Berrilicious! Growing berries in South Africa has become very popular as fruiting plants are more readily available. They are the easiest addition to your grow your own food collection. Plant the larger varieties along a fence or trellis where they also can be used as a hedge or as a screen.
To grow the best berries is actually much easier than one thinks. They are perfect to teach children about food gardening and if you don’t grow them for the fruit basket, they also attract birds to the garden. From new fashion Goji Berries to tough old favourites here’s our advice to inspire you to add some to your garden.
Some practical tips:
Most berries produce more fruit as they establish and mature. In SA most are deciduous or semi-deciduous and fruit through late summer and autumn. Mulch them regularly with a layer of compost and feed them every second month with Bio Ocean to stimulate growth and flowering.
TIP: BioOcean is an organic fertiliser that will result in stronger plants that bear fruit with stronger flavour.
Until a few years ago few people had heard of Goji Berries. The fashion trend started as health shops started to add them into muesli and cereal bars, promoting them as a super fruit. They are full of vitamin C, other vitamins and more! The fresher the berries the better they are for you hence the trend to now grow your own. But they must be harvested when fully ripe, only then are they edible.
Small shrubs, Goji Berries are often limited in size depending on the container they grow in and are larger when grown in the garden bed. Fruiting end summer they are deciduous losing their leaves through winter.
They are "hungry plants" and need to be fed regularly to grow the best. Add a routine of feeding with Seagro on the months between feeding with the Bio Ocean. As they mature prune them in winter to keep their shape and to produce more fruit.
Cranberries grow as a flat spreading plant much like strawberries and they need a constant water supply. Grow them in a container or in the garden where they can get daily water and mulch them with a layer of compost every year followed by a layer of river sand to keep them moist. The sand also keeps down weeds and helps them to root new plants along the stems.
They prefer a slightly acid soil. Feed them with an acid plant food which will help change the ph of the soil ideal.
Cranberries grow for many years and there are reports of plants in America that are over 100 years old. Fruit are harvested right at the end of autumn just before the frost season starts in winter. By encouraging bees in your garden you will find more fruit on your cranberries.
Blueberries are among the easiest fruits to grow organically and they produce abundant fruit. You can grow a blueberry bush almost anywhere. Boost your immune system naturally by eating them ripe and fresh!
They prefer a slightly more acid soil and can also be grown in containers to limit their size. They are extremely low maintenance and if left unchecked could easily end up as an impenetrable hedge, which could be a good security feature if planted up against a boundary wall. Watch for thorns on the stems if you are growing them for children to harvest.
Tolerant of heat Blackberries are also extremely hardy against our local cold winters. Plant them in a full sun spot with well drained soil and liberal composting to get them established.
A single Tayberry plant will produce abundant fruit. Not only delicious they also are an excellent source of anthocyanins. These are plant pigments which are antioxidants that stimulate the immune system and are known to help prevent heart disease, cancer and more.
Like most other bramble fruits, Tayberries bear best on old wood, which are stems in their second or third year. If you cut them back heavily in spring the growth is fresh and considered as new wood, limiting your fruit supply. Pretty pink flowers in early summer are followed by fruit which is ready to harvest through late summer into autumn.
Tayberries need full sun. They aren't fussy about the soil, although good drainage is important and soil rich in compost is best. The plants are relatively drought tolerant, but they'll need a steady supply of water to get them established.
NOTE: Blackberries are on the invasive list in RSA and may not be sold or propagated. The Tayberry is a hybrid Raspberry and Blackberry cross and is a sterile variety that can be grown as an alternative.