Small Fruit Plants 101

Small Fruit Plants 101

We're counting down the days until spring and we bet you are too! As we plan for our best garden yet, we're sometimes reminded of something that we missed the mark on last year. We adorned our flowers and harvested many vegetables but something might have been missing. It's not until Diane from next door offers you some of her homemade jellies and pies, that you might remember just how much you've been wanting to harvest fruit for that exact reason! Don't worry, we're here to help you get started on finding compatible fruit plants to get you jarring, jamming and jellying in no time.

Currants

Belonging to the Ribes family, currants can be found in a variety of colours and flavours including Currants WhiteCurrants Black and Red Currants. Originating from Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, the UK and North America. These small shrubs enjoy warm summers are cool winters. Tasty and versatile, currants are popular in jams, jellies, tarts, pies and fresh!

Planting:

These excellent ground covering shrubs are deer resistant and grow in zone 3. Growing up to 6 ft tall and 3-6 ft wide, currants require well-draining soil in full sun to partial shade. 

Harvesting:

In June and July, you can expect a huge harvest of currants grown in clusters called 'racemes'. Pick your currants when they begin to soften. Chilling or freezing them for an excellent prolonged life!

Tip:

Space your currant plant 4-5 feet apart. After planting water your plant thoroughly, then maintain even moisture throughout the spring and summer for best results.

Grapes

As part of the Vitaceae family, grapes are adored for their versatility. From snacking from fresh to homemade jams, jellies, juices and of course wines! Although native to the Mediterranean and Central Asia grapes can grow all over the world in zones 4-10. Popular varieties of grapes that can be grown in Canada include Grape Himrod SeedlessGrape Vanessa Seedless and Grape Sovereign Coronation.

Planting:

For the healthiest results, place your grape plant in a full sun location with well-draining soil. Growing 4-10 ft tall and 6-10 ft wide, grapes are natural climbers who will use their surroundings for support. To help your grapes grow nicely, it is best to use a trellis for easier harvesting.

Harvesting:

In Canada, you can expect to harvest your grapes from September to October. With up to twenty pounds of grapes produced from a single mature grapevine! Dependent on the variety and location of your plant, grapevines can produce an optimal harvest for 20-40 years, giving you plenty of grapes for years to come!

Tip: 

When watering your grapevine, be sure to apply water to the root source only. Watering the foliage could eventually lead to disease. Water 1/2 inch to 1 inch per week initially. Once matured, increase watering to 5 gallons over 3x3 ft.

Blackberries

As a part of the Rosaceae family, blackberries are related to Roses. From all over the world, blackberries have been cultivated for food, medicine and dye in Asia, America and Europe. The three types of blackberries are Erect Thorny Blackberries, Erect Thornless Blackberries (Blackberry Triple Crown) and Trailing Thornless Blackberries (Blackberry Chester).

Planting:

For best results plant your blackberries in full sun with well-draining soil that has a pH level of 5.5 to 7.5. Growing anywhere from 3-10 ft tall and 3-10 ft wide, be sure to set your rows 10-12 feet apart.

Harvesting: 

Depending on the season, you can sometimes harvest your blackberries end of June but will likely get the most out of your harvest in July and August. Each blackberry plant will produce 10 to 20lbs of fruit per season! Great for freezing and adding to smoothies or thawing for baking!

Tip: 

Use a trellis system to support your blackberry plant. This will not only allow your blackberry plant to grow nicely but it will make a much easier harvest!

Blueberries

The most popular plant of the Ericaceae family! Blueberries are an exceptional perennial berry that has a great number of health benefits including vitamin K, antioxidants, minerals, immune boosters and more! Originating in North America blueberries can now be found growing naturally all over the world.

Planting:

For a healthy harvest plant, your blueberry plant in zone 3 in at least 3/4 sun as blueberry plants do not tolerate shade. It is also important that blueberries grow in acidic soil, so be sure to test your soil levels beforehand and aim for a pH of 4.5 to 5.5. Your planting space has to be determined by the variety of blueberries you choose to plant, some varieties can grow up to 12ft tall and others only 4ft tall.

