t, if you do you will get a berry similar to the grocery store product, beautiful and black but somewhat tart.  Allow the sugars to develop by leaving another few days to a week.  When the glossy black just starts to dull a little is the optimum time.  The sugars will have developed to give an unbelievable sweet flavor, rich and full. A few days and you have a totally different animal, so to speak. At this point I defy anyone to bring back to the house half of what you have picked because you will be eating them as fast as you can gather them.

After last week’s post on raspberries, I received several phone calls and emails wanting to know how many a family should plant.  Obviously this is an almost impossible-to-answer question with all the variables.  But we hope to clarify the answer somewhat, so let’s give it a shot.  It starts with how well do you like raspberries if they were always available?  Most people say they love fresh raspberries because they only get them a few times a year.  But if you had them to eat anytime you wanted from mid July thru October would you calculate your weekly consumption as a little less than you first thought?  How about the other members of you family, are they the same?  I have a grandson that will pick and eat every Saturday until he can’t eat anymore.  The next week he is at it again. He is a real consumer and we can easily calculate what to grow based on his intake! The next question is do you want enough for fresh use or do you also want to freeze and can for use year round? How big is the family etc.  If canning them, are you wanting extras for gifts? 

The next issue is what your cultural practices are.  The more consistent you are with water and nutrient application, the better and more consistent the crop.  We recommend starting a row using 1 plant per 18”.  We also put a ½ gph dripper on each plant.  This works good with our clay soil, however if yours is sandier you will need to space drippers closer and water more frequently. We try to keep the width of the row at its base 12”-16” wide and the drippers will water about this area, inhibiting suckers from growing in the path.  If you need a few more berries you can allow your row to get a little wider without adding plants or increasing row length.  We will assume that you are adding compost and trying to improve the soil each year for maximum yield.  From my experience with these parameters you will get a good crop the first year, a very good crop the second year and reach maximum potential yield from the third year on for many years if maintained. 

 For the average family of four that will eat raspberries all the time you would want to grow 10’-15’ of row or about 7-10 plants.  This will give you enough to always have for fresh eating and be able to share with some neighbors.  You will also be able to freeze some extras, make milkshakes and an occasional pie.  Twenty to forty foot of row is for the serious family that makes their own jams etc and wants to do canning, freezing and other food storage for the year.  This length row will supply enough to have pie whenever you want, share with neighbors, can a dozen ½ pints in a picking and still have some for smoothies.

 In the warmer weather, raspberries, once pollinated, ripen quickly and we suggest harvesting twice a week.  You can harvest weekly but some berries will be over ripe, sweeter and losing the “tartness”. These are good to mix into making preserves, smoothies etc. By later in fall say first of October usually once a week is sufficient. We feel a properly cared for row of raspberries will provide more fruit and a better return per square foot of space than any other fruit crop.

 To freeze raspberries, place on a cookies sheet on the counter and let dry for an hour. Then put into the freezer on the cookie sheet for a few hours or overnight.  Once they are frozen then put into freezer bags or freezer jars.  If you put them direct into freezer bags you will end up with one frozen chunk that is then harder to use later.  Do not wash or rinse berries before freezing or storing.  Only rinse right before using or they will get mushy and not keep long.

If you have read previous posts you know that we only grow ”Fall” or “Everbearing” type raspberries.  If not click here for a discussion of the differences and why we only recommend these.   Raspberries are an excellent and profitable crop for most parts of New Mexico.  The basic difference on our recommendations is when they start to produce and quantity per foot of row.  We grow these as a row and keep it to about 12-16” wide at the bottom. This gives a row 30-40” wide at the top or picking area.  If left to grow wider it becomes cumbersome to harvest, so dig any suckers out that are past this area and replant to fill in bare spots in the row.

This year’s early and warm spring was definitely a boost to the raspberries.  Our first berries on Polana were July 4th, Autumn Britten July 10th and Polka July 15th.  This is approximately 3 and in some cases 4 weeks early! 

Autumn Britten – good and early- any location

Heritage – an older variety, sturdy and consistent starting later than Polana or Carolyn

Carolyn – Interchangeable with Polana south of I-40 Albuquerque, Los Lunas, Belen

Polana – Best north of I-40 Santa Fe, Cedar Crest, Taos, Estancia      Available

Polka – Smaller sturdier canes flavor similar to Polana,   I-40 area and northern climates     Available

Anne – Consistent yellow raspberry, slightly less production than reds

Fall Gold – Same as Anne, good all areas     Available

The size plant is also a determining factor in getting a good start.  Tissue culture plants are often promoted as disease- free perfect clones and they are.  However they are usually very small, greenhouse grown with minimal root development in 2” peat pots.  If you do keep them alive you will lose at least a year in getting them established.  They do not field plant and adapt well to our conditions.  If you are purchasing bare-root get a 2 year plant not 1 year or else buy a minimum 1 gallon container plant.  These will have the root development to stand the transplanting process. 

One of the debates in growing raspberries is whether or not to use a general or “high” Nitrogen fertilizer on them. One group says you shouldn’t use as this promotes leafy plant growth but not berries which need potassium.  The other group says early fertilization with Nitrogen gives better plant growth and a larger plant with more canes will provide more fruit.  We tend to agree with the later.  I feel the bigger and better shape our plants are in, the better total yield will be.  Also I think this helps to keep production up during hot periods.  But probably the biggest benefit is a taller plant means less bending to harvest and I’m all for that!

We recommend fertilizing using an OMRI listed liquid fish based solution and should continue from the end of April through the end of June.  When you start seeing flowers is the time to quit Nitrogen application.  We then recommend a 2” layer of compost be added in the winter after you have cut the canes down.  This allows the winter snows and rains to help soak it into the ground and also gives some insulating protection to the shallow roots.  Spread 8-12” wider than your row on each side since that’s were many of the roots actually are located.

                 Below is a simple recipe for raspberry jam. Use straight or add other fruits for unique flavors.

 Yield: about 6-7 half-pints

1 quart crushed red raspberries

3 ½ cups sugar

1 pouch liquid pectin

Combine raspberries and sugar in a large saucepot.  Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Stir in liquid pectin. Return to a rolling boil.  Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary.  Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving ¼” headspace.  Adjust 2 piece caps.  Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

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