Gardens - Fruit & Vegetable Gardening
Create a berry patch in your garden
From brambles to blueberries, dedicate part of your plot to an assortment of dessert-worthy fruits
Strawberries are much easier to manage than prickly brambles. Set out starter plants in spring, 30 centimetres apart in humus-rich soil in a sunny bed, and mulch with compost and/or grass clippings. Before long, wiry runners will appear. To avoid an overcrowded tangle, pinch them off as they emerge so that all of the plants’ energy goes into fruiting rather than increasing. While you may have to race robins and chipmunks to ripe fruit—netting over the patch helps—the berries you get will taste sublime.
Shallow-rooted strawberries grow well in all manner of containers, from large pots to half wooden barrels to special strawberry pyramids intended just for the purpose. A 30-centimetre-diameter pot holds three plants, while six will fill a half-barrel, the berries tumbling over the sides. Use a rich, well-drained mix prepared with sandy soil, fine compost and/or manure, some peat moss or coir (shredded coconut husk), and possibly vermiculite or perlite. The exact recipe is less important than a fluffy, porous texture. Everbearing or day-neutral varieties are best for containers, which should be protected over winter with leaves piled around them, or moved into an unheated garage or shed.
Strawberries either fruit in June or are everbearing. A popular everbearer, ‘Ozark Beauty’ yields large, sweet fruit all summer, not a lot at any one time but a steady crop. Also everbearing, ‘Fort Laramie’ is hardy to –20°C. ‘Jewel’ and ‘Honeoye’ both ripen full crops of tasty, extra-large berries in June.