Harvesting:

Blueberries are easy to pick, if you find yourself pulling the berries from the branch they are not yet ready. Blueberries should almost fall off the branch when they're ready. Each summer you can expect 5-7 pints of fresh blueberries ready for eating or freezing from July to August.

Tip: 

Blueberry plants can be susceptible to root rot. To avoid root rot maintain even moisture at 1" deep, never soggy.


Loganberries

A beautiful dark red berry, crossbred between the North American Blackberry and European Raspberry! Very flavourful and an essential source of Manganese and Vitamin C. Belonging to the Rosaceae family, Loganberries were discovered in California in 1881.

Planting:

In zone 5, Loganberries perform best in full sun but can tolerate partial shade. Although maintenance is easy, be sure to have well-draining and fertile soil for best harvest results. Growing up to 10ft tall and 5 feet wide, Loganberries require trellising to prevent them from dragging across the ground, causing them to lose berries.  

Harvesting:

Loganberries can be harvested later summer, from August onwards. With a single plant producing 15-18lbs of fruit each year, you can expect to be making plenty of juices, jams, pies, tarts, syrups and more in no time!

Tip: 

Loganberries harvest at different times and should be picked weekly. Harvest berries when they appear dark-bright red.

Goji Berries

A member of the Solanaceae family and superfood family! The Goji Berry is known for its many health benefits including weight loss, better sleep, increased performance and much, more! Originating from China, Tibet and Mongolia the Goji Berry can now be found across the world in zones 5-9.

Planting:

When planted in full sun with slightly alkaline soil (pH range 6.8-8.1) Goji Berry plants can grow from 3-13 ft tall and 1-3m wide. If planting more than one bush, space your plants 5 feet apart for easy access for harvesting.

Harvesting:

Goji Berry plants will produce a harvest after two years, with each plant producing 2-6 lbs of berries per year. Once the berries have turned red allow them to remain on the vine for several weeks before harvesting. If the berry is not yet ripe it will taste slightly bitter. 

Tip:

Try dehydrating your Goji Berries in the oven for a quick and tasty treat filled with health benefits!

Raspberries

Raspberries belong to the Rosacea family and are believed to be native to Turkey but can now be spotted growing wild all over the world, including Canada, the USA and Europe. These versatile berries are easy to pick, low in sugar, cold and heat tolerant, self-pollinating, thornless and are a great source of nectar for bees.

Planting:

Although raspberries are willing to tolerate partial shade, they much prefer full sun with at least 6 hours of bright sunshine. The more sun you’re able to provide your raspberries, the more fruit you can expect to harvest! Raspberries prefer well-drained soil that is rich in nutrients. If your soil is on the heavy-clay side, it would be best to use a raised garden bed to provide proper drainage.

Before planting your raspberries, be sure to provide your soil with the proper nutrients by mixing a well-aged compost or general potting compost into your soil before planting. This is especially important, as raspberries need plenty of nutrients to bear fruit. The ideal pH for raspberries is 6.0 and 6.5.

Harvesting: 

There are two main categories of raspberry plants to consider when planting. The plant you choose will depend on when you are looking to harvest your raspberries and how much.

1. Summer-fruiting - Also known as summer-bearing raspberries, grow fruit on the canes that grew last summer. If you plant your raspberries this year, you can expect raspberries the following summer.

2. Ever-bearing - Also known as fall-bearing raspberries, grow fruit on canes from the summer of the same year. If you plant raspberries this year, you can expect raspberries this autumn.

If you're someone who wants fresh summer fruit, summer-fruiting raspberries are a great choice for you. If you're someone who would prefer lots of berries that are worth the wait, ever-bearing raspberries are your best choice. Though, if you ask around it is highly recommended to go with both! Giving you two harvests a year!

Tip:

Avoid planting raspberry plants where tomatoes, peppers and potatoes have grown to reduce the risk of verticillium. 

 
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