Berries in the Backyard: Getting Started!
Smoothies, salads, pies, and crumbles… Some of my favourite kitchen creations are all made better with garden fresh berries! With the price of groceries steadily increasing, homeowners are looking to their backyards to help offset some of the costs. Growing your own berries can help reduce the grocery bill by a lot. Whether you choose to grow blackberries, raspberries, or strawberries, you’ll notice a huge difference in not only the cost, but also the taste compared to store-bought! It’s hard to beat hand-picked garden berries, no matter how you’re eating them.
Berries: What are they, REALLY?
While we have adopted berry into our conversational vocabulary, it’s really a botanical term! To be considered a “true berry”, the fruit from a plant must have seeds and pulp that develop from the ovary of a flower. There are a few other qualifications for any fruit to be considered a true berry, but I’ll keep it simple here. Many of the “berries” we know and love aren’t true berries at all! Strawberries are technically “accessory fruits”, and blackberries and raspberries are “aggregate fruits”. Surprisingly to most, bananas, cucumbers, and avocados are actually “true berries”! To keep things simple for this article, we’ll be talking about common berries as opposed to their “true berry” counterparts.
Starting out with Berries
The first step, as with most garden endeavours, is to make a plan for the berry varieties you’d like to grow! Some berries grow better in raised beds, while others perform best if allowed to grow into a bush. (Read more about specific varieties below!) Mark off the area you’d like to start your berry patch and either build your raised bed, or simply dig out the area and add some high-quality Black Garden Soil.
Berries require nutritious, well-draining soil to thrive! Our BigYellowBag Black Garden Soil is engineered to provide all the essential nutrients to your plants, while also creating the ideal growing medium for flowers, veggies, and berries. The BigYellowBag makes establishing your berry garden easy! No lugging, no mess, just the best black garden soil delivered by your local farmer.
Choose Your Berries
Here in North America, a few berry varieties are incredibly popular for growing in the backyard! Raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries are somewhat easier to establish than other common berries, so we’ll focus on these varieties for now.
Strawberries are incredibly popular for backyard growing. Strawberry short cake with a dollop of whipped cream has always been a favourite dessert of mine. They thrive especially well in raised garden beds with light fluffy soil. Having a high amount of organic matter and nutrients is essential to grow strawberries well. Weed competition can also be very detrimental to strawberries, so be sure to stay on top of weeding. A spot with full sun will be ideal for most berries, but especially strawberries! Avoid planting in clay-based soils that will hold too much moisture.
Raspberries are another commonly grown “berry” here in North America. I have fond memories of picking them in my grandmother’s backyard, to be later enjoyed in jams, or fresh with ice cream! Just like strawberries, raspberries require well-draining soil and plenty of sun. Raised beds are an option, but raspberry bushes can take over an area with the proper conditions. Find a sunny spot that you can dig out fairly deep and add nutritious soil back in. Try not to plant raspberries in places where you’ve recently grown strawberries, tomatoes, or potatoes because of the potential for root diseases.
Blackberries have similar growing requirements to raspberries, seeing as they’re both technically accessory fruits. Plant them separately from your raspberries, but you can set them up in the same way and be successful! Blackberries, like the other varieties we discussed, can be enjoyed in so many different ways, but for me they’re the perfect garden snack. I just pick away at them while tending to other garden tasks.
Be Patient with Your Berries!
Berries are hard to beat when it comes to your backyard garden bounty, however there’s WAY more to growing them than what we’ve covered here. Be sure to do plenty of research before diving in, and be patient when starting out with berries. Don’t expect to get it right the first time. Just like with anything you grow, if you put the time and the effort in, you’ll be enjoying homegrown berries for many years to come!
Want to learn more about berries?! Let us know in the comments if we should write some more about berries, or if you’d like to learn about something else! Happy gardening!