Grow Your Own Berries With These Tips From an Expert Fruit Gardener
For a "berry" delicious spring and summer.
Berries are some of the best fruits out there. Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries… you name it. They’re versatile — they work in a variety of dishes and baked goods, but they’re also great on their own. They’re delicious — not too sweet, with just the right amount of tartness. And they’re filled to the brim with vitamins and nutrients your body needs. Unfortunately, because berries aren’t the easiest to harvest and package on a large scale, they can cost a pretty penny at the produce stand. Good news: You can cut out the middleman and cultivate fresh, delicious berries right in your own backyard. See these tips from an expert on how to plant and grow your own berries.
How To Grow Strawberries
“Homegrown fresh strawberries are so delicious and easy to grow in pots,” says Christy Wilhelmi, author of Grow Your Own Mini Fruit Garden (Buy from Amazon, $27.77). The key? Feeding plants with a steady supply of organic nutrients as they mature so they reap a good harvest. To start, pick up an established potted strawberry plant of an everbearing variety (like Ozark or Albion) from the nursery, which will bear fruit in as little as three to four weeks and throughout the summer. To do: Add the plant to a pot filled with well-draining soil mixed with organic fruit and berry fertilizer. Give full sun and water regularly. Once a week, add organic plant nutrition to water (according to package directions) and pour over the soil.
Delicious idea: Dress up summer salads with fresh strawberries. Toss sliced strawberries in a spinach salad and blend 1 cup strawberries with 2 tablespoons each of olive oil and balsamic vinegar for a sweet, tangy dressing.
How To Grow Blueberries
“Blueberries are so precious when picked from your own garden,” notes Wilhelmi. Plus, the tiny gems are packed with healing antioxidants and vitamins C and K. To plant them, simply loosen the root ball of a two to three-year-old, one-gallon blueberry plant from the nursery and nestle it into a pot filled with acidic soil. Give full sun and keep soil moist, and berries should be ready to eat in a few months’ time.
Delicious ideas: Brighten brunch with juicy blueberries. Stir 1 cup berries into the batter of your favorite banana bread recipe for a tasty, berry-kissed twist. For filling and nutritious overnight oats, add ½ cup each of milk and rolled oats to a jar, chill overnight, then top with blueberries.
How To Grow Raspberries
“Raspberries are full of beneficial antioxidants and fiber, and they’re a great addition to a smoothie or yogurt,” says Wilhelmi. She suggests buying a plant that’s bred specifically for containers (like Raspberry Shortcake). “It will stay compact and doesn’t require trellising like other varieties,” she notes. Plant seedling in a pot filled with acidic soil, give full sun and water regularly, being careful not to overwater. Add organic fruit and berry fertilizer to soil one month after planting and harvest in seven to eight weeks.
Delicious ideas: Sweeten snack time with ripe raspberries. Blend 1 cup raspberries, ½ cup plain Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon mint leaves, and 3 ice cubes until smooth for a cool and refreshing smoothie. For a creamy frozen yogurt pops, pour the mixture into Popsicle molds, insert Popsicle sticks, and freeze.
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A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.