Winter is the perfect time to prepare your patch for that crop of summer berries you’ve always wanted.
No more plastic punnets, an unrivalled depth of flavour and the joy of being able to pick the sweet taste of summer straight from the bush.
Coming in many shapes and sizes, berry bushes and vines are a delicious and prolific addition to the edible garden. The group of plants we commonly call berries includes cane-grown fruits like raspberries, bush-grown fruits like blueberries and small plants like strawberries.
Cane-fruiting berries can be unruly ramblers and usually require trellising, while bush-fruiting berries grow as compact-sized bushes or low spreading plants, and can be well suited to growing in pots.
Which berries should you plant in your patch?
With so many different berries to choose from for the home gardener, what to grow and how many of each will come down to what you like to eat and how much space you have to dedicate to growing berries.
Climate is also a determining factor. Raspberries and blackberries prefer cooler climates, while blueberries and strawberries are tolerant to a wider range of climates, variety dependant.
The huge variety of berries available means that with careful selection and enough space you could have an extended berry harvest from spring, throughout summer and into autumn.
Common backyard berries
Raspberries (Rubus idaeus) are a delight to grow and are great for cold or temperate gardens. They are deciduous, dormant in winter, and boast summer and autumn fruiting varieties to extend your harvest.
All are self-fertile, meaning they don’t need a second plant to pollinate with to produce fruit.
Blackberries are ubiquitous with foraging and also with being an invasive weed in unmanaged spaces and national parks.
Luckily, there is a thornless variety that has sterile seeds so it can’t be spread far and wide by birds or other means. Thornless Blackberries (Rubus ulmifolius) are a deciduous bramble berry with minimal thorns and maximum taste, providing plentiful fruit in late summer.
There are many blackberry hybrids, and their management is much the same. They are similarly vigorous and will need a robust trellis or fence to grow along.
Popular varieties of blackberry hybrids include marionberry, loganberry, tayberry, boysenberry and youngberry.
Blueberries are a deciduous or semi-deciduous perennial woody bush and are classed as either a high or low-chill variety, with winter temperatures determining which is best for your area – there’s even options for warm and humid climates.
Strawberries are a popular inclusion in many gardens, being hugely versatile and much loved by kids and adults alike.
Strawberries are a little different to the other berries, as the productive life of the plant is quite short. The parent plant will flower and produce fruit in spring, summer and into autumn, and will send out runners on which new plants grow and take root.
Want to know more about how to plant a berry patch?
In Issue #24 of Pip Magazine, our article on building a barry patch looks at:
- Each variety of berry in more detail;
- Where to place your berry patch;
- How to add berries to a food forest if you’re limited by space;
- How to prepare your soil for planting;
- The benefits of sourcing bare-rooted plants;
- How to prune and maintain your berries; and
- How to deal with pests and diseases.
You can access this article online here as part of our digital subscription offering, or subscribe to the print version of Pip Magazine here.
Also check out our article on raspberries from Issue #8 of Pip here.
And don’t forget we have loads of berry-related content online, including these articles and recipes